Trees are Poems

July 22, 2016

“Trees are poems that earth writes upon the sky.” — Walt Whitman, 1892

The Lawrence Tree by Georgia O'Keeffe, 1929

The Lawrence Tree by Georgia O’Keeffe, 1929

Trees are such miracles of nature.  Their diversity simply astounds.  I am looking forward to making more paintings of trees in the coming years.  I am inspired by this painting by Georgia O’Keeffe, one of my all-time favorites.  You can make a quick acquaintance with this O’Keeffe painting at this link: http://smarthistory.khanacademy.org/okeeffes-the-lawrence-tree.html

There are many lovely books about trees, and here are two incredible ones:

Ancient Trees: Portraits of Time by Beth Moon.  I love her photographs of old and noteworthy trees.

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Quiver Tree from Ancient Trees: Portraits of Time by Beth Moon

Quiver Tree from Ancient Trees: Portraits of Time by Beth Moon

Double page spread from Anciet Trees: Portraits of Time

Double page spread from Ancient Trees: Portraits of Time

Strange Trees by Bernadette Pourquie and Cecile Gambini.  This is an English edition of an award-winning picture book from France.  The art and text tell the stories of 16 truly unusual trees from around the world.  My favorite is the “Dynamite tree” from Trinidad, whose seed capsules explode with a sudden bang.

Strange Trees picture book

Strange Trees picture book

Baobab tree from Strange Trees

Baobab tree from Strange Trees

I was familiar with only three of the featured trees:  the giant sequoia, the ginkgo, and the baobab.  I had seen a baobab grove in Botswana, and was interested to hear it called the “upside-down tree” because it looks like it has its roots on its head!  Like many trees adapted to dry environments, the bulbous baobab can store water in its trunk. The author calls it a “potbellied giant.”

Baobab grove, Botswana, 2007

Baobab grove, Botswana, 2007

Watercolor sketch of baobab trees

Watercolor sketch of baobab trees

Touched by Trees

June 15, 2015

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Trees
by W. S. Merwin

I am looking at trees
they may be one of the things I will miss
most from the earth
though many of the ones I have seen
already I cannot remember
and though I seldom embrace the ones I see
and have never been able to speak
with one
I listen to them tenderly
their names have never touched them
they have stood round my sleep
and when it was forbidden to climb them
they have carried me in their branches.

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"Lawrence Tree" painting by Georgia O'Keeffe

“Lawrence Tree” painting by Georgia O’Keeffe

Here are some beautiful books about trees:

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I think Overleaf is a particularly creative compilation of leaf paintings — pairs of individually rendered leaves, front view and back view.

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