Where My Garden Grows
Cultivating Joy in the Art of My Life
I make art every day. This has become a pattern with me over time.
Of course, I make all kinds of art, but it is more of a way of life now. This shape of days I nurture together blends my piano and music work with even more full-bodied pursuits like performing and filmmaking. I see my work in layers that are intricately woven into some larger, evolving context. It is evolving because I must move toward wherever my enthusiasm and interests reside. If something becomes boring and feels uninspired, I have learned to walk away from it for a little while, if not indefinitely. My time is too precious to spend it all on something that does not evoke a sense of joy and eagerness.
What I am doing now gives me great joy.
My little weekly drawings of abstract flowers continue. They allow me to answer a good question.
How does beauty exist without color?
Limiting the palette to the grays and blacks of a pencil allows me to answer this question in my own way. Objectivity thrown enthusiastically aside, color may not be as essential as it seems.
My newest project is an unexpected one, but I find it to be extremely satisfying. I have been a long-time admirer of Japanese gardens. In fact, a couple of years ago, I created a short film showcasing one that I visited just outside of Indianapolis, IN, called the Kawachinagano Japanese Garden.
One aspect of Japanese gardens that I love is their lack of boldness. It is a space that is accentuated by textures and composition rather than diverse and colorful flora. The composition is a balance borne out of a lack of symmetry. This kind of garden does not scream “look at me.” Instead, it graciously invites you in to sit still and become a part of its quietude and calm.
I have selected a lovely, out-of-the-way corner of our property to mold a garden inspired by these Japanese principles. It is grounded by a statuesque and stately beech tree, a dogwood tree that blooms with hundreds of little white flowers every year, and our continually flowing mountain spring. I work for one hour every morning, and I have only just begun.
This first phase involves clearing the land, which is roughly about a third of an acre. At an hour a day, it feels like I am going at a snail’s pace, but progress does not have to happen in leaps and bounds. I love being out there as the day begins. It is a much-needed reprieve from my time spent indoors and staring at a computer screen.
This slower pace is allowing me to think about how I want to design this garden. The more time I spend working in this space, the more I get a feel for what it could embody. As I pull weeds or take a break, I imagine the stone structures that will add depth to one corner. My mind drifts toward Japanese maples changing colors in the fall, a seating area to drink tea or have a conversation with a lover, lots of natural wood, a meandering stone path, and little plants thriving in the shade of our enormous beech tree.
I never envisioned landscape design as an art form I would pursue, but the immersive, organic, and physical experience that it offers is very appealing to me at the moment. Both my mom and my partner are avid gardeners, and now I have found my own way into this enchanting calling. As this project evolves, I will be posting more about it.
If art is a way of life, then that is the way I want to go. It is the life I want to live, even if the art happens in tiny increments most of the time.
The payoff may only be private moments of joy and satisfaction, but in the grand scheme of everything, that is more than enough for me.
All art and photos by Roqué Marcelo.
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