Many times I am asked why do I put people in my trees? How did I start doing that? Why do I personify trees? The beginning…when I was an undergraduate art student at the University of Cincinnati many, many moons ago, I took a course in Printmaking in which I studied Lithography. How it was done then was to grind two limestones together to make them smooth and prepare them for drawing onto their surface with a Lithocrayon. A Lithocrayon (to describe it as best as I can) is sort of a charcoal pencil that is waxy. When drawing on the limestone, it has to be in mirror image as when you pull the print it will be in reverse. The drawing had to have lines but could not have defined edges as there was no way I could accomplish that with the crayon. I started drawing trees. I made the trees tall, without leaves, and but with claw-like roots. Interesting for an eighteen year old to do I guess, as everyone liked them.
Upon seeing one of my prints of the trees, one of my classmates asked me if I had read Tolkein’s “Hobbit” and I told him that I hadn’t. The next day he brought me in the book to read. This started me making all the creatures from the book in ceramics—lifesize. I had Gollum, Bilbo, Gandolf, the Head of Smog and of course, the Ents. The book so inspired me that I wanted to run off and live in a forest of life.
Compound this with my also taking a Life Drawing class. I will always remember my Professor telling me that I drew disjointed figures, and should change my major from Fashion Design as I would NEVER make it. Well, I changed my major but not because of what he said but because it was a five year glorified sewing course and just was not for me. I took him up on the challenge to be able to draw figures in my own way and be successful at it. I would love to see him now and tell him what he started!
Shown here is my favorite Personified Tree entitled Lovers #3 – Sweet Surrender. I really do not think anyone is looking that closely at any disjointment! The painting says what I want it to, and has the effect I am after.