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Tree Portraits

Always alluring, sometimes soothing, and occasionally foreboding, trees come in many personalities.

The portrayals of trees in "The Wizard of Oz" and "Lord of the Rings", always creeped me out. But I agree on one thing: trees are anthropomorphic.

Like human beings, some trees wear beautiful clothes and adornments. "Four Seasons", below, shows the seasons of a cinnamon crepe myrtle and its inhabitants in a 48" circle. Click the image for a larger version.

The complicated and mysterious tree in "Time for Reflection" is painted on mirror so the tree reflects whatever faces it (in this case, me with my camera).

Perhaps you know someone like that.

Flirtatious and a little sassy, the trees in "Crisp" wave goodbye to summer and beckon autumn like a sextet of Sirens.

Same tree, 3 seasons

Trees can be moody. I discovered a marketing secret the hard way: the mood of a tree portrait affects whether it sells or not. On the left, the Battlefield Oak in Yorktown was painted during the chill of winter in 2006, with its imposing bare limbs cutting up the sky. A year later I turned winter into fall by adding golden leaves. Two years after that, fall became spring, and with the addition of cedar waxwings, the painting (and it's cheerful mood) sold quickly.

Because of a couple of experiences like that, I concluded that people don't like bare trees. Then came this exception of the unadorned tree below, "Elephant Dance". Perhaps the buyer also saw the happy elephant in the tree.

The grande dame of trees is the Compton Oak in Colonial Williamsburg's Market Square. This early morning interpretation of the magnificent tree was used for the poster for An Occasion for the Arts a few years ago.

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