Outside us in space there spreads the immeasurable world. Inside us is our world of soul. We do not notice how what lives inside us flashes out and unites with what lives outside us. We are unaware of being the arena in which this union takes place.

– Rudolph Steiner, from the lecture series, “The Meaning of Life”

The painting above is the title page from Mr. Goethe’s Garden, a children’s picture book by Diana Cohn that I illustrated in 2003. As Diana told me at the time, (we went to Weimar, Germany together to visit Goethe’s garden house in person) she had spent 10 years thinking about the book before finishing the text.

Mr. Goethe’s Garden was inspired by a poem by the great German poet, playwright, philosopher, and scientist, Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe. The title, “The Metaphorphosis of Plants,” seemed a bit unusual for a poem, sounding more like a science paper. Not only was it a poem–it became a children’s book.I am still thinking about the text, even a years after finishing the project. While researching my illustrations, I had read many of Goethe’s writings, especially his journal from a trip to Italy, and Conversations with Goethe, collected by his secretary. Some of these ideas take years to form and to sink in, and will always continue to do so.

So far, this is my idea: Drawing from nature is as good a spiritual path as any other. Maybe it is better. While drawing, one finds that  the personal interior world joins with the external world in an indescribable way and they become one. You become a co-creator of all that you see. And all that you see glows and hums with a fantastic beauty.Check back with me in ten years and I may be able to elaborate on that thought.

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