I was a little girl in the branches of a treehouse.
Just a few boards wedged into some branches, really.
I remember leaning back on the tree trunk,
my legs dangling in empty air, a breeze in my hair.
Robins, Bluejays and squirrels shared my tree with me.
We watched the bees on the flowers in my father’s garden and inhaled the sweet smell of summer.
Then came high school.
The other kids knew what to say to each other
when they gathered in the gym after school. I wanted to walk in but I didn’t know what to say and the clever kids were always
laughing, laughing, laughing.
I didn’t want it to be at me.
I traded my tree house for an easel.
I knew how to have a conversation with a canvas.
A canvas is like a book, except that shapes and colors
are the words.
I was surprised when others were able to hear the stories
in my canvases. It seems they, too, were struggling to get
by without a script.
A canvas and a palette full of paint allows me to speak
with others. With a brush in my hand, I can share my
robins, bluejays, squirrels and bees. I can share my
tree house and the flowers in my fathers garden.
I can share Alaska.
I can reveal fascinating people.
I can wrestle polar bears.
You can too.
To face a bear is to face your own fear.
I paint bears for you to face.
I paint motion holding still.
I paint things that surprise me.
Do they surprise you, too?
What could be more surprising
than to live in a land of midnight sun?
Do something unexpected today. Surprise yourself.
And I will tell you why I sign my paintings, “Raven.”