"When dawn spreads its paintbrush on the plain, spilling purple... ," Sons of the Pioneers theme for TV show "Wagon Train." Dawn on the mythic Santa Fe Trail, New Mexico, looking toward Raton from Cimarron. -- Clarkphoto. A curmudgeon artist's musings melding metaphors and journalism, for readers in more than 150 countries.

Monday, December 28, 2020

Tree wisdom and art

"Trees," 8 x 10 watercolor, 8 x 10 300 lb. d'Arches cold press paper

has beautifully named trees, 'rooted men.' In many ways they excel man. A tree seldom, or never encroaches upon the liberty of another tree, if it can be avoided. Usually 'both parties' settle equitably and without 'process.' A tree recognizes that its liberty ends where the next tree's liberty begins. a tree never wastes its growth in unnecessary cavortings of display, nor in frivolous waste of energy. If a tree is seen to twist and turn, it does so by reason of choice, tempered by necessity. These turns and twists are intimately connected or in rapport with, the turnings and twistings of some equally charitable neighbor. This it is that engenders that certain rhythm of flow of related lines in a wood." 

Those words, written 97 years ago in a chapter of painting trees Elementary Principles of Landscape Painting by John F. Carlson, are eerily of today's science, learning that trees talk to each other and support each other--see The Hidden Life of Trees, for instance.

He keeps going: "Every tree is a personality, and possesses within its specie a tremendous latitude of expression...A tree is a highlight of organized entity, which, when functioning in its realm, becomes beautiful."

"It is curious how one's feelings about trees change, in proportion to one's appreciation of their importance and dignity as living beings. We discover trees to be of royal blood, rather and apologetic parasites!" (Even Tolkien knew this, as in The Lord of the Rings.

Then he writes about trees in art:

"A tree reaches for light with its every leaf, ....."

"Trees are the most personal objects in a landscape. We feel distinctly related to them."

"To the artist, the woods is an asylum of peace; ...an eloquent silence made up of a myriad of pleasant sounds seems to hang on the air."

I read these words this weekend, after a walk in Hafer park, thinking  that's why I don't listen to music or anything else when walking in the woods.


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