The workday ended and I replaced jeans with sweats. However I was very restless with cabin fever. To shake it off, I usually walk a couple of miles through the Saginaw Chippewa Reservation; our home borders tribal property. This evening the sleet, cold, and icy north wind was discouraging and I walked in the same conditions on the prevous two days. Painting or website development came to mind but that would involve more sitting-which I had been doing all day. I decided to create a large painting, use big brushes, and most importantly, stand. I looked through my Flickr photos for inspiration and chose a cedar tree for reference. Painting big brushstrokes is very freeing as opposed to sitting down hunched over the paper while working on smaller subjects.
Northern White Cedar is native to Michigan and always present wherever I lived. As a teen I sometimes use the fragrant boughs as a sleeping mat and fuel for the campfire when roughing it in the woods of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. The wood smoke is wonderfully scented.
I have often drawn and painted cedars. The bark swirls around limbs and hints at ancient, gnarly life. I drew the sketch on the right one evening along the banks of the Chippewa River at a nature preserve called Sylvan Solace. Written on the sketch is “giizhik”, the Ojibwe word for cedar. Burning of the greenery is a form of purification, and giizhik is one of the four sacred herbs of the Anishinabek, along with tobacco, sage, and sweetgrass. Cedar used to be called “Arbor Vitae” which is Latin for “Tree of Life.
I am very thankful that painting and this tree helped me get though the frustrations of our current times. Creating reminds me that I’m still free and an expressive being and I’m very grateful! I’ll think I will smudge with some cedar soon.
Thank you for reading my very first blog post! I would appreciate a comment and some constructive criticism.