Friday, 15 April 2016

A couple of faces, and a very bad surprise

I haven't kept up with my 30 Faces challenge very well. I have to admit that by the end of last week, I was already getting a bit bored and uninspired with it, and I wasn't sure if I really wanted to continue with it. I decided to switch from painting in my journal to drawing with charcoal, and I enjoyed doing that.

Prompts:  Monochrome, Muted Palette, Silence, Music

But then came Tuesday, and it brought a bad surprise. This is what I used to see outside my bedroom window. A beautiful old apple tree full of character, a home and playground for many birds, which I enjoyed watching flying and hopping around in the garden. There even was a big gorgeous jay that used to turn up for a few days twice a year for the past two year. 

When I opened the shutters on Tuesday morning, seeing the soft green leaves and pale pink buds emerging on the tree in the half dark made me smile, and I was looking forward to seeing it in full bloom soon. Then, when I got home in the evening and went into the bedroom, something felt odd. I couldn't quite put my finger on what was different. I went to the window to open it and it took a few seconds for the realisation to settle. The tree was gone. So thoroughly, there wasn't even a stump left. It was a shock. I've had no idea that my landlady was planning to have it cut down. It had probably been there long before she moved into the house, and that has been a few decades.

I loved this tree. It's old gnarled mossy branches with big mushrooms growing out of them, the shade and cool it gave my bedroom and flat in the summer, it's beautiful pink blossoms in spring that attracted the bees, all the birds that lived in it. I banged my head several times on that bird house, and smiled in bed before falling asleep in the autumn, when I heard the odd overripe apple plop down on the ground.

And that's not all of it. A few minutes later I realised that the other tree was gone too. A big huge beautiful tree at the end of the garden opposite my living room. A thick straight trunk with long thin evergreen branches hanging down (I have no idea what tree it was). I loved to see its branches dance around on windy evenings, and I could often see bats flying around there in the dusk. Gone too. Not a trace left.

I love trees, and every tree that is cut down hurts me in my heart, and seeing these beautiful friends gone is heartbreaking. And I really didn't understand why my landlady didn't tell and warn me about her plan. It's only me on the upper ground floor and my landlady on the first floor in this house. You should think it should be possible to communicate with each other? Of course it is her property, and she can do with it what she wants. But I would have wanted to know. After all, that tree was right outside my window and it's presence or absence affects my living space. It would just have been the decent thing. I would still have been heartbroken, but at least I would have been prepared.

Prompt: Water

I couldn't go upstairs to ask her about it on Tuesday, I was too upset about it. And I didn't feel much like thinking about drawing a face for the day's prompt either. But I did end up drawing in my sketchbook, putting down my feelings in words and ink lines.

I did ask her the next day, though. The big old tree had been sick and wasn't stable anymore, in danger of falling over. Fair enough. You wouldn't want a tree like that falling on your house, or anybody else's. But the old apple tree's only offence, apparently, was to be "old, ugly, and not producing many apples anymore anyway". Well, I found it beautiful and full of character, it brought me joy in so many ways. She didn't quite seem to understand first why I was rather upset about her not telling me in advance, but I think eventually she realised that I really cared about that tree. We're different people. She's social. I care about trees. I appreciate nature and its beautiful character, she only saw the work it made for her, and not the richness and life it provided.

I've been having the blinds drawn down all week, so that I don't have to see that dead, scared garden, that before was so full of life. Another thought entered my mind too. Maybe it is time to start looking for a new place? When I moved in, almost 9 years ago, I never thought I would stay here for that long. I'm not good with change, with letting go, and with trusting that something equal or even better might follow. And the thought of trying to a new, affordable flat that is still big enough to have a separate art room, is something bordering to a minor life crisis. But as one of my work colleagues said, the thought has been released out to the universe. And at the weekend, I plan to sit down and make a list of all the things my ideal new home should have. It might well take me another couple of years to finally find it and make the move. But there's no harm in starting to look around. And in the mean time, I'll work on seeing possibilities instead of obstacles...


  1. So sorry about your trees, that is always so sad. They have been cutting down a lot of trees here, too, and saying they are diseased....sometimes hard to believe. Love the charcoal faces you made. Have a good week. Happy PPF, hugs, Valerie

  2. What a shame to cut down such a lovely tree! Hope u can finish your face challenge, they are looking great

  3. Stunning portraits. They are really expressive.
    Thanks for sharing the most beautiful photos.
    Happy PPF and weekend xx

  4. that is so very sad as I too love my trees and feel a connection with them. I wonder if you would be able to plant a little tree in a huge pot which she then couldnt know down. I love your sketches full of meaning

  5. I feel your pain! I love looking out on nature everyday. Change is hard but can be very rewarding because you are making choices for yourself! Good luck with your plans!

  6. Argh! Oh I feel your pain too. I adore trees and we've just discussed (my hubby and me) that we couldn't possibly live without trees nearby. I have people in my family that just don't get nature and I find it so hard to understand. Obviously your landlady had to make the choice to make the garden safe, but it's one that I would struggle with.
    I think it's the shock of loss that has upset you, but then it sounds as if you are a little unsettled anyway and the tree going has just been highlighted that fact.
    Maybe a good thing can come out of this, and new beginnings lie ahead.
    Or maybe you could ask the landlady to put in another healthy young tree... and if you contributed then it could be a sizeable one.
    The tearful portrait makes me feel all teary too. It's brilliant.
    I hope you can find some good out of this. Good luck xx

  7. That is such a sad story. Your art, however, is very good and the little one so emotional. Sending tree hugs.

  8. first of all what beautiful portraits!! I too would have been upset about the trees and the whole way your landlady handled it. But I love how you saw a sign in this whole thing and perhaps the universe is telling you there is a new place awaiting you-with trees:)

  9. I feel the same way about trees and all the life they hold. It would have been a shock to me, too. Maybe it is time to think about your perfect place. Even with my limited choices I found a place better than my last one--and I tend to fear that wouldn't be the case, too. I kind of handed it over to the universe...and did what I had to do toward the vision. Yes! Write down everything your perfect place would have and be. :)

  10. Oh dear I feel you! The exact same thing happened to me and I own my place. For some reason the strata management company thought my tree needed removing without telling me. I was devastated beyond words... first world problems...but like you, I felt the exact same way and it didn't go away for years. The beauty, the privacy and shade it provided was heart was broken as is yours. The law here is if you remove a tree you must replace it...and I reminded them of that... it took two tries to get something rooted but it's not the same. So sad...I almost cried when I saw your illustrations of your well done!! Funny how such small changes can affect our world so drastically. I bought my very first house because of the tree in the front yard. I was appalled when a neighbour asked me to remove it... 40 years later that tree is still there! On another note your faces are gorgeous...I especially love the first and last of the grouping. Stunning work and so much heart in this post!! So sorry for your loss...the desire for new surroundings is in the universe so we shall see where that takes you now! for my tree ordeal. It's been almost a decade but it feels like last year!! Wishing you all the sorry...

    Hugs Giggles

  11. Your art and pictures are lovely.

    OH NO about the poor trees! I know how you must feel as I was heartbroken when they cleared the beautiful bushland behind our back fence some years ago. There were lovely big gum trees that housed a variety of birds, including kookaburras. I loved having that tract of nature right behind our back fence. The tree branches shaded our back yard and we would often have a picnic beneath them. The bushland was cleared and destroyed to make way for more housing. I cried and was very sad. I missed the trees and the regular birds for a long time afterwards. I'm so sorry you had this happen also. My tree ordeal is on my blog at the following link -

    Maybe it is time for a move.

    Wishing you better days whatever you decide to do. xx

  12. Oh I am so sorry! I understand how upset you are, since the same thing happened to my bird loving parents a while ago. Their neightbour cut down a tree that meant many birds coming in to their garden which they love. And the dissapearing tree, many no more birds... We have since bought them a tree to plant in their garden but it will take a long time to get the birds back. Very sad. Drawing faces is a great way of expressing your feelings. Keep at it and good luck with the search for a new exciting move!!