Autumn tree page

Autumn TreeAutumn leaves stencilAutumn tree background 2Autumn Tree poemThis is a page from my small journal in which the prompt was to imagine that we were part animal or plant. So I turned my self into an autumn tree (yes it looks a bit creepy!), and this prompted me to write a poem about reaching the autumnal years (see end of post for the poem)

I could not fit the whole poem on this small page, so I just wrote a few phrases of it and decided that I would make another autumn tree page in my larger journal.

I cut this stencil from waxed stencil paper and used it with gesso. On the left page I used the leaves as a mask, painting gesso all around them. On the right page I used the stencil, painting gesso only inside the leaf shapes.

Then I painted a couple of autumnal colours over both pages, wiping it back as I went, the gessoed areas resisting the paint and ending up lighter. This is the classic gesso resist technique that I have used quite a lot.

I found a few autumn leaves online and printed them out to make a bit of a leafy border, then wrote my poem.


Here is the poem:


I am becoming an Autumn Tree

I am becoming an autumn tree
My leaves no longer greenly, perkily lifting
Toward the sun
My limbs sometimes creaky in the wind,
All my seeds have floated away and now bloom
In far off lands
My blossoms have lost the blush of youth
And I foresee the day when my leaves will fall, one by one
Into the silence of winter.

And yet, the sap still pulses in my veins,
the breeze still sings in my branches,
and my leaves, Ah my leaves are a blazing torch,
lighting up my corner of the forest.
I offer my gifts to those who come searching,
Vermilion and crimson, russet and gold,
The autumn illuminates me, I am aglow
with the wisdom of many seasons,
and my autumn song may yet become
the sweetest of them all.

The Holy Tree

“Beloved gaze in thine own heart, the Holy Tree is growing there…”

This is from “The Two Trees”, one of my favourite poems by W.B.Yeats. The poet encourages us to look into our own hearts with love and see the beauty and holiness growing there, and not to look through the “Bitter glass” where we see ourselves as an ugly bleak landscape distorted by self hatred. I will include the whole poem at the end of this post. Loreena McKennit has recorded a beautiful version of this poem (she wrote the music) which I have arranged to sing in my women’s choir Mystica, (and they do a beautiful job of it!).

How I made this page: I had collected this picture of a tree goddess from somewhere ages ago, and stuck her on a turquoise background. The page then sat untouched for months until I saw a mandala tree similar to this that someone posted on facebook. I considered downloading some mandalas form the net but I really wanted them to feel like mine, so I drew 3 mandalas on yellow paper using some coloured markers. The 3 largest ones are the originals. Then I scanned them and made them several different smaller sizes, printed them, cut them out and stuck them on the tree. I love the way they looked when they were reduced in size. I wrote most of the words of the first verse but had to leave out a couple of lines that wouldn’t fit.

You can find the Loreena McKennit version on youtube here:

I’ll leave you with the original poem, and remember you all have a beautiful holy tree growing in your own hearts. Love and light to all.

BELOVED, gaze in thine own heart, The holy tree is growing there;

From joy the holy branches start, And all the trembling flowers they bear.

The changing colours of its fruit Have dowered the stars with merry light;

The surety of its hidden root Has planted quiet in the night;

The shaking of its leafy head Has given the waves their melody,

And made my lips and music wed, Murmuring a wizard song for thee.

There the Loves a circle go, The flaming circle of our days,

Gyring, spiring to and fro In those great ignorant leafy ways;

Remembering all that shaken hair And how the wing├Ęd sandals dart,

Thine eyes grow full of tender care: Beloved, gaze in thine own heart.

Gaze no more in the bitter glass The demons, with their subtle guile,

Lift up before us when they pass, Or only gaze a little while;

For there a fatal image grows That the stormy night receives,

Roots half hidden under snows, Broken boughs and blackened leaves.

For all things turn to barrenness In the dim glass the demons hold,

The glass of outer weariness, Made when God slept in times of old.

There, through the broken branches, go The ravens of unresting thought;

Flying, crying, to and fro, Cruel claw and hungry throat,

Or else they stand and sniff the wind, And shake their ragged wings; alas!

Thy tender eyes grow all unkind: Gaze no more in the bitter glass.