The Alaska art print “Cottonwood Corona” features a bottom-up view of one of my favorite black cottonwood friends that lives in the neighborhood.  Our long driveway out to the road provides a great afternoon walkabout with the dogs in all kinds of weather conditions, and taking this route ensures we see the cottonwood every day.  The walk is just long enough to stretch our legs a bit and refresh the oxygen uptake before the afternoon snack.  It’s challenging in the winter when the packed snow car tracks get rained on and the whole long stretch becomes six inches of slush.  Then conditions most likely change again and the slush freezes!  But we are out there every day regardless, picking our way along, doing our very best not to fall.  The dogs never seem to have a problem.  In this case, four feet are better than two, I guess.

Here’s the story behind the image:  it’s a quiet afternoon except for the crunch crunch of boots on snow.  The dogs pad alongside me, investigating various smells in the snowdrifts.  It’s not too late in the day, but the sun is already low in the sky.  I’m focused on the ground at my feet, making sure to step carefully, and at the same time watching what the two girl dogs are sniffing to make sure it doesn’t end up in their mouths.  We round the curve to make the last bit before the road and I stop for a breath.  Times like this I like to take a moment to expand my bubble of awareness from that which is under my nose, to reach out with my senses and experience the unique place and time in which I find myself.  Glancing up, I notice I’m under the cottonwood tree, and the setting sun is passing behind it to the southwest.  The snow reflects some light, so the trunk and branches are not completely backlit.  Yesterday’s snowfall still sits on the branches, so when I zoom in, the effect of the black branches outlined with snow against the sunset sky is like stained glass.  It’s absolutely mesmerizing ~

I’m not perfectly satisfied with the enlarged giclee print when it gets sent to me a few weeks later from my printer in Juneau, as the zoom has translated into some pixelation along the tree branch edges.  But the stained glass effect is compelling nonetheless, and I decide to try something new to salvage the work.  Grabbing a fine point black art marker, I begin smoothing every line of the branches, working every edge from every angle.  Yes, that is getting me where I want to go with this.

As I work, I think about the cottonwoods I’ve come to know and love on this property and around the community.  They call to me in all seasons:  the sweet scent of the buds in spring inspires some folks to harvest them for making oils, balms, salves or tinctures; the soft rustle of the leaves I call the Cottonwood Song; and when the cotton emerges from the seed pods in the summer months, it can cover the ground like snow! But for today, we have real snow on the ground, and I am left to dream in anticipation of the green times to come.

Winter Wall Art by Alaskan Artist Lillian Ruedrich.  Love this print?  Click here to purchase it now.  Enjoy it as a 5X7 blank notecard, giclee print matted only (finished size 12″X15″) or framed giclee print (finished size 14″X17″).