Find your favorite tree. There is one, whether you realize it or not. It may be on a trail where you regularly walk your dog, it may be in your neighbor’s front yard, or it may be in your own. The Morton Arboretum has plenty to choose from. If you need to, spend a day or two thinking about it while you go about your business, until you recognize which tree you keep coming back to. This tree may be a majestic oak, a stately pine, a smooth-trunked beech or even a delicate redbud. It doesn’t even matter if you know the species. Just for now, or possibly for always, it is your favorite tree.
Now, take a photo or draw a sketch (from the warmth of your car or home if you’d like). If safely possible, go up to the tree and feel the bark. If there are any leaves, fruits or nuts left on or around the tree, pick some up to examine. Take a dried leaf with you. Leave the fruits, nuts or seeds for the critters or the next generation of trees. If you’re not shy or if nobody is looking, go ahead and give the tree a quick hug, or maybe just a friendly pat. If you have children with you, encourage them to give the tree a great big hug. They won’t care whether anyone is watching or not.
Go back to your warm studio or kitchen table, pour yourself a hot drink and draw your tree using your memory, sketches or photos. For an additional challenge, try drawing in ink, which will force you to really concentrate on the size, shape and direction of the branches and twigs. The drawing doesn’t need to be a masterpiece, or even good. It is just a show of appreciation for your favorite tree.
Feel the stress melt away. Repeat as necessary.
Nature Artists’ Guild members can read a short article in their Quarterly by Evelyn Grala for more about drawing trees. Thanks for reminding us about the beauty of trees in winter, Evelyn!