My favorite trees are ones that have been around for so long that they tower above the ground with branches that resemble an incredible natural cathedral. Being around a tree like this simply calms my nervous system. Last year, I did a drawing of a huge elm tree that lives on Wesleyan University’s campus. I documented the drawing in progress with animation software. My dear friend, Michael Pestel, then provided musical improvisations that I organized into a soundtrack. I am happy to be sharing the results with the rest of the world now, and I hope it gives viewers a portal into my process, and maybe a moment of peace. Having long felt that trees are my church, I recently heard this passage while listening to the great spiritual teacher Thich Nhat Hanh, and I had to transcribe it. Since it illustrates the essence of my motivation to draw trees, I thought I would include it here.
From “The Art of Mindful Living” dharma talk
Thich Nhat Hanh
Look at a tree, it is a wonderful thing, a tree. A Tree is very beautiful. A tree to me is as beautiful as a cathedral, even more beautiful. I look into the tree and I saw the whole cosmos in it. I see the sunshine in a tree. Can you see the sunshine in a tree? Yes, because without the sunshine no tree can grow. I see a cloud in a tree. Can you see, without a cloud there can be no rain, no tree. I see the earth in the tree, I see everything in the tree. So the tree is where everything in the cosmos comes into, and the cosmos reveals itself to me through a tree. Therefore, a tree to me is a cathedral. And I can take refuge in the tree, and I can get nourished by the tree. The tree belongs to the kingdom of God, the tree belongs to the Pure Land, and I can get in touch with the present moment. Because the tree can only be found in the present moment.