Misery And Stubbornness

I felt miserable. I feel better now. Thank you. Nothing that a good talk with my best friend can't help resolve. For now. I have remained conflicted about painting and doing other leisure activities.  I seem to focus on the process rather than the outcome. To me it is not about painting a picture or drawing an image. It is the fact that I can and I choose to do and I think about what may be if I did not have the right to pursue such activities. I am blessed that I was born in a free country to very nurturing parents and supportive siblings. I rather tend to overdo anything that I do and that includes doing art activities.  

Maybe I should not judge too harshly or react negatively to those who sometimes think I am obsessed with my activities. Looking at these images, someone may have a valid point in saying I am obsessed with oak, acorns and oak leaves. After all, this is supposed to be a leisure activity, not my livelihood. Why am I spending too much time drawing so many of these?

When I first came to the U.S. in 1982, I noticed the tall trees in the park. They were beautiful. However my appreciation was not aroused until the autumn of that year, when the park turned fiery red and blinding orange. The leaves changed color. Still, I was young and restless and concerned about dating, riding my bike and oil painting after my nursing job.

Three years ago, my husband and I took our children to South Carolina to visit my parents-in-law. They happened to live in an area surrounded by a hardwood tree preserve. The towering trees suffocated me with their majesty. I imagined the many scenes they must have witnessed in the past. My mind was racing but more evident was my heart pounding when I saw the biggest oak leaf I have ever seen in my life. It was so huge it filled the 9"x12" Bristol board. It was heaven. I set about to gather leaf specimen. I still have those leaves, they are withered now but pressed in my archival folio. 

Drawing these leaves was the best thing that ever happened here on my blog. The leaves caught the attention of one who is to become my dearest and most beloved sisterfriend. If nothing else, I would just be happy on that event alone.

I started studying oak. I bought books and read articles on oak, their distribution and I relished the botanical sites that catalogued them. There would be an occasional illustration but there was really nothing out there that convinced me to go out and find the books where these illustrations and painting were derived. I decided to catalogue the acorns and their leaves according to...Ces. I shall do them in pen and ink.

L to R. First row: Quercus virginiana, Cyclobalanopsis glauca, Cyclobalanopsis blakei. Second Row: Quercus lyrata, Quercus robur, Quercus laevis. Third row: Quercus rubra, Quercus falcata, Quercus prinus. Top left: Quercus marilandica.

I decided that these oak portraits took forever. At this rate, I'd be done in ten years. Who knows. Maybe I may still do that. The above acorn portraits are done in pen and ink on 9"x12" bristol boards.

I tried different media, colors and styles. They are oaky, okay, I mean but nothing special. I tried drawing them on Artist Trading Cards. I chose ATC sized cards because I wanted to get them matted, frame them and give them to friends as gifts like these framed matted acorns:

I settled on the ATC size and pigment ink. I like its portability and the reasonable length of time it takes to finish an acorn or leaf according to my satisfaction. Okay, so they do look alike. They are the leaves of the cyclobalanopsis genus. In the world of oaks, they are considered primitive.

Here are several acorns and leaf sets. I wanted to post an acorn a day. Since there are over 600 species, that would have made me very busy. I drew my 100th acorn and leaf set last week. Now I am at a standstill. I allowed myself to worry about being considered obsessive. Last night, I decided to stop drawing and painting but as soon as made that decision, I became a most unhappy and miserable person.

Cyclobalanopsis kerrii and Cyclobalanopsis pachyloma

 Cyclobalanopsis chrysocalyx and Quercus darandii

Quercus doulasii and Quercus gravesii

 Quercus libanii and Quercus macrocarpa

Quercus prinus and Quercus nigra

Quercus stellata and Quercus turbinella

I do that to myself. I make myself unhappy. The acorns and leaves below are very special to me. I drew the top one on Valentine's Day. I was at my sister's wake and I did not have a prayer book, so I decided to draw Cyclobalanopsis gilva as a prayer offering. If I have to give up all the acorns, I shall, but this one. Then on the flight back to the US, I drew the Cyclobalanopsis hypophaea. It is my goodbye to my sister's mortal existence. The next time I go home, she won't be there to meet me. She always met me at the airport...

Cyclobalanopsis gilva

Cyclobalanopsis hypophaea

On a separate note, the mango tree where my sister and I once waited for her driver to drive us to her oncology appointment was full of fruits last week.

My sister read every one of my blog posts when she was alive. Thank you, Inday Leah. I think if she was here today, she would like me to finish my project.


Tam Hess said...

What do I want to say? I love the leaves and especially the acorns? You are one of my big inspirations? Don't stop? You'll get over it? Yikes, it's such a personal journey...you do what you gotta do! I just want you to know I love you, and all that there is to YOU! Hugs Ces....

Ces said...

Ah Thank you Tammy. It's our secret. :)

Julia Christie said...

I for one love my Ces acorn! And I love the simplicity of the matting you use. A beautiful series for sure.

Hope you are finding solace in your art. Hugs and know that yes you are an inspiration always. :-)

Bella Sinclair said...

You make me smile. The kind of smile that starts deep within and emanates from every part of my soul. I think someone put 600 oaks here on earth for you to find.


Shirley said...

I wholeheartedly agree with your last sentence, Ces...your sister would want you to complete the project. Maybe it's not completion really, but the processs...I know she would want you to do what you love, and find peace with. Remember, a piece of peace is what this is for you..and that is HUGE! Everyone needs to find that place that comforts, surrounds you with a feeling of being in the moment for YOU. I think that is what these gorgeous nut species are for..for you to work on them, enjoy them, and share them. I am truly honored that you share these with us, Ces..because they are truly a piece of you. I am even more honored that I OWN an original Ces-nut. Keep tending to that place of peace Ces! Big hugs to you - and I'm SO glad my bunny caused you to smile today...TSUP!!

Curious Art said...

Ah, Ces, you know... it is impossible to satisfy everyone. For quite a few years I tried to be something I was not. It never worked & finally carved a deep hole in my heart. I can't say I'm a jolly person all the time now but I do understand that you have to take joy where you find it, even if it baffles others. The wonderful thing is, there are those who WILL appreciate your path & so long as you can connect with them, however few, you won't feel so alone. <3 <3 <3

Ces said...

Hi Julia. I am happy to see you. Thank you for taking your time from your busy schedule. You know, I find solace from the people I love and that seems to be an infinite source. Thank you. Tsup!

Ces said...

Aaaw Shirley, thank you dearest sweet Shirley. Maybe God gave me the gift to draw and paint so I do not go crazy. Thank you for being a part of my life. Tsup!

Ces said...

Yes, but these are people I love and who love me and they watch out for me. They will giive everything they have to save my life. I think they don't know everything about my process because I have been away for so long and I seldom tell them my troubles. Maybe I should, again, like I used to do. I like to at least make them happy with what I do. Otherwise, I don't really see much joy in making art. I have always shared it in order for it to be meaningful. The people I love are a huge part of my life and I will be sad without them. But I know what you mean. They would be mortified if they thought for one minute that they cause me grief. Thank you.

Ces said...



Andrew Finnie said...

Hey I was talking to a famous surfer the other day - well he is afamous surf cinematographer who made a bag full of money in the 70's is is still making ity from his 'hit' work and I was telling him I was retraining as an illustrator and he said 'what's the use' it's all worth nothing in the end, just come and live up here and go surfing and I said to him, 'yeah you're right, of course nothing is the use, we all die in the end and that's that, but if you think that then you will be depressed" but he didn't hear me because in the middle of my great philosophical statetment a wave came and he paddled for it and took off just when I reached the word 'depressed' and when he paddles out again he didn't come and sit near me because I think he knew what I had said and after a while I realised that though he was a Buddhist and had recently given away all of his belongings (books and stuff) he was really unhappy, but then I also undsretood that we are all made to do the things that we 'must' and in doing these things we receive pleasure, whthere it is guilty pleasure or innocent pleasure, it is all pleasure, and that is the meaning of life, to fulfill our destiny, but the difference with you Ces, that in fulfilling your destiny to make art you are not only recieving the guilty pleasure that fulfilling your destiny brings, but you are also giving us pleasure, and in each one of your works is a little universe that is full of joy and happiness and love.

So keep doing what you are doing, that;s what you were made for,
Anyway, drawing is meditative and is cathartic and it never ever needs to be judged.
Your drawings just have that added bonus in that they are beautiful.

Andrew Finnie said...

Cathartic and meditative is good

Ces said...

He is right you know. The only thing that is real in this world is death. Everything else is a futile attempt at being and appearing to be.

Ted Blackman said...

Ces, you are an amazing woman. I'm kinda new to this oak documenting of yours, so I was wondering, are you drawing from real leaves that you have collected or from photographs? It would be a challenge in itself to collect every variety known. And what about the extinct oaks? When you get to those will you sketch from fossil imprints?

However you're accomplishing this great feat, it's a very impressive volume of work. Patience of a saint.

Ted Blackman said...

No word verify. Love it. So relaxing not to deal with that.

Rod MacGregor said...

Keep drawing Ces .........it is a cathartic process.................

Arija said...

I am sure your sister Leah would want you to finis your project. You are not at all obsessive, you are an amateur. The true amateur does things for the love of doing them, which you do. It is a big project to tackle but as I have said before, one day all your oak drawings will come out as a book for their beauty and for identification of species.

PS I miss my sister like hell and don't seem able to settle to even the simplest tasks . . . do keep drawing, your drawings help me to survive too.

audrey said...

I think all the emotions you are feeling right now are quite normal. You have every right to be happy or unhappy, obsessed with drawing or not wanting to draw at all. Loving and hating all at the same time. You are human. You are filled with life and love and sorrow. I admire you. I admire your deep passion. I have loved your art since I first met you, I still love it, and I will always love it. You must do what is good for Ces and what Ces knows she wants to do deep in her soul. I hope you continue to draw. It is a big part of who you are and oh how I would miss seeing your passion come to life on paper and canvas if you were to stop.
TSUP, dear Ces.

Anonymous said...

healers who use subtle remedies use oak for people who are strong, slow and steady like the oak. according to the descriptions of the remedy, they are very reliable and able to take on huge responsibilities and work all hours without stop! they are immensely strong, but although they do not bend, they can break down if they overextend themselves (do not recognize their own exhaustion) by not taking enough rest and relaxation or by refusing to rely on others from time to time. this is when the remedy is given. it restores the natural balance in the person.
i started to think that perhaps drawing and studying the oak tree with such devotion might work the same effect as using the remedy.