How must it feel to be a cherry blossom tree and know you have such an important job to do each year? Do cherry trees realize the importance of their duty to provide beauty to all that gaze upon them? Do they understand that their delicate blooms and pale pink color bring smiles to so many people? Are they proud they have made Macon so famous?
With their curvy trunks and twisted branches, there is certainly a lot of pressure on cherry trees to bloom, but each year around this time they never disappoint. Scared of coming out with the frigid temperatures, they may halt blooming for a week or so. If warmer weather arrives early, the warm sunshine may coax them into blooming a little ahead of time. But, bloom they always do!
The incredible beauty of cherry blossoms just begs to be painted. Many artists have used them as their muse — including me. For almost 30 years, I have painted, drawn, photographed and even created replicas of them out of paper. Every year, I wonder what I can possibly do with them that I haven’t already done. How can I celebrate them on canvas? How can I transfer them to paper?
During the last 35 years, I have used their likeness to create lapel pins, porcelain plates and mugs, fine art prints and wearable art. This year I was honored to design the Cherry Blossom Festival’s 35th anniversary pin. This is the eighth pin I have created for the festival.
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For the past couple of years, I took a break from working with the festival. It was hard for me, but in some ways I didn’t have a choice. Back on board once again, I decided to design the 35th anniversary pin. I stared at a blank sheet of paper seeking inspiration. I felt as if the Cherry Blossom Festival, which had always been so special to me, was at a crossroads. I picked up my pencil and thought that was a perfect place to start.
Many times when I seek inspiration, I make a list of things that come to my mind about the project. Quickly, I jot down the first words I think of. When I’m finished, I try to organize them into a manageable state. In the case of the pin design, I kept coming back to three themes — love, beauty and international friendship — the three ideas the festival was originally founded upon. The first thing I did was sketch a simple heart!
After the heart was in place proudly representing our love of cherry blossoms, I couldn’t continue without once again drawing the delicate, pink cherry blossom. I silhouetted it behind the heart-shaped ribbon. The color pink was a given, so I used two shades of it.
Since it is a special anniversary year for the festival, I placed the numbers 3 and 5 in the center of the heart and in front of the cherry blossom. Gold was the color of choice for the numbers. For the festival to be turning 35 years old, I wanted the pin to gleam with pride!
I thought two green leaves were the perfect choice to represent the span of the festival. I placed one leaf at the bottom of the bloom showing the festival’s founding year: 1982. The other leaf proudly points upward representing the new growth and progression from 2017 and beyond. I couldn’t forget the Tiffany blue sky that beautifully compliments the pale pink cherry blossoms. It would be the perfect finishing touch.
Feeling at home again with a festival that’s been part of my life for so many years, I agreed to once again orchestrate and emcee the fashion show with the help of my wife. My dear friend and founder of the festival, Carolyn Crayton, and Stacy Ingram, the board of directors’ chair for the festival, were persistent for over a year begging me to come back. I finally gave in to their requests and said yes!
This year more than ever, we all need to lend our support to a festival that’s been great for our city. So much new and fresh effort has been put into providing exciting events that will reach all ages. As our beautiful city once again turns pink in a few days, let’s all celebrate its beauty. After all, it’s the “pinkest party on earth!”
MORE WITH MARK
▪ Join Mark as he coordinates and hosts the annual Cherry Blossom Festival fashion show on March 30 at Anderson Conference Center. Call 478-301-5470 for tickets.
▪ Visit Mark at his booth at the Mulberry Street Arts and Crafts Festival on April 1-2. He’ll have all his latest Cherry Blossom Festival merchandise and other goodies for sale. Stop by and say hello!
▪ Check out cherryblossom.com for details about all the festivities happening during the festival.