Friday, April 24, 2015

A Love of Texture - Bark

Today is Arbor Day here in the US, time to go plant a tree and help the earth. Of course Arbor Day predates Earth Day or the era of renewed environmental consciousness, but they are each worth celebrating. Arbor Day, more than 125 years old, is celebrated individually in each state also, but today is the national holiday when those in most of the southern and central states can go out and plant trees. It's still a bit cold up here, so we'll wait for another month. 

Are you in a place where you can plant a tree today? It's a
great day to encourage more clean air and cool leaves
whispering in soft breezes. 

Today I'm celebrating by honoring one of the things I most love about trees - their bark. Textures are central to my artwork and having the ability to stroke, explore, and learn via touch helps me put textures into a variety of different art forms. So here we go - Arbor Day celebrated through texture. 

I'll start with bark I know very well - that of the oak tree. Just look
at this wonderful texture. Those deep runnels in the bark are the
highway for the insects who depend on the tree for their lives.
There's something so solid and dependable about an oak tree. 

Compare the oak with this birch. The birch appeals to the horizontal
in me. It's paper-thin bark can be peeled off (gently) like the layers
of an onion. It has a hidden, silver beauty and the bark has been used for
containers from canoes to baskets for centuries. A useful bark is birch. 

Here is the maple. It has similarities to the oak - running vertically with
a larger profile on each piece, but it's milder without the deep runnels
of the oak. The right species of maple can provide you with maple sugar
for the upcoming year. It's sugar season in the north where spring is just

There are many different types of palm tree bark, but I fell in love
with this wonderful photo by Richard Ditch. Palm bark is horizontal,
like the birch, but also has these really interesting, lenticular
shapes that are beautifully emphasized in this picture.
Palm trees have so many uses and species, I could probably do
an entire blog post just on them. I'll spare you the details today. 

It's hard to get a good photo of the bark of a redwood tree because they
are such massive trees. This pic isn't bad, though. See the deep runnels
vertically in the bark of the tree? On the right tree these can be deep
enough to insert your entire arm. Redwood trees are sentinels
of the forest and so very amazing. 

So there you have a small assortment of the varied textures and barks of trees. Have you hugged a tree lately? They do so much for us, let's try and do something for them in return. Happy Arbor Day to all and have a wonderful Friday. 

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