Have you met the singing bird?



A Chinese proverb goes; “If you keep a green tree in your heart, perhaps the singing bird will come.”

i had never heard this beautiful passage before. But a customer contacted me asking if i might illustrate this idea in my own fashion. i was immediately touched by the proverb and was so excited to get underway!

First, i sketched out the rough layout i had in mind, then i typeset the proverb with a combination of font, some alterations to the font, and hand-drawn curves. Once i was happy with that, i printed out the type and took pencil to paper to add the drawings. Finally, i added some very basic color to indicate the strongest/dominant colors i’ll be using in the piece. Of course, i’ll be adding scads of bright hues in the tiny details throughout.

The piece will be done in mixed media on a large wood board and i’ll be sure to post progress pics as i go.

i think working on this piece will be a meditative experience for me. It has been so far. i think of all the meanings the proverb can have to individuals. For me, i think the green tree i need to tend is one of peace and trust in my life and my path. i’ve stopped second guessing and worrying as much as i used to. i know i am where i was meant to be and i hope that the singing bird that will light on my tree is the ability to be happy in the simple moments this life affords me….snuggling my son &  watching Food Network Challenge, just the 2 of us, reading his bedtime stories and patiently waiting as he adds in his parts, teaching him new vocabulary all day long since he asks what words mean ALL the time. : )

i am holding on to peace and contentment  in my heart and welcoming the resulting quiet that allows me to recognize these daily joys.

i wonder if the proverb minds that i’ve interpreted it in my own way? Or if that is the whole point? i think those proverb writers were way smarter than me!

What is your tree? What bird is waiting to perch on its branches?


  1. says

    Oh I *love* this. When we were adopting, several families used this as their “keeping us sane until our baby comes home” motto and mantra. Your translaction of it is lovely.

    I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about this lately- I desperately want to return to school, or at least find a way to make art and art education a more important part of my daily life. So I’m just starting to cultivate my land to *plant* a gree tree, I guess. But the seeds are in my heart…

  2. Jeanette Sloan says


    Recently I saw this quote painted on wood slats in a Pottery Barn catalog. My sister just bought a cottage and I thought this would be a great gift. I thought it would look great hanging in the cottage. Do you have any available. I did not see them on your etsy site.

  3. Randi says

    I was searching for a piece with this quote on it & found a link to your work, I see that another person asked the same question, but was wondring if you had a piece like this for sale, or could make one. Either way, I’d like to say the piece you made above is lovely.

  4. Thandeka Goba says

    Keep a green tree in your heart, and one day the singing bird will come is the proverb which means keep joy alive and the lyrics of love will transcend through all your being and all you touch. We all carry wisdom but it comes from a sacred place entailed by trials and tribulations that helps enhance ones growth. Bottom line be open and honest and all will come to fruition. I am an artist from south Africa was on etsy and saw this beautiful drawing and I thought as a sculptor I would like to create a similar piece in ceramic. Thank you for sharing your blessing and I wish you well in all your endeavors.

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