the responsible overseeing and protection of something considered worth caring for and preserving.

6" x 6"

140# cold-press watercolor paper

collage, acrylic paint, ink, paint marker, watercolor pencil, Sharpie

This piece was inspired by a short essay from Thich Nhat Hanh where he says that “forests are the lungs outside of our bodies.

The background collage is a guidebook page showing a river system (it said “lake district” at top). The green and blue were chosen to represent trees and lakes/rivers.

My husband has chronic lung issues, and a rare lung infection he’s been trying to kick for over 2 years. Also, he works in the medical field and we’re living through COVID-19. The idea for this painting may have been based on the quote above, but I think about lungs a lot. It turns out they’re really fun to paint, and I enjoyed the sloppy style of this one.

When I completed the lungs and thought this was done, I realized it wasn’t communicating the word “stewardship” well enough. It was just a cool pair of lungs. It needed something abrupt, because I want the viewer to stop and think when they see one of my pieces. Not just go, oh look, a cool pair of lungs. This is often when I turn to the ever-risky, impossible-to-control paint splatter. This black ink blot is our current disregard for the long-term environmental effects of the industrial revolution. We now know better, but things haven’t changed. From Thich Nhat Hanh (Peace is Every Step):

“If we want to continue to enjoy our rivers–to swim in them, walk beside them, even drink their water–we have to adopt the non-dual perspective. We have to meditate on being the river so that we can experience within ourselves the fears and hopes of the river. If we cannot feel the rivers, the mountains, the air, the animals, and other people from within their own perspective, the rivers will die and we will lose our chance for peace.”

“‘Throwing a plastic bag into the garbage, I know that I am throwing a plastic bag in the garbage.’” That awareness alone helps us protect the Earth, make peace, and take care of life in the present moment and in the future. If we are aware, naturally we will try to use fewer plastic bags. This is an act of peace, a basic kind of peace action.”

Click here to watch the final step of dropped paint.

Stewardship mixed media word painting by Sarah M. Schumacher