In 2007 I travelled to Palo Alto, where the trees grow tall.
Coming from South-Central Alaska, where most trees are short and we have limited species, I felt lucky to see the variety born of a warm climate.
Sketchbook in hand, I spied three towering pines, so close together they looked like one tree. How, I wondered, does anyone fit a tree that size onto a mere piece of paper? This is how my sketching obsession began.
First I drew the bottoms, then I drew the tops. I kept sketching, using different kinds of line, different drawing tools, trying to see the trees in their totality.
Six Tree Sketches, November, 2007
On the final drawing I managed to include the tops, the lowest branches and the trunks. Unfortunately, one of the trunks doesn’t have a tree attached to it!
November 2008, 2009, 2011
On later visits I surprised myself: using much smaller sketchbooks, I got the full trees onto the 4 x 6 pages. Thanks to the trees, my drawing skills were improving.
My connection to them deepened. In the dry heat of summer they looked thirsty. Then a new concrete parking garage rose up beside them. I worried that the heavy construction equipment was jostling their roots.
They were important to me. This was more than a sketching obsession, they were my muses.
As I returned year after year, I always checked in with them. This year I indulged my sketching obsession twice.
I confess that not a single one of these 11 drawings shows their true proportions. Every drawing is stubby by comparison. Clearly, if I am ever to do them justice, I have to keep trying.
Especially now that there’s this other tree . . .
Palm Tree, Palo Alto, November 2016
Being an artist has its joys and challenges, but, through it all, your support and encouragement sustain me. Thank you so much for being my audience.
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