I was a graphic designer once and love typography, layout, and design. So I began to play around with what this project could potentially look like. As a former newspaper art director, I have a vision for the final product and this has informed the way I produce these works. In some ways, they are more like illustrations than paintings because the subtle nuances are discovered when viewed closely in that span from eyes to printed page. Visual interpretation of my impressions of the scripture text and the closeup version of the works will hopefully allow the reader to slow down and meditatively reflect.
I have the privilege of showing 32 of the Trees of the Book project at the RZIM Centre in the CBC Building on Front Street in Toronto. The show will run until the beginning of March. 250 Front Street W, Unit 101, Toronto, Ontario (9:00 am to 5:00 pm).
SCRIPTURE TREE PROJECT
Since many of us live or work primarily in cities, we forget that trees once served a more significant role in our existence. From scripture we learn that God used trees to provide his people with shelter, protection, and food, as well as resources for energy, weaponry, construction, and medicine.
We still rely on trees. Trees supply food, mark seasons, clean the air, provide oxygen, cool streets and cities, shield us from ultraviolet rays, conserve energy, save water, and help prevent water pollution and soil erosion. Studies have even showed that the presence of trees can reduce violence. Trees are such powerful visual images of growth, decay, and resurrection that hardly any culture has not endowed them with symbolism and otherworldly influence.
I have found 116 references to trees in the Old and New Testaments, and I was intrigued and challenged to look at them metaphorically, illustratively, and tangibly. I have also looked for references to bushes, shrubs, or branches that were critical to telling God’s story, such as Moses and the burning bush, the dove bringing back a branch to Noah, and the stump of Jesse.
Using these tree verses to retell the story of salvation, these paintings seek to encourage prayerful reflection and response to God’s story. The paintings here are a selection from a larger work which I aim to publish as a contemplative book about trees in scripture. The book will include 52 visual interpretations of tree verses with written responses to each from writers, theologians, clergy, scientists, activists and educators.
This has been an inspirational spiritual journey for me and I hope that it will enrich others also.
All works are produced on wood panels using watercolour, ink, graphite, and ultraviolet varnish and framed with up-cycled wood.
I’m currently working on a project that I began last year. Its called Trees in scripture: A visual and text narrative. The seed for this project was germinated in a conversion with my friend Beth who suggested that I consider all the tree references in scripture as a body of work. There are many references to trees in scripture and I was intrigued and challenged to look at them metaphorically and illustratively.
In one translation of the Bible I came across 105 references to trees in the Old Testament and 11 in the New Testament. This did not include bushes, shrubs, or branches, which in some cases will need to be included in the project. For example, Moses and the burning bush, the dove bringing back a branch to Noah, and the stump of Jesse.
Using contemporary, visual language as a way to tell the story of salvation through the references of trees in scripture, this meditative narrative seeks to encourage a prayerful reflection and response to God’s story. I hope that it will also allow readers to see anew the many miracles of nature and the metaphoric beauty of trees in this world.
I have decided to produce 52 images and my goal is to have this work published as a meditative devotional book that uses both text and image. The images are my visual interpretations and I hope to elicit creative responses from a distinguished group of writers, scholars, clergy, and other professionals n order to produce an excellent, relevant, and meaningful book.
My process consists of reflection of the text, a thumbnail sketch, and a watercolour rough. For consistency I've limited myself to 8 different sized- panels which will be repeated accordingly. In order to design the work and accurately re-produce the sketches, I've made small templates that correspond to the actual size.
Drawing allows us to see through fresh eyes, gaining a new perspective; it engages us by offering more than one way to look at the world. Through short readings from John Berger, discussion, and instruction on drawing, this contemporary drawing course teaches the basics of drawing by challenging students to slow down in order to see.
I'm really excited about the opportunity to teach this class which builds on my research. I'll be using the writings of John Berger who died earlier this year. https://www.theguardian.com/books/2017/jan/02/john-berger-obituary
This is an introductory course but students will work at their own pace so anyone with drawing experience is welcome. Using both conventional and contemporary methods of exploring drawing, students will learn drawing techniques and composition.
Sundays: March 19, 26, April 2, 9, 23, 30
1:30 pm to 4:00 pm
AGH Members: $110 | Non-Members: $135
Materials: Good quality sketchbook (a size you're comfortable with), 3 large pads (18 x24") of drawing paper in bond, newsprint, and brown craft, set of pencils, Conté sticks, and charcoal.
To register follow the links: http://www.artgalleryofhamilton.com/wo_agh_adults.php
From 2011 - 2013 I conducted an arts-based research project where my purpose was to investigate how older women develop their skills as visual artists through the medium of drawing in a small group setting. The social construction of artist identities among the group and my teaching of drawing formed the basis of my study in this informal, community-based learning environment. I assessed how learning new creative skills later in life affects the quality of an individual’s sense of self and their perceived value and contribution in relation to society, and how apprehension about learning a new skill touches others in the group. My interest extended to investigating how the skill of drawing influences other areas of life like aesthetic awareness and to the role of digital media in rendering the research. Arts based research as a method of inquiry allowed the use of alternative representation of results and findings.
The following short video describes visually how the research came together https://vimeo.com/74288717.
When thinking about sustainability and sustainable development, trees serve as an obvious and necessary participant as our natural breathing partner. Trees clean the air, provide oxygen, mark the seasons, cool streets and cities, conserve energy, save water, help prevent water pollution, and soil erosion. It has also been shown that they can shield us from ultra-violet rays, provide food, heal, reduce violence, create economic opportunities, provide human retreats, bring people together, provide habitat for wildlife, block unpleasant things, provide wood, increase property values, and increase business traffic (Lipkis, 2014).
Trees do many things for us. Quite simply though: trees grow tall and big when conditions are favourable and do not when conditions are unfavourable (Tudge, 2005). Trees remind me of our human journey through life and in a recent body of work Ihave been inspired by the vast array of trees that grace the streets and lanes in my Notre-Dame-de-Grâce (Montreal) neighborhood. Biologists describe primary growth in trees as linear (height) and secondary growth as a response to the environment (diameter). Secondary growth profoundly describes how trees plainly assume its circumstances into itself (Peters, 2014). As the symbolic and imaginary trees with their gnarled knots and broken limbs manage to propagate and root themselves into my work, Iimage them as aging bodies, with fragile bones, and wrinkly, sagging flesh. Trees tend to grow stronger as they age and as they reach their tender shoots to the sky, their roots are nourished. Is it possible to think of our minds in this way? Our flesh and bones may deteriorate but our minds continue to reach out and seek knowledge.
Lipkis, A. (2014). Top twenty-two benefits of trees. Retrieved October 7, 2014, from TreePeople: http://www.treepeople.org
Peters, N. (2014). Slow growth. Kinfolk , 10, p. 13.
Tudge, C. (2005). The secret life of trees: How they live and why they matter. London, UK: Penguin Books.
Before I begin painting I go through a process which involves walking urban spaces and observing trees, photographing, and sketching ideas. Below are some examples of