Monday, December 12, 2016

Twentieth Leaf on the World Tree: Bambara Bani (Silk Cotton Tree)

I had a difficult time deciding which tree I wanted to use for this one.  I originally considered the Balanza tree, as it features in the Bambara creation stories-- but it also tends to be considered a tree of misfortune and death, and I don't like the idea of the mixed message.

So I thought about bringing my selection into the present day, and came across the Gliricidia "fertilizer tree", which is a non-native tree that is being used to help fertilize and revitalize modern farm land.

I researched endemic trees to Mali,  I like that African Custard Apple and Hanza are both native, edible, with versatile uses, and support sustainable land care.  And that mahogany is the traditional wood chosen for many of the sculptures and masks.

I even considered the Bambara Groundnut, which is a staple legume, though millet is the primary crop.

Then I came across several references for the Bana tree, but the initial research didn't suggest a particular tree-- more a tree used for ceremonies related to ancestors, which led me to the kapok tree.  The Kapok is suggested to be a symbol of the soul-- but each reference tends to come back to the same single source, and none of these references are African.  Also the kapok originated in South America.

Then I stumbled across the Bani, meaning silk cotton tree, which is symbolic of the ancestors and the path between life and death.  Finding the scientific name Ceiba guineensis (a variety that IS native to Africa) indicated that all 3: Bana, Bani, and Kapok are all the same tree.  Once I discovered that the Bambara also live on a river with the same Bani name, I knew which tree I wanted to use.

I also thought I'd do progress pictures, as I haven't done that in a while (:



The background is already composed of 4 layers of paint.  After drawing my Silk Cotton Tree, I started to outline in my white.



Entirely outlines, including the leaves that come from off the side.


Filling it in the first time.  I'm using my 5/0 paint brush.


Capturing the difference in layers.  By the time I've finished going over it in white, there are 9 layers of paint on this little 3" x  3" space.


Practically done.  But it still needs the final touches:






Did you notice?  It's the single line outline to differentiate the edge of the white from the edge of the color around it.  Even on the edge.

Leading to the final piece:

"Leaves on the World Tree: Bambara Bani"
by Janin Wise
3" x 3" acrylic on mini canvas

Prints and other merchandise available at my society6 store

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Nineteenth Leaf on the World Tree: Amhara Wanza



The Wanza tree is native to Africa and frequently used to shade crops like coffee, or planted near homes or monasteries, so it's not as frequently subjected to the kind of deforestation that has affected so many other trees.

With seven white wanza flowers representing spiritual awakening and the collective consciousness, on a rainbow background symbolizing a bridge to the world tree, the nineteenth leaf in my world tree series is the Amhara Wanza.

"Leaves on the World Tree:  Amhara Wanza" by Janin Wise
3 " x 3" acrylic on minicanvas

Prints and other merchandise available here


Leaves on the World Tree A Brief Review

Today I find myself contemplative and remembering why I started this series.  I know I mentioned in the first post, but I haven't mentioned it since, and it's been several months.

The leaves on the world tree began as a dream in June, and waking to the resounding question, "What am -I- doing to help the world tree flourish?"

Six days after I had this dream, there was the Pulse shooting in Orlando.  And that helped solidify my decision to use a rainbow background.  There's never been any hiding that I am an ally.  And it served as a catalyst to stop contemplating, and to start doing.

I wanted to create a series that individually, people would be able to identify with-- to look at the trees I've researched and think, "Yes, this is one of the symbols for me, for where I come from."  And I've had people reach out to me to let me know that this is -exactly- what's happening.

But I also want to have them seen in a larger context, to be understood that it is, that earth is, where we ALL come from-- that we have so much more in common, regardless of geographical location, ethnicity, gender, or any of the other ways we can choose to divide ourselves.

That our differences should be celebrated as larger parts of the same diverse tapestry.

So before I do the next post with the nineteenth leaf, I wanted to create a montage of the leaves I've done so far:


I'm still working my way to the original 30 I had planned.  I'm just under 2/3 of the way there.

But when it's all said and done, I look forward to the day that the montage contains over 200 leaves on the world tree.  I hope that you do as well.