Discover more from Dandelion Seeds: Illustrated Essays
On creative context
Sneak peek Tuesday: Vol. 3
A few years ago, I read — or rather, savored — a beautifully illustrated book called Gardens of Awe and Folly, by author and artist Vivian Swift.
In the book, Vivian tells the story of nine gardens around the world, from the Jardin Majorelle in Marrakech to a Japanese garden on Long Island. But it’s the final garden she visits in Rio de Janeiro that was my favorite to read about — not only for her lush paintings of orchids and leaves, but also for what she shares at the end of the chapter:
“I kept telling everyone, in the weeks following my trip to Brazil, I stood under a poinsettia tree!
And no one ever said Wow. Obviously, I wasn’t telling it right.
So that’s why I wrote this book.
You see, when you come back from Brazil and people ask you, How was it?, they really don’t want to hear about plants. They want to hear about how you stayed up all night doing the samba in the street, and the number of times you fell in love with a hunky Carioca, but not about a Euphorbia pulcherrima on the edge of the Atlantic Forest.
Unless you put it in context.
So I wrote this whole book just to put that garden experience in context, that very personal, one-to-one moment I had with Planet Earth that made me go Wow!”
In a way, I had very similar motivations for creating “Home is a Window Seat.”
There was a certain window seat I happened to sit in last October, and a certain photo I managed to capture of that window seat — as my daughter Elena Rose, who was just six months old at the time, looked out of it.
That moment has stayed with me ever since, and I knew I wanted to create an illustrated essay about it.
But just as Vivian wrote, I also realized that to fully express why it’s stayed with me, I needed to put the moment in context. To bring together the other window seats I’ve looked out from and loved, and go about the business of seeing what they’ve meant.
So as I put the finishing touches on the final installment of “Home is a Window Seat,” which I can’t wait to share with you next week, I thought it would be fun to share the photo that started it all, and the painting it inspired.
Here’s to creative context — and the meaning it helps us find,
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