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