Because I was playing about with my own images of trees yesterday, I was compelled to think about them leading me to consider some of the images that are more widely viewed as art. There has been a relationship between the creative artist and trees for as long as both have existed. Mainly because we rely on each other, as animals we breathe in the oxygen they expel, and symbiotically, they use the carbon dioxide we exhale. But the relationship is not simply giving and taking our life essence, as critical as that is to us, it is a sacred relationship, one of respect and honour, of love. Locally, our council is installing a brand new tram system, all shiny bells and trims; the unfortunate downside to this progressive transport amenity is the demise of many of our well loved trees in our community. I have been sad to see a tiny copse at the bottom of my dog walking route be ripped down, the beautiful trees that lined the boulevard into our small town has been removed from one side of the road, so there is no longer the symmetry of sycamores blazing a trail in front of our university. I have heard so many people be struck by the strength of feeling they have experienced, being witness to the new landscaping. What they had taken for granted, enjoyed on a daily basis has been removed from them, and it hurts. When I was a young woman bought my first house in one of the cheapest parts of town. Needless to say it wasn’t pretty. What I hated was the lack of trees and greenery, the constant reminder about the cycle of seasons, the progression of life. Life is grey and unremitting without the pleasures accorded to us by seeing and smelling and touching living stuff around us. Grass, and water and trees and plants. We need them, on a daily basis. What do artists do? They express their experience of being alive by communicating with us through the vehicle of their art. Within that expression we can learn more about how we think and feel about the world, about our place within it, how we feel about ourselves and our environments, what uplifts us, and what horrifies us. Trees seem to be a benign symbol too, offering us metaphorical images of the tree of life, which in itself may become worthy of a new blog!! For now, I want to share others’ views of trees with you. I hope you like the choices I have made, let me know what you would include. The picture at the beginning is a Monet, and I never see poplars without my thoughts turning to soldiers. Waiting soldiers.
The olive Trees was of course a Van Gogh. I love the way you can almost feel the air in this painting. And for me there is a sense of foreboding, perhaps brought to mind by the dead stump, and the counterplay of dark green with the violet.
Cezanne, a glorious study of trees living alongside the structures built by man. They aren’t hiding the house, but they do take centre stage.
This is by Egon Schiele, and even the trees he painted were youthful. Egon liked the fragility I think. These are staked, not yet able to support themselves. Maybe he felt like that too. Who doesn’t want the support of something to hold them up now and again?
More poplars,this time by the Seine. I think they are poplars, though that may be just in my mind. Once again, this makes me think of sentry duty, of waiting time, of an observance of time playing out.
This is a paper negative by an unknown artist, but I liked the grandness of the tree, how it gives shelter, and rest to the seated person. Big trees make me feel like this, protected, small, insignificant in the scheme of things. It is a comforting feeling, as though I am in the presence of wisdom and ancient protection.
Moonlit Tree painted by a Russian Jules Olitsky. Nothing scary about this moonlit night for me. I love the colours in the painting, how connected the tree seems to be to the night. It is solitary, and exposed but for me it expresses how essential it is to be alone sometimes. To be able to stand alone, in the dark and still feel comfortable. That is what this painting says to me.
This painted Japanese scene immortalises a view of life. There is flow in the river, and growth in the trees, colour and movement that expresses transitory joy. Lovely.
II like the scale of the trees in this hunting scene, and the naivite of the painting.
To finish up, because I could go on for ever, I have decided to leave you with this painting by Van Gogh of tree he was particularly fond of, The Mulberry Tree. It is a fascinating insight into his view of his world. It reminds me of the story in the bible of the burning bush, though I don’t know what significance that has since I don’t know the story well. I am outside of denominational religion, but in my childhood I went to Sunday School, and this must have had an impact! The tree Van Gogh paints is alive, almost ecstatically so. Wow!
This paining is at the Simon Norton Museum, here “www.nortonsimon.org,”