The Road Less Traveled
The Road Less Traveled
by Ellen Rice
"The Road Less Traveled ..." is one of my favorite paintings.
I painted it with my mother-in-law in mind around the time she passed on. She was an angel in my life, a truly beautiful, loving spirit who brought light into the lives of many people whose paths she crossed.
She loved the feeling of light I captured in my early paintings, and The Road Less Traveled By is about light... and paths. This is one of those paintings that "painted itself." It's not a specific place, except perhaps in my heart, "the kingdom of heaven within," a place I'd like to be or perhaps somewhere I've been at some time.
I started with the sun and worked out from there. A distant mountain range just sort of emerged, then a meadow, then the old oak tree and split rail fence and the highlights from the sun gilding branches and grasses.
After it was finished, I put it in the middle of a large stack of prints to flatten out ripples from the water colors, and there it lay for more than a few years, forgotten, only to reappear at a time when I needed the special feeling of light it gives me most.
To my surprise, the original's first showing drew a great deal of attention. It was a show stopper. After several showings, I decided to put it in print. Not everyone can afford an original, and I wanted to share whatever it is about this painting that draws often teary-eyed, emotional exclamations of "I love your tree!"
I named it after the last line in Robert Frost's poem, a poem whose sentiments strike home:
"The Road Not Taken"
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that, the passing there
Had worn them really about the same
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood. And I -
I took the one less traveled by,
and that has made all the difference.
Later, a woman who purchased a copy of my print sent me a poem the painting reminded her of. She'd clipped it from a church program many years ago, tucked it in a corner of her dressing table mirror and referred to it many mornings since. She said she wanted to share it:
"The Tree" By Sue C. Boynton
Lord, let me learn from this old tree, That there is dignity in loneliness. Beauty in broken branches, strength in twisted, storm-beaten tors. Help me to see that underneath, If roots go deep enough. No storm can wreck the life, That from them reaches to the sky. Help me to remember the important thing... To stand where God has placed me.