IMAGE OF THE WEEK
Olives are on my mind lately. I’m in the process of designing and illustrating a new picture book, to be published this fall by Heliotrope Books: The Life of an Olive. I’ve been researching and drawing olives for over a month, cobbling together the long history of these amazing trees into a picture book for children. It’s a huge project – but I keep reminding myself of a saying from the Talmud: Just as the olive yields light only when pounded, so are man’s greatest potentials realized only under the pressure of adversity.
Olives have much to teach us.
Several years ago, I was commissioned to create a piece that symbolizes the arc of a life. What kind of life, I asked the publisher? The answer was up to me (we artists get to mimic our Creator now and again). I love everything about olives, except the way they taste right off the tree (don’t try it) – so I chose a ripening olive to represent waxing life; and a wrinkled and aging one, dropping to the ground, to represent waning life.
What of the hands? Well, humans play a direct role in the life of an olive tree, as it cannot thrive without regular pruning – whereas a well-pruned tree can regenerate and produce fruit for thousands of years. It therefore made sense to depict a human hand reaching to pluck the young fruit, and letting the dying one return to the earth.
I don’t often produce such a simple image as this one. I enjoyed the lack of detail, and painting the gradient by hand. Sunset and sunrise colors create a sense of transition.
If anyone has an idea for a better title for this piece, do let me know. firstname.lastname@example.org