Saturday, February 25, 2012

Speaking of Trees...

Hickory Ridge Oak-one of my favorite trees
...which I often am; I wanted to let you know about a wonderful book. It was introduced to me by a participant in my Experimenting with Watercolor and Pastel class at the Lexington Art Academy, which affirms once again the notion that teachers learn as much as their students in class.  Deborah brought in a book simply titled: Oak.  The subtitle is: One Tree, Three Years, Fifty Paintings. Artist Stephen Taylor found himself lost after losing both parents and an important love. He was not sure where to turn next in his life and work when some friends invited him to paint at their farm in Essex where he discovered his oak. As the subtitle suggests, Taylor spent three years studying and painting the tree in all kinds of weather, day and night (there are some wonderful night time paintings.) He found his way again simply by observing closely a single spot on earth.

        This rings true for me. Trees physically link heaven and earth with their tall stature. This is true in paintings as well as life. They also link us with eternity as they often live to be hundreds of years old. Stephen Taylor's tree, for example, "was already home to skylarks and starlings when Jane Austen was a baby and George III the ruler of the American colonies" (from the foreword by Alain de Botton.)  The chinquapin oak at Floracliff is thought to be over 400 years old. So in a time of rapid change and loss, trees can be of great comfort. They are naturally beautiful and provide shade and shelter as well as paper and wood.  I highly recommend this book:  Oak: One Tree, Three Years, Fifty Paintings, by Stephen Taylor, Princeton Architectural Press, New York, New York, 2012. Thanks, Deborah!

   p.s. There are two Experimenting with Watercolor & Pastel classes coming up at the Lexington Art Academy.  Please go to: for more information and registration.

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