Choosing Joy

The Oak

Today when I ventured out to my favorite little coffee shop I was surprised to find the TV on there, tuned to news. It seems another police officer has been shot, this time in a little town near my home. They have pretty much shut down the entire area while they hunt for the shooter. Even schools are on lock-down, and many major roads are closed off. Helicopters hover overhead. It is all very distressing. I hate it that this is happening in our country (well, anywhere)~shooters are everywhere, it seems. I grieve for the officer and his family, and I grieve for the human family that it continues to be torn by intolerance and violence.

As always, I find solace at my easel and in the woods. I cannot go be in the woods today, but I could work on a painting of one I started last week. One of the delightful features of a prairie-savanna complex is big old open-grown white oaks. They spread out their massive limbs like a giant stretching, and let them sweep nearly to the ground. Duck under them and you find yourself in a glorious, peaceful little sanctuary. I abstracted this tree out of its habitat in order to emphasize that, and the “isness” of it, from its furrowed bark to its sweeping limbs.

Painting helps me focus on what is good in the world. I hope this painting helps you feel some goodness, too.

Published by melissabluefineart

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26 thoughts on “Choosing Joy

    1. I read somewhere that if we refuse to give our attention/energy to violence it loses its energy source. Just think if everyone turned their backs on violence, refused to give it energy. A joyful thought, indeed.

  1. Yes, white oak limbs are huge and beautiful, just like your lovely portrayal, Melissa. There is one at a refuge I visit annually that I enjoy, although it is old and losing the occasional limb. But it is in a refuge where it isn’t in any danger of being cut for safety sake.

    I wish I could easily choose joy. We are just so bombarded with disappointing, saddening or horrifying news and commentary throughout the day. I’d like to just push it all to the background, but I am just not able to do it. The best I can accomplish is to leave it simmering and try to stay positive…and spend as much time with natural things and scenes as possible.

  2. Me too, Steve. I was in a pretty somber mood when I wrote that, hoping it would lift my spirits and it did. It isn’t an easy choice for me. I can find myself really dwelling on distressing events and must force myself to see the beauty in the universe.

  3. I can’t add enough “amen”s to your post and painting. It’s exactly how I manage as well, run to the paints, art supplies, whatever is to hand. Thanks for sharing your beautiful work once again with us, Melissa. šŸ’œ

  4. I really don’t understand the violence that seems to be erupting everywhere. I feel I want to stay away from the news and hide in my garden. Photography is to me what art is to you in the sense of refuge / escape from it all. A lovely painting as usual. Oaks will outlive us all and the violence that surrounds us.

  5. I choose joy, too! I can only affect that which is inside me or around me in the vibes I let in or put out. I refuse to let my energy feed the media circus that I can’t help but suspect encourages some of this violent behavior. Love to see your paintings doing the same.

  6. Many years ago, the first computer programmers had a little phrase: GIGO. Of course that stands for “Garbage in, garbage out.” I never paid much attention to it at the time, but I’ve come to understand the phrase as a pretty good summation of the way things are in life, too. We have to be the gatekeepers of our own lives, or a good bit of garbage can slip in.

    And it isn’t just violence. It can be mind-numbing television programming, or propaganda, or gossip, or mediocrity in a thousand guises. When I started writing, I took Annie Dillard for a guide, and found this in her book, The Writing LIfe: “[The writer] is careful of what he reads, for that is what he will write. He is careful of what he learns, for that is what he will know.ā€ And, of course, the painter probably is pretty careful of what she looks at. I’d say you vision is just fine — otherwise, your paintings wouldn’t shine as they do.

    1. I remember when that phrase came along, and thinking how apt it was. It is good to be reminded of it, and I love how Annie Dillard expressed the idea. So true! Thank you for saying my paintings shine~that is a lovely compliment.

  7. This is a beautiful picture and it certainly gave me joy, Melissa, so thank you! I rarely watch TV these days. Negative stories do tend to sell more than positive ones. I still follow the news but tend to do so via more balanced media presentations on the Internet and I make sure I follow plenty of inspiring people and organisations on Twitter and in blogs to offset the sadness and violence and remind me that there is still goodness and love in the world. Being out in nature gives me joy as does my own form of art therapy and gardening. Thank you for spreading some joy in the world, Melissa. šŸ™‚

  8. This reminds me of those 19th century German artworks in which trees are made to look almost human. At first glance I saw those two branches at the right as scrawny arms reaching out.

    As for the news you referred to in your text: after I see enough of that sort of thing I find myself turning off the television to have silence.

    1. Me too, generally. But this is happening right here, with armed units patrolling my streets, police helicopters right over our heads.
      When I look at trees I am reminded of the time-lapse films of plants growing and responding to light. I see years of this movement, recorded in their shape. I considered putting that into my text but thought I’d leave it as a visual, to see who would see it too.

  9. Lovely post, though I’m sorry it was brought about by another tragic shooting. I love oaks! And the “is-ness” of the oak feels right here. It’s so refreshing for my eyes to look at paintings instead of photos. I like both, of course. But I love the evidence of the hand – your hand- that I see here. The sheltering, downward swoop of the old oak’s branches are good medicine on rough days.

  10. Beautiful painting and terrific post! I can relate totally to your words and have been thinking similarly this week. It was weird reading your writing which felt like it came out of my head! šŸ™‚ Looking forward to seeing more of your lovely work. ~Rita

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