Three views of an oak

ScanI was recently inspired to try sketching again, as I had tried for a while many years ago, not because I’m any good at art — honestly, I have no idea what I’m doing — but because it forces me to really look at things. So I took a couple of pencils and a sketch pad along on our visit to son and daughter-in-law and granddaughters in Toronto last week. One day while the girls worked at their art table on the porch I perched in front of a tiny oak tree, newly planted, and I looked and looked some more and drew what I saw. As you can (barely) see, I was tentative with my lines, light with my pencil, aiming for literal. It was fun though and I more or less got what I was after. (The actual tree isn’t very substantial yet either!)


While I worked, the 7-year-old came alongside and did her own sketch of the tree, which she presented to me. It’s a generous, cheerful tree. She was loose with her pencils, unhesitating, and quickly captured the shape of leaves and branches. She made the trunk ruddy, the leaves an optimistic green.

Then the 4-year-old, who must have wondered why I took so long, erasing and straining over my tree, presented me with her version. There was concern in her voice. “Here Grandma,” she said. “Maybe this will help you.” Not just one tree but five, and pink flowers too, and the blue sky and a happy face (hers?) and humps of earth. Wonderful, its inclusiveness, its feeling.Scan

I’m touched by the age-related integrity of each picture but I’m studying theirs. (Maybe that will help.) I want to see with their generosity, their emotion. Maybe I’m old enough to stop being so literal again.


8 thoughts on “Three views of an oak

  1. Ah Dora, this is a gem! Yes, drawing is more about seeing, really stopping to look, and I applaud you for taking it up again. And now I’d better do the same. I have sketch books with me often, but of late I have not. So here’s to the joy of seeing and drawing and celebrating humps of earth and happy faces!

    Mary Ann >

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  2. This is an amazing & inspirational story in which art & life truly intersects in these wonderful three intergenerational sketches which convey the fullness of life together. At the request of her Dad, we brought our 9 year-old granddaughter (whom we’re visiting in PA right now) “proper/real artist” sketch pads & pencils because “she’s beginning to take her art quite seriously.” And she does show signs of strong artistic gifts well beyond her years, so it’ll be fun to see where this goes..

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