Prepping for a show with a theme is often an exercise in restraint. This is not a bad thing - on the contrary it's about focus and boundaries. I've often mentioned the candy store syndrome, otherwise known as the Blank Canvas Stare. With so many possibilities, it's classic to become paralyzed and do nothing, except maybe the laundry. But with a theme, I'm less distracted by the vastness of the Universe, and grounded by a simple subject, color or concept.
Case in point: I'm preparing for a show at Globe Fine Art in Santa Fe in October. It's a 4 person show with a theme focused on trees. This is a subject close to my heart, so I'm thankful to spend time with my favorite images and see them in new ways. Trees are life, and I watch their bones sketched across the sky. Creating a body of work about trees gives me permission to use again and again the forms I love. No need to internally apologize for using yet another tree. Bring it on!
The great writer/mystic Herman Hesse wrote:
"In their highest boughs the world rustles, their roots rest in infinity; but they do not lose themselves there, they struggle with all the force of their lives for one thing only: to fulfill themselves according to their own laws, to build up their own form, to represent themselves. Nothing is holier, nothing is more exemplary than a beautiful, strong tree. When a tree is cut down and reveals its naked death-wound to the sun, one can read its whole history in the luminous, inscribed disk of its trunk: in the rings of its years, its scars, all the struggle, all the suffering, all the sickness, all the happiness and prosperity stand truly written, the narrow years and the luxurious years, the attacks withstood, the storms endured.
A tree has something to say to us: Be still! Be still! Look at me! Life is not easy, life is not difficult. Those are childish thoughts. . . . Home is neither here nor there. Home is within you, or home is nowhere at all."