Elm Tree Animation

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.

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