Drawn to trees

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