Follow Here To Purchase The Olive Tree: An Artistic Adaptation

Authors: Christine Layton Graham, Author; Carol Layton Ogden, Illustrator; Joan Layton Merrell, Calligrapher

Publisher: Cedar Fort Publishers

Inside this gentle book, three artists invite readers to an artistic adaptation of a story by the pre-Christian era prophet Zenos.  

Intrigued by Zenos’ allegory for many years, one sister, author Christine Layton Ogden, weaves the story of the ‘tame’ and ‘wild’ olive trees  retaining the beloved language of long ago while shaping it into a more modern narrative.

Then, inspired by the “Olive Trees” Van Gogh painting, another sister, illustrator Carol Layton Graham, creates a series of lovely paintings using Van Gogh’s colour palette in a delicate artistic representation of the story. 

And, in an elegant lettering style reminiscent of the shape of olives, branches, plants and twigs, the third sister, Joan Layton Merrell, creatively designs and colour-harmonizes with the book’s paintings, calligraphically-rendering the text in a slight gold gouache on Niddegen paper using EF 66 nibs for the text and Mitchel-Rexel nibs for the larger letters . 

The story about olive trees is intriguing.  Olive trees have a long history, not just in horticulture but also as parables and allegories in religious sacred texts where their symbolism is intended to illustrate a moral or spiritual lesson or reveal a hidden meaning.  In the fifth chapter of the Book of Mormon, the wild olive tree is representative of the people who turn away from the Holy One and ‘do their own thing.’  On the other hand, the tame olive tree is  representative of the people who give themselves to the Holy One for pruning and grafting.  One way leads to a tangled web of dying branches: an unproductive and unfulfilled life.  The other way leads to healthy branches that become productive and bear much fruit of the spirit … fruit of “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, thoughtfulness, gentleness, self-control.” (Galatians chapter 5). 

Offering a thoughtful and artistic way to consider Zenos’ ancient allegory in more contemporary language and presentation, “The Olive Tree: An Artistic Adaptation” invites readers to reflect on how they make decisions in their lives and how their lives ultimately will be regarded.

The connection the three sisters have with the Church of Latter-Day Saints and the Book of Mormon understandably focused on religious readership for the book.  However, this little book needs to be considered for a broader readership - anyone who appreciates and celebrates art in writing, calligraphy and/or painting.   Those who enter the pages of this book will  journey through a treasure trove of art and allegorical literature. 

Each of the sisters (Christine, Joan and Carol) found themselves ‘stretched to try something new‘ in the production of this book.   In doing so, they have created a gentle, creative and unique book whose message about life’s choices is universal.  May this be the first of many such collaboratively-produced universal-themed ‘artistic adaptations’ by the Layton sisters.