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An Autumn Treescape at the Noxubee National Wildlife Refuge

October 22, 2010

It was in the year of 1969, 41 years ago when I was merely 28 years old, and a young mother of a then three year old son, Frank Davis, Jr., and wife of then 32 year old husband, Dr. Frank Davis, Sr. when an autumn tree was placed on a 24 inch by 30 inch stretched 100 percent cotton canvas.
It is a painting of a landscape of a scene consisting of a tree or trees. This is a portrait of a tree. An Autumn Treescape!
A tree is a woody perennial plant.... a single stem or truck, and it grew to a considerable height of lateral branches at some distance from the ground. The material is timber.
A branch or truck of a tree was shaped for the purpose of a wooden pole, stake, or bar-forming part of a structure which was used as a cross on which Jesus was crucified.
We often think of a genealogical tree which is a lineage of our family tree.
The Tree of Knowledge is the tree in the Garden of Eden bearing the apple eaten by Eve. The Tree of Knowledge is also a tree of good and evil.
The Tree of Life is a tree symbolic of life and immortality. Up a Tree is a situation which we are unable to escape in a predicament, we are having great difficulties.
A Treecreeper is a small passerine bird with a down-curved bills which creeps on the truck branch of trees. Tree Cricket is an insect, Tree Doctor is a tree surgeon, Tree Frog a frog which lives in a tree. A Tree House is a house built in a tree for security against enemies, and is also a structure or hut built in a tree for children to play in. Tree Hugger cares for a tree or the environment. Tree Moss are various lichens or mosses growing on a tree. A Tree Ring is a ring in the cross-section of a tree truck indicating year’s growth, A Tree Squirrel lives and plays in a tree. Tree Surgery is the pursing and treatment of damaged or decayed tree to preserve a tree.
My portrait of this autumn treescape is of a single magnifically, splendidly, exaulted, beautiful, and glorious tree. On my canvas I attempted to show you, “My Viewer” grandeur and stateliness on a grand scale of a splendid fine autumn tree.
Autumn is our season of maturity and incipient decay. Autumn brings maturity and ripens The autumn colors seem so deeper to our eyesight. Donne wrote, “no spring, nor summer beauty hath such grace, as I have seen in one’s autumnall face.”
Dickens said, “Melissa might have seen five or thirty summers here-about and verged on the autumnal.”
Autumnal is pertaining to autumn which is characteristic or appropriate to autumn which is maturing or blooming in autumn. It is often a sad time of the year because our life and the life of a tree is in decline. My Moma use to tell me that autumn was a sad time for her since so many family members had died in the autumn of the year.
On this day of painting 41 years ago, I well remember packing up my car with all my art supplies and heading to my favorite “heaven on this earth” which today in 2010... is still my very extra-special get-a-way, escape from our ordinary every day mundane living to my “hide-a-way”...the Noxubee National Wildlife Refuge, just 15 or 20 minutes away from my family home, at 501 Louisville Street home. It was a glorious, sunshiny, bright and beautiful October early morning in the year of 1969.
I was so young, full of energy and creativity that morning as I drove along “whistling a song” in my heart and soul cause I knew exactly where I was going. I had spotted an autumn tree with its leaves at “her” very peak of color and just before “her” leaves would twist, turn, and fall underneath “her” big ‘ole truck and limbs above to later decay and find “her” final resting place and “her” own eternity!
I unpacked my art supplies that morning with great excitement and hope in my finger tips to sketch, paint, and bring home a painting and a special memory of that experience and journey I was about to create on my canvas to last for years to come.
Sure enough this favorite treescape has now lasted in my collection and home for 41 years, and I still admire and love it today. I remember asking God to help me and to use my talent of painting to honor and to show others that this is “Our Father’s World... may carol’s ring and nature sing” ...(our hymn that we had just sung the following Sunday in our church services)...or is “nature ringing and carol’s singing?”
Either way I was completely caught up in another world for the next hours of this day to get lost in my own world of carefully sketching and then squirting out all my paints onto my palette of then many colors to capture within the grains of the canvas what had inspired me to paint and feel of the magnificent autumn day that I have been given as an escape from my ordinary life to my very own “heaven on earth” for merely a few hours.
Imagine being able to get so lost in what you are doing which is much like a marathon runner feels...completely LOST inside a great big bubble...blocking out everyone and everything...thinking, sketching, and painting all the patterns, shapes, colors, bright, medium, and dark shades you are seeing in front of you with your pencils, brushes, and finger tips. It is very intensive work, but I consider it playing with my hands and my heart. It is exploring my creativity to exhaustion at the end of my painting when I have to come back into reality, pack up all my art supplies and head back into my world or reality!
Let’s share this particular painting together of An Autumn Treescape! I’ll re-paint it now with you. Let’s start at the ground with the green grass tall and blowing with the slight breeze of that day. The dark green (Hooker’s Green) makes you enter this painting at the left hand side of my canvas, and we again will read it left to right as we are reading a sentence in a book.
I placed the bottom of the truck of my tree almost in the smack middle of my canvas but just a little more to the right than to the left of the middle of the large canvas. This Treescape had to be on a large canvas since it would be a large portrait of a tree. Look at the interesting truck with its character within the movement of the very truck itself. Begin to let your eyes go from branch to branch, and I count 10 large branches shooting off from the main trunk, count them!
One by one I sketched and painted each branch as it flowed on toward the top of the tree trunk splitting and branching off as if it were an exclamation symbol.
I love the round knot hole to the right side near the top...see it! I wonder if a animal might have lived there?
The sky was merely a very light and white that day only slightly Cerulean Blue that day. The sun was so bright that the entire sky was bright white as well as if I left the canvas white, but not really... the white canvas is covered completely with what we call a “wash blue sky!” I used my paper sacks which I had prepared before I left the house that day. I take a paper sack, cut it in strips leaving a part of the bottom of the strip to hold, and make a brush out of the paper itself. I twist it to hold it in my hands, and dip it into all my yellows, oranges, red, greens both dark and light colors on my palette to make the leaves on this tree “come alive.” I was so lucky to have painted this portrait of “my tree” (I am claiming this autumn tree as “mine” as if I owned it...but not really owned it... because we all... “own”...what is given to each one by merely seeing a world that was created by some higher being!)
“Our tree” had not even lost one leaf when I painted it. I knew that soon each of those lovely leaves would twist, turn, and “dance a jig” as they twirled off and onto the ground as the music stopped playing when the breeze and the wind ended the song and “their” final note was played!
I also used my palette knife as a brush that day to paint the leaves as if “our tree” was wearing “her” most stylish and most beautiful autumn long evening dress she owned that day! “Our tree” was MOST BEAUTIFUL that October 1969 day.
I was very tired and had reached that “runner’s high” at the very end of painting, signed my name and dated it.
I began to pack up all my art supplies to head back home to my three year old son and husband, exhausted and so tired, but had a great feeling of accomplishment with my finished creation.
The sun was beginning to set, and I was beginning to “set” as well. I remember watching the sunset across the sky as I drove towards my “Home Sweet Home” where “I stays!”
A few weeks later a brand new magazine, The New South called and invited me as an artist to become their cover for their September-October issue. I was excited, and invited the photographer and writer to be our guest in our home. I allowed them to choose whatever painting they desired for their cover. They made their choice of this painting. I am including as an insert to my column, the front cover of The New South magazine and a copy of the write-up about the painting so you too can enjoy it.
It has been 41 years ago and I wonder where have all these years gone?
I want to say a great big “THANK YOU” to you, personally, for being “my viewer” to share my great passion of sketching, painting, and creating a painting.
I hope you, “my viewer” will find an extra-special PASSION every day you live life. Promise me to become passionate just about living!
Go outside your comfortable home...cause there is a colorful world...just outside my back screen door in Mississippi...I know and you know there is somewhere not too far away from your “comfort zone.”

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