Thursday, April 16, 2009

A Study in Stillness

An oak tree was on my mind when I returned home from a trip this past Monday, partly because it was struck by lightning several years ago. It still has the char marks and some loose bark as reminders. Several days earlier I had driven through pounding rain, lightning bolts that rivaled tree branches and high winds and hail that eventually spawned a tornado several miles to the south. Though it was still windy and overcast as I sat down to sketch, the dark clouds were breaking. Occasionally they let the afternoon sun cast a yellow glow over the tree. Home felt good, the oak solid, still, rooted. I was looking for something soothing to sketch, something still that wouldn’t hop or fly away. This tree seemed perfectly suited.

Its tangled branches challenged me. I easily lost beginnings and endings retracing my lines several times. The tree is so wonderfully massive that to get too close is to miss its glory; to get too far away is to lose sight of its exquisite detail.

I thrilled when a brown thrasher landed on one limb and grabbed my camera to view it better. I hopped up to take a closer look at the newly birthed oak leaves, softly frosted in pastel shades of pink and green and sketched them while standing. On the way back to my seat, I snapped photos of dogwood blossoms glistening as the clouds cleared the sun and added one to the sketch.
Smiling, I sat down again. An oak tree still? Maybe not. Sketching this oak felt more like dancing.

To see another fun visitor I had while sketching visit Vickie Henderson Art.


  1. Beautiful...I love the little oak leaves..I just took a photo of them today...they look like wedding bouquets with the bits that drape down.

  2. Your oak is truly mystical, Vickie. I can feel its calm stillness just looking at your sketch. Loved your description, too.

  3. Vickie, the Oak is my special tree, its strength, age and durability are sll characteristics I admire, your sketch portrays them all so well.
    I did some wild shooting in our muntain garden yesterday with the wonderful afternoon light streaming through the autumn leaves.
    Finally after 26 years, inspired by Ces and you , I put brush to paper agin and thoroughly enjoyed myself in our wild wood.

  4. The oak looks so majestic and yet serene. I love your sketches.

  5. Oh, I love the last line of your post, Vickie! It's a beautiful spread, but that sentence captures it so well...

  6. What did you do when the bird grabbed your camera, AND what in the world was it trying to see on the limb?! ;-) (Sorry, I couldn't resist. All in good fun.)

  7. Anonymous, not surprised...I read it that way several times. I changed it once, but didn't like the rhythm! Glad you're having fun!

  8. Such a lovely and sensitive painting! I enjoyed your post, too. Oaks are wonderful trees, I love the thought of them dancing!


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