For the past few years I have been building an ongoing collection of tree images

found on my regular hiking excursions into the San Gabriel Mountains. The trees on

this range are rugged and show off the weathering they endure in an extreme

environment. Each tree is unique and has it’s own individual character, and seen

together, the trees represent a diversity that is not unlike the diversity of members

within a family or individuals within a community. Bonsai gardeners have trees

such as these in mind when they cultivate their miniaturized versions that mimic

older, more natural trees. The “theatricality” of Bonsai has always intrigued me –

it’s as if the tree is an actor on the stage, acting out the drama of a “real” tree. But of

course, the Bonsai is in reality, a tree. I find this crossover between what is natural

and what is designed to be at the core of my work.

I always begin with a “head shot”, a detailed rendering of the tree in gouache that I

can later use as a reference for more “staged” compositions that involve multiple

trees (directed into a “tree drama”, as it were). These paintings take on a narrative

quality, mirroring back both the tension and sense of connection that we might find

in our own lives – within our families and other social relationships. I give titles to

the paintings that suggest a variety of complicated exchanges between the players in

these dramas. Are they stuck in the roles that they were assigned in their formative

years, grounded in place and unable to change – or can they transcend these

definitions and grow in their own direction, through self-determination. This same

question could be asked to ourselves.