|"Early Snow - Ponderosa Pine"|
reduction linocut, 18 x 12 inches
For me the most important part of an image can be the story behind it. My work is frequently inspired by experiences I've had while hiking or camping or just hanging out along the river. I like to imagine the "whys" of observed animal behavior, or the "what happened here" of a newly-fallen tree or other anomaly on my regular walk.
But this particular linocut started with an idea and became a quest to create some larger images of iconic western trees. "Early Snow - Ponderosa Pine" was the fourth in the tree portrait series.
The funny thing about these tree portraits is the length of time it can take to find "the" representative tree for each one. Take this one, for example. I had in mind an image of the quintessential ponderosa pine: solitary, tall, and graceful with an arched crown. Such trees are everywhere, right?
HA! Not once you start looking for them. Our forests are full of ponderosa pines, but until I started looking for the "perfect" tree I didn't realize how few of them fit my stereotype. Many of our local pondos don't have the arched crown, or their crowns are broken, or they are part of a dense group and the character of the individual tree is hard to discern.
Worse yet, the "best" trees were often frustratingly out of range for me in my little, not-particularly-practical-for-mountain-living car.
The Quest for the Perfect Trees expanded to include a couple of friends, one of whom kept his eye out for weeks and then sportingly took me on a couple of four-wheel-drive expeditions to visit potential candidates. I am sure I heard triumphant music when this particular tree emerged from the gray of a light snowfall and seemed to say "you looking for me?"