Taking Notice

Posted by Kathryn Kane, Artist

Taking Notice
Outburst, a painting by Kathryn Kane

A few years ago, while watching 'Law & Order,' I thought, “I’d make a terrible witness; I never notice anything.” So I decided to pay closer attention to my surroundings, at least while walking my dogs in the woods. This would help my art, too, I felt.

At first, I noticed trees, discovering that, for me, trees with broken or damaged bark offered more interesting compositions. But I gradually realized that a scarred trunk and missing bark exposed the beating heart of the living creature, and its vulnerability. I began to feel compassion and affection for the trees in the forest preserve.

Later I caught sight of the mushrooms that grew on some trees. I found they also created dynamic patterns and many were lovely and delicate, so I painted them, too. But in researching these mushrooms, I learned they are a sign that the tree is dying from a fungus infestation. Once again, the mortality of the forest created a new beauty that captivated, and grieved me.

My mother suffered from chronic pulmonary disease, and spent the last two years of her life on oxygen, and bed-ridden. We were fortunate that she had very good hospice care during this time. She once told me she liked to watch the progress of the sun as it moved around her room during the course of the day. I think that warmed her and connected her to the natural world outside.

I probably still wouldn’t be a good witness for 'Law & Order.' But I’ve learned a greater reverence for the quiet durability and grace of mortal creatures.


All are welcome to view the art of Kathryn Kane throughout February in our Atrium Gallery.
The Gallery is located in the JourneyCare Administation Building at 2050 Claire Ct. in Glenview, and is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays.

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