Our big teaching series for the Fall, and the topic was all in the title. What could convey something or some one that was thriving under difficult circumstances? As I started brainstorming this one, I sketched out three ideas. The first was the most obvious - a piece of coal that turns into a diamond under extreme pressures. The second, a granual of sand inside an oyster that turns into a pearl as it agitates the oyster. And third, a quarterback driving his team down the field with two minutes left in the game.
As I went down these paths, none of them felt quite right. There was pressure and there was survival, but none of them gave a sense of thriving. Inspiration came when my wife and I went out to northern California for a friend's wedding. We were on a hike along the Pacific Coast Highway, and I was struck by these lone cypress trees that grew straight off the side of the cliffs that overlooked the Pacific. Here these trees were, growing and thriving out amidst the rocky terrain and in the face of the salt and wind coming from the ocean.
When we came back to Virginia, I started sketching out the ideas below, which became the central motif for the entire series.
The title lettering, cliff and tree were drawn in Illustrator then brought into Photoshop for detail work. I used a few patterns to fill out the sky and ocean. Posters and postcards were produced as promotional pieces to advertise the series. 
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