Tree of Life

Tree of Life

Tree of Life. Acrylic on Canvas, 24" x 30", © Cedar Lee
Tree of Life. Acrylic on Canvas, 24″ x 30″, © Cedar Lee

This painting was commissioned by a wife as an anniversary gift for her husband.  All she requested was that the painting should depict a Tree of Life, which they used as a symbol at their wedding.

So I began reading about the Tree of Life and what it is–virtually every culture in the history of the world mentions a “Tree of Life,” and the specific meanings of this symbol vary quite a bit.  Some of the consistent themes include life and death, birth and rebirth, and eternity.  So it’s a very spiritual and thought-provoking symbol.

In Chinese mythology, depictions of the Tree of Life often include images of dragons and phoenixes.

According to Wikipedia,

A phoenix is a mythical bird with a tail of beautiful gold and red plumage (or purple and blue, by some sources. It has a 1,000 year life-cycle, and near the end the phoenix builds itself a nest of cinnamon twigs that it then ignites; both nest and bird burn fiercely and are reduced to ashes, from which a new, young phoenix or phoenix egg arises. The new phoenix is destined to live, usually, as long as the old one. In some stories, the new phoenix embalms the ashes of the old phoenix in an egg made of myrrh and deposits it in the Egypt city of Heliopolis (sun city in Greek). The bird was also said to regenerate when hurt or wounded by a foe, thus being almost immortal and invincible — it is also said that it can heal a person with a tear from its eyes and give him/her temporary immortality; a symbol of fire and divinity.

The phoenix is a beautiful metaphor for how we live on in our children.  (The couple in question is about to have their second.)  Also, the fire theme brings to mind romantic love and passion.  So I added two phoenixes to the painting–to represent the two people that are joined by the life they have created together.


Tree of Life Detail 1

Tree of Life Detail 2

Tree of Life Detail 3

Tree of Life Detail 4

Tree of Life Detail 5

Update: I have since created many paintings with the Tree of Life theme! You can see them in the Art By Cedar Archives.

Some of them are available as prints here.


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