Copyright 2009 by Kathy Hughes
One of the first things I remember drawing was a tree. You know, the wonderful lollipop trees with the huge green circle for the leaves and branches, and a thick brown stick for the trunk, complete with a squirrel hole. And, of course, finished off with a sun with “fingers,” a blue strip for the sky and a green strip for the grass. That was how I saw the world, simple with basic shapes, forms, and colors.
As an adult (although those who know me will argue that with you) I see just how profound and what great messages that simple drawing brings. Even now I often find myself drawing or painting a tree in some form.
Nature scenes with trees have many symbolic qualities. “Deep rooted” meaning is in metaphors such as the Tree of Life, and our ancestry is depicted in the Family Tree. Trees are life nurturing. Wood is the primal material of the universe.
Specific trees carry a special meaning all of their own. The oak is considered the mightiest, symbolizing strength and courage. The Druids believed the leaves of the oak had the power to heal and renew strength. “From a tiny acorn a mighty oak grows.”
Many cultures have a World Tree in various forms that is considered to sustain life and to connect all of life to everything (all as one, each a part of the whole), to be the bridge between heaven and earth.
Trees provide food and oxygen, and their roots find nourishment hidden deep in mother earth. They provide shelter, shade, and protection. Trees are grounded and strong, yet bend in the wind and reach for the sky. Each branch and leaf is different, yet all are connected and gather life and strength from the central trunk and roots. It all works in harmony.
Take a chair outside with some paper and a pencil and draw a tree. REALLY look at it. You will find that when you are drawing, you almost seem to actually become part of the tree and of the drawing itself.
Analysis stops the process, so DO NOT JUDGE, just draw. Just let your eyes see the wonder of textures and intersecting branches, and feel joy in your pencil (or whatever your medium) dancing across the paper.
Here are a few more fun, symbolic messages associated with trees:
Apple - magic, beauty, happiness
Ash - higher awareness
Aspen - overcoming fears and doubts
Birch - new beginnings
Cedar - healing, cleansing, protection
Elm - strength of will
Hazel - wisdom
Maple- balance, promise
Palm - peace
Pine - creativity
Willow- magic, healing, inner vision
Trees are the pulse and heartbeat of the earth. Give yourself the amazing gift of joy and peace, and make friends with a tree. Honor it with your drawing. And, there is unconditional acceptance and love in the non-branches of a “lollipop tree!”
------------------------------------Kathy teaches non-judgmental art and creativity classes at the Kaleidoscope Art Studio in Rantoul on Tuesday mornings and at Hobby Lobby in Champaign on Thursday mornings. Sessions meet 10:00-11:30 and are $10 per class. Kathy has taught art in the public schools for over 15 years and is a member of the Creativity Coaching Association. For more information (and to read past Active Seniors articles) visit her website at http://room200.com, call her at 351-1680, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.