Trees in scripture: A visual and text narrative

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. 

Exodus 10:15 14-15 The locusts covered the country of Egypt, settling over every square inch of Egypt; the place was thick with locusts. There never was an invasion of locusts like it in the past, and never will be again. The ground was completely covered, black with locusts. They ate everything, every blade of grass, every piece of fruit, anything that the hail didn’t get. Nothing left but bare trees and bare fields—not a sign of green in the whole land of Egypt. (The Message)

Exodus 10:15 14-15 The locusts covered the country of Egypt, settling over every square inch of Egypt; the place was thick with locusts. There never was an invasion of locusts like it in the past, and never will be again. The ground was completely covered, black with locusts. They ate everything, every blade of grass, every piece of fruit, anything that the hail didn’t get. Nothing left but bare trees and bare fields—not a sign of green in the whole land of Egypt. (The Message)


I've created a wall map to organize the images and to mark the progress of the project.

I've created a wall map to organize the images and to mark the progress of the project.

100% Fig leaves , 2017 water-based media on wood panel

100% Fig leaves, 2017 water-based media on wood panel

August 16-2

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.


Space for drawing: Women, art, love, and fear

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. 

Lessons and research were documented in sketchbooks

Lessons and research were documented in sketchbooks

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.

References:

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