Sunday, January 9, 2011

Douglas Firs in my garden...or rather, they *are* my garden

Nothing says country garden like a couple dozen 80-foot-tall douglas firs. I wrestled for a few years with how to paint trees that tall on a small canvas—before I gave up. I couldn't think of any way to capture how much I love them, how much I appreciate having this tiny piece of second-growth forest around my house, making the shade garden I've always wanted. Their two-feet-across trunks and feathery needles that animate in the tiniest breeze, the rough red and grey bark, the massive amounts of oxygen they pump out every night, the life-saving shade they give in the hot summers, and the immediate quieting of my mind and balancing of my spirit that happens when I go out and just stand there at the base of these huge, massive, multi-ton pillars of living energy.

Then I discovered the art of Emily Carr, and couldn't believe how perfectly she caught all of that and much more. I've looked through The Art Of Emily Carr dozens of times since then, and that finally came to a head for me last week and I tried a painting of the three trees close behind my house, from a photo I took the year I moved in. I know it doesn't look like an Emily Carr, but if Emily Carr had a bad dream and that bad dream came to my garden, IT could have painted this:

Three Firs                                         11x14
Acrylics on paper                                       

Well, anyway, with any luck they'll be there for many more years, and I'll have lots more time to keep painting them—now that I know it's theoretically possible to paint them.

I went outside half an hour ago to check my new-last-year Meadowlark forsythia for flower buds—nothing very big yet, but lots of tiny ones. I walked around to the south side just in time for the sun to come out and hit me smack in the face. I feel like we're halfway through the worst of winter—adding two minutes of daylight every day and coming that much closer to the gradual warm-up and everything starting to grow again. Ahhhhhhh. So good.


  1. Patricia I too have a yard filled with tall firs and I am also inspired by Emily Carr. This year I have three paintings of fir trees and all are quite different. I don't think yours are an Emily Carr nightmare at all. They are uniquely your fir trees inspired and created with your eye and brush strokes. Congratulations. Terrill

  2. Thank you for your kind comment,Terrill. I love your work on your blog. One of the challenges I always get hung up on with conifers is how to get both the vertical lines and the horizontals in a way that shows the rhythm of both. And that's what I keep thinking about Emily Carr's work,and what she said about the importance of rhythm. I like the way you got that in your, as you said, very different paintings. Thanks for sharing your work!