Under the tree I saw the face of one I had known for many years, that I had disliked for many years, that I had avoided and that constantly popped out at me from crowds and corners wherever I went. I held my breath, said “Hello,” and waited for the judgement and negativity that I was sure would follow. The tree dropped a leaf onto my eyes and before I could brush it away, I saw inside its tiny veins and watched the edge of moss glow in the soft blue light and swam inside the water that zoomed through both and all of our bodies… the leaf, the tree, myself and the person I always avoided. The moment sank into a green-hued glowing sense of freedom for me.
“Don’t you have anything better to do than stare at a leaf. It probably has bugs on it too.”
I started to argue, then put a plug in my mouth, turned and walked away, thinking that, no, I really don’t have anything better to do. There is nothing better to do.
The sun drifted behind a cloud I saw myself reflected in the eyes of the one I avoided and saw both of us reflected in a pool of water and when the river flowed, our images became one. I looked back and the tree was a forest, the forest a universe, the universe included me and it was all equally important.
“Tree Moss” is 24 in. × 36 in. acrylic on Tyvek paper by John Fish 2011. Painted from a photo I took while visiting Seattle, Washington. One of a series of moss paintings.


green, tree, forest, landscape, scenery, moss, leaves, leaf, branch, seattle, washington, pacific northwest

John Fish is a Los Angeles artist who paints abstracts, landscapes and portraits with expressive painterly strokes and heavily textured surfaces. I explore the way space flows to entwine objects that have no boundaries.

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  • Anne  McGinn
    Anne McGinnabout 3 years ago

    Reading this today make such an enormous, and positive, impact John. I have a coworker I try to avoid for the very same reasons. I will try to see the flow between us today. Gorgeous work.

  • I’m so glad someone can relate. thanks so much for commenting and good luck

    – John Fish

  • mmargot
    mmargotabout 3 years ago

    You have captured the giant oak outside my bedroom that is always covered by moss; next time I look at it I will think of your words!

  • thank you so much for your comment

    – John Fish

  • linaji
    linajiabout 3 years ago

    my fave of your series, the green just reaches to the freshness in nature, and the story feels like a moment of changing the direction of thought, what seems to work for me.
    beauty all around John.

  • thank you for the wonderful comments. much appreciated

    – John Fish

  • annamora
    annamoraabout 3 years ago

    beautiful … both

  • thank you very much

    – John Fish

  • adambogusz
    adamboguszabout 3 years ago

    love this John…love the way you use green. I have always found it a difficult colour to incorporate into my paintings….you have it mastered.

  • thanks Adam. green’s hard for me to use, but with this subject I don’t have much choice

    – John Fish

  • banrai
    banraiabout 3 years ago

    green, fresh new starts perhaps… like very much

  • thanks so much

    – John Fish

  • Keith Reesor
    Keith Reesorabout 3 years ago

    Marvelous John!! :)

  • thank you Keith

    – John Fish

  • Richard G Witham
    Richard G Withamabout 3 years ago

    Wow: wonderful image and poetry/prose John. The image of Father kept creeping into my mind while I read your words, and the painting has a related sense of strength and flow – as in blood flowing through generations. I agree with Lina about the idea of change and that aspect of change that is hanging on.

  • Nira Dabush
    Nira Dabushabout 3 years ago


  • linskudd
    linskuddabout 3 years ago

    An interesting image & words. It reminded me of thoughts of people who cross ones path. How as they breathe out in passing and you might breathe in, breathing in some of their essence, which flows deep into your lungs and perhaps remains there, forever to travel with you – a part of someone or something , a plant, a tree – until we are all carrying so many parts within us! Didn’t mean to write so much. :o)

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