The Rhythm of the Trees is a series of black and white, India ink paintings. They were originally done for linoleum cut studies. But I liked them as they were, so I continued making them. This series deals with the rhythms in nature, especially in trees.
I think trees are the best sculptures in the world. I have often felt like I would like to have been able to sit in the middle of a tree and just enjoy the rhythms. With the paintings, I am also playing with the patterns.
When I’m working with the India ink on the watercolor board, the repetition of the pattern is important. The breaking up of the way space is made, as it goes back in different kinds of perspectives. We are also looking t these patterns as energy, almost like rhythms and vibrations.
Positive space and negative space are very important in these paintings. Black is the negative, white is positive. The materials I used for these paintings are my inking watercolor brush and pencil, on watercolor paper. While I used the black India ink for its density, the ink was also able to produce a variety of values, even if ever so slightly.
When I talk about rhythms and vibrations, we also include phyllotaxis. Phyllotaxis, a Greek word, is the order in which things grow in nature. This entire series of paintings celebrates the tree, the limbs. And, like human beings, the limbs kind of set the pose of the tree.
The Greeks used the Golden Mean, also known as the Golden Rule, for the icon paintings and in the original Coptic portraits in Egypt. These were ancient ways in which compositions in portraiture were structured. But in nature, I’m looking for the rhythm in the trees.
To put it another way, the order in which the limbs grow in a tree, and the direction they go in, is part of their phyllotaxis. We may have paintings that are based on the rhythm of the trees, the limbs of trees, and the limbs of humans. This was very important in the Mediterranean art world.
It is very similar in Japanese and Chinese, as well as other Asian arts, but done with a different emphasis. There are different perspectives between the Asian sense and the Western sense. In the Asian sense, things get larger as they go back. In the Western sense, things get smaller as they go back.
In the Asian sense, you can have a little person in a boat, and then have the big mountains, as seen in some Asian painted scroll art. But in Western art, it’s smaller as things go back. But, both Asian and Western art has a sense of the Golden Rule (or Golden Mean), and that’s the square. Finding the square inside the paper or the wood or the canvas. When that square is where the portrait goes, inside the Golden Mean.