Six years ago, I had the opportunity to travel in Europe for 3 months. I had lofty visions at the time as I traveled to get clear on who I was and what I wanted to do.
I arrived in Amsterdam with one question circulating in my mind intended to provide me with a focus-- "What do I Cherish?". After visiting the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, I was inspired to create a 6 foot canvas based on his painting "Almond Blossom" filled with responses from friends to the question, "What do you Cherish?"
That became the The Cherish Tree.
I returned to Amsterdam last Wednesday and was filled with adrenaline. At the Van Gogh Museum I found "Almond Blossom" as alive and vibrant as ever. Only this time, I understood better how Van Gogh made it glow. He had studied Delacroix and Vermeer and all the masters of color and light that preceded him. He truly delved into a conceptual understanding of how our eyes mix color to create vibrancy.
Note how the tree branch is made up of bold strokes of color from the same family to create halations. As well, some of the blue, beige and green strokes are the same value thus creating invisible boundaries. These are all techniques Van Gogh had studied and that he advances in his bold and crafty style. One thing I love about his strokes as he pushes the paint around is how much fun it looks like he had.
This was the painting from which I modeled the Cherish Tree. I asked everyone I knew to tell me what they cherish and I included their text in my painting. The Cherish Tree went on to become a sculpture that was the altar for the Health and Harmony Festival and was an installation at Burning Man.