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Golden Tree

Golden Tree, oil on canvas, 16" x  12"

I usually answer this question with “I don’t know, I just like to do it!” Hiding behind that is a deep conviction that an essential part of being human is our creativity — a drive to take the things we confront in our world and enhance them somehow.

A video of a Yo Yo Ma studio performance popped up as I was mindlessly doom-scrolling on this fall equinox, and I was drawn in. Titled Here and Heaven, it was a collection of musicians, including the vocalist Aoife O’Donovan. Starting simply, the group went on to produce stunning and haunting harmonies. Yo Yo Ma did not take a starring role, but just played his part.

This four minute interlude completely changed my thoughts and point of attention. I brought me to a seasonal sense of balance. I was struck by the way this disparate group of people came together just to create something beautiful, and I felt in that moment that artistic expression is an example of humanity at its best. While other very different actions can also represent our best, the arts are solidly in that category. And our artistic creations can inspire us to be our best.

The tree in this painting grabbed my attention when I was out for a walk. I wanted to climb it! Instead, I used it as reference for this painting, and indulged my fantasy by adding a ladder to invite us into the branches.

What catches your attention and pulls you into a more positive state of mind? When do you do things just to make something better, whether decorating a cake or crafting the wording of your email, engage in problem-solving or smiling and striking up a conversation. I think we are fundamentally creative, and we are happiest when we bring that drive to our activities. And I believe our creations uplift others.