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Celebrating Nature

Our art celebrates the beauty and complexity of wild nature. We hope our work will encourage the conservation of wild habitats. All of us are aware of the immeasurable value of plants in providing useful products—from food to furniture—but our art celebrates an aspect of nature that owes nothing to the industry of humanity. We don’t paint captive animals or garden plants. We are focused on the species in its natural habitat. Honoring the context that shaped each magnificent species is a kind of empathy. The more we learn about the natural history and ecology of each plant or animal the more connected we feel with it and the more likely we are to conserve it.

Another defining characteristic of our work is attention to details. The details are fascinating. Take the bark of a tree, for example. Trees grow from a layer just under the bark so they outgrow their bark every season. Therefore the bark must crack or shed to make room for the growing trunk. Birches solve this problem by peeling off the bark the way a snake sheds its skin; Sycamores and Jeffrey Pines shed their bark in jigsaw-like pieces; and Oaks develop cracks that deepen and widen as the tree ages. When we are painting trees we pay attention to these differences to help the viewer appreciate the particular tree as if it were a character in a novel. We hope that these details will help you appreciate these lovable characters.

Richard learned quite by accident that this kind of empathy with natural things is close to what the First Nations People call understanding their “spirit”. He learned this as the guest at a wedding where he happened to be seated next to a Micmac Shaman. The Micmacs are a first Nations People originally from an area that is now the Canadian Maritimes. When he found out that Richard painted trees they got into a lively conversation about the native flora. The Shaman told fascinating stories from the mythos of his people. Richard told the Shaman how much he enjoyed his beautiful stories, but honesty obligated Richard to say “I appreciate that your people have had a connection to the trees of this land many thousand times longer than my people have had, but with respect, the tree that I want to paint was here long before even your people arrived”. Richard was concerned that the Shaman might consider this statement insulting, but he looked at Richard with an expression of delight and recognition. He said, “That is exactly the idea of the spirit of the tree that we Micmac understand!”

Being in the presence of something wild can be an awesome experience. Most of us experience this awe when in the presence of large wild animals or dramatic flora like a giant sequoia or red maple in blazing fall color. We like painting such dramatic images, but we take a special pleasure in revealing the majesty of a species that may not be so dramatic, capturing the unremarkable at an ideal moment.

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