This project was something that doesn't come around very often. If you're lucky, it's once in a lifetime. My wife's parents recently celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary – a truly amazing feat anyway you look at it. Two people have been able to share a wonderful life together, through thick and thin for half a century. That's pretty awesome. So, what in the world do you give them as a gift? Well, if you're like me, there's always someone in the family that will quickly throw your name in the hat to help out. That someone was my wife. Go figure.
To be honest, I have a great relationship with my in-laws and have shared a long history with their family. A lot of the adventures and experiences that the family has shared have been told to or experienced first-hand by me. When the concept of a tree-of-life was mentioned, I gave it a lot of thought. What better way to convey the many adventures they've shared together over 50 years, several states, three kids and a smattering of grandchildren? It made perfect sense and I was honored.
Now, I know this isn't the first tree-of-life illustration to grace the planet, but it would be my own personal rendition of the idea. I would take the many details and experiences from the family and try to depict them in icons, collected together into one, robust and sturdy tree. Since it would probably get pretty busy with all the different colors of everything, I tried to limit it to just two shades of blue. And, to make the tree even more special, I would draw the lower boughs into the shape of the number '50'. See if you can make that out in the last photo.
Some thumbnail sketches from the sketchbook.
And, some details from the finished illustration.
Needless to say, they were very touched with the result. Big smiles on their faces, and even some tears – that's always nice to see. The best part is watching them pore through the different icons and interpreting the significance of each symbol and discovering details they hadn't noticed before.
It was certainly a great way of giving back to people who've made your life that much more complete – in their own way.