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The Tree as Beautiful Machine

Wed May 2, 2012, 7:17 PM by techgnotic:icontechgnotic:
Img-tree-beautiful-machine by techgnotic

While searching DeviantArt for images for the Earth Day article, I became intrigued with how trees have become not only such a central focus of our current environmental concerns, but also how they play such a central role in our art, whether as background or actual subject matter. There are so many Enchanted Forests on DeviantArt that it made me wonder if trees, so mundane and taken for granted yet at the same time so vital to life on earth and so steeped in myth, have always been the revered subjects of the world’s artists.

There was one especially intriguing piece of information that I came across during my research of the Earth Day article that seemed the perfect way to feature some of the beautiful artwork depicting trees and forests on DeviantArt. Even though most of us know the opening of Alfred Joyce Kilmer’s poem;

“I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree...”
The tree went through a rough patch as being unsuitable as art subject for a period of nearly a thousand years, at least in Europe. This was the Medieval period from roughly 500 to 1450 A.D. The Church controlled artistic expression almost absolutely during that time and anything to do with nature or the woods was too closely linked with the “old religion” that Christianity had just superseded, Paganism, and Pagan animism (the idea of spirits being in all things, including trees) to be allowed to be fulsomely depicted in art. So it was mostly portraits of saints and kings and lots stained glass windows until Giotto kicked off the Renaissance by being rebel enough to put trees as natural backgrounds in his paintings in the 1300s.

A near-thousand year ban?

What is it so dangerous about trees that they could be suppressed for so long as art images to dream on? I suppose that climbing a tree as a kid might be our first great “victory” over the challenge and dangers of wildest nature. And the dark forests of fairy tales are well populated with evil beings and creatures intent on harming wandering children. So there’s always been that primal fear ingrained in us from birth to know the woods can be a “bad” place. But early humans lived and survived in the wild, so they embraced the trees and all the components of nature as the stuff of their religion and their art, making the forests as magical and spiritual as they were potentially lethal. It was only when humans built the cities and began razing the forests that trees became mere raw material to be exploited and the woods became less Pagan “Natural Cathedrals” and more scary backdrops to monster movies like “Dracula”.

Now it seems we’ve finally course corrected on trees and forests both out of practical concerns (our desire to survive) and our current cultural predilections (our insatiable spiritual explorations and the prevalence of fantasy in our entertainment). So whether it’s because we’ve finally acknowledged that the Earth’s forests and jungles are our planet’s “lungs” (and that there are secrets in the bark of the Amazon’s trees that might cure every disease), or if it’s because we need enchanted forests for the faeries and elves and witches of our favorite stories to inhabit, the tree has reestablished its rightful place as both necessary instrument of survival and emblematic icon of our artistic imagination.

Trees give us oxygen so we can breathe. But they also provide a sense of mystery and timelessness so we can ponder and draw and dream.


For the Reader

1As an artist, writer or photographer, do you think of trees as mostly background or backdrop to your art? Or have you actually used trees as a central subject?

2What’s your favorite work of fiction or movie that really made use of the forest as an actual “character” in the story?

3Do you find “subject-less” landscape photography or paintings generally boring or often compelling? Or does it all depend on the artist’s lens or brush?

4Can you remember a specific tree that played an important part in your own life? Or maybe that still does?

5Is a backyard without at least one tree really a “backyard” (i.e., a theater of childhood dreams of adventure) or just a soulless kid & pet pen?

While searching deviantART for images for the Earth Day article, I became intrigued with how trees have become not only such a central focus of our current environmental concerns, but also how they play such a central role in our art, whether as background or actual subject matter. There are so many Enchanted Forests on deviantART that it made me wonder if trees, so mundane and taken for granted yet at the same time so vital to life on earth and so steeped in myth, have always been the revered subjects of the world’s artists.
Add a Comment:
TomasGrizzly Featured By Owner Apr 23, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
1. Photographer PoV (though hobbyist, not artist): While they are mostly background, I have some photos (not uploaded yet) with a tree (or group of them) as central subject. Willow and Larch trees have some charm early in april when the fresh leaves start to grow. And while not single tree as centerpiece, the puzzle of various colors a forest becomes in fall has it's charm as well.
2. The only I can think of is Avatar and the Tree of souls. Not sure Nordrassil in Warcraft could be considered a character as much.
3. I'd say it depends on the skill of artist as well as personality of those who see it. I, as someone who likes to visit nature a lot, think that they have its place. If you want to point out some place that looks nice by itself, adding something for sake of having subject might actually make it worse.
4. Really important? Probably not.
5. Can't really say as I live in flat. Even though my grandparents have a garden, never thought about estetic aspect of it, more as source of delicious fruits and vegetables.
Mavelle-Ealenyr Featured By Owner Apr 22, 2015  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
1. Unfortunately not much as I would like to. In my gallery I have only a couple of trees as a background in:
 Mavelle - Feathertouch by Mavelle-Ealenyr  and Something I can never have by Mavelle-Ealenyr , although the last one is almost a subject itself, given the story. Pursuing the theme of forest or tree spirit is something that I have been trying yes, but not with satisfactory results yet, at least good enough for me to upload.

2. Definitely Narnia. The trees were alive, and even though they never were a major character individually, the forests are a collective character, especially in the books, many times used in relation with magic, Aslan's magic, the magic of creation. What comes to mind when thinking about trees is Narnia's creation and the tree with golden apples in The Magician's Nephew and Lucy desperately trying to make trees talk again in Prince Caspian.

3. It all depends I guess, although I admit that I'm a bit biased towards a subject, even in a landscape, I like to see a focus somewhere, be it a tree, a mountain, something that doesn't make the landscape seem just.... plain.

4. Several in different aspects. For starters my real surname is the Chestnut tree and my partners is the Oak tree, so that will be something that will always make a part of our life. Portugal has a long tradition of surnames related to trees. As for real trees in my life, the first that comes to mind will be the Wisteria, although mostly a trailing bush. It's beautiful purple flowers have marked my childhood as I would go under a tunnel of them in my first school, daily.  Nowadays the ones that will mark me are the Quince tree's, an old cousin to the japonic sakura, that are just lovely. Recently I moved to a new house and there is a school with a line of those planted and I had the joy of filming a petal hurricane in one of the most windy days, just like you see in animes.

5. It's a bit sad to me to see how many people don't really realize that having a backyard at all is a luxury in some countries. More and more, especially due to economical retrains, people are living in flats and don't have their own little green space to take care of.  I lived in a flat for 29 years of my life and it was only after moving to another country that I had a backyard of my own. So my perspective of the backyard right now is not seen from a child's point of view, but from a gardener's one. I value a tree in my garden, not because of the value of a playground (as a mother I would be scared of my kid climbing trees) but as a safe haven for wild birds. The tree in my garden was the house for a family of blackbirds while their younglings were still learning how to fly, it's their hideout when they check my garden for food. Just today I hanged two more suet treats for the wild birds that keep coming there. I still wouldn't mind a backyard without a tree. I recognize the value of having a piece of land to take care off. It's not something that I take for granted, and because of that, because I lived so long without having one, it has become a major factor when I look for a house. 
SculptedCreations Featured By Owner Apr 21, 2015  Professional Artisan Crafter
"There is a sense in the tree which feels your love and responds to it. It does not respond or show its pleasure in our way or in any way we can now understand." ~Prentice Mulford.

1. I've photographed trees lots of times; nature subjects are so fun to photograph I think. As far as drawing one, I usually don't make them the main focus. I'm more interested in people or creatures right now.
2. The only one I can think of right now is Lord of the Rings, and the Ents. I love the idea of the Ents and how they behave, and the forest they live in as well, when it took up root to engulf the orcs that had been destroying it maliciously for so long.
3. I love landscape pictures, and usually my favorites are either real photos or realistic paintings.
4. A specific tree? Hmm..... There was an old apple tree in my back yard that fell over in a storm, but before they it was the gateway, so to say, of my sister, cousin, and mine's "apple tree fort". Not really an apple tree fort since the apple tree just marked the entryway, but the "fort" was made up of several trees that we would climb on and play on. That's probably the most significant tree I can think of. =)
5. Hm, I don't really know. I grew up with my backyard full of trees and on the edge of a tree farm, so I've been surrounded by trees and nature my whole life so far. My backyard is big and huge and wonderful, but that doesn't mean that a child's backyard with no trees is any less wonderful. Some of my family grew up in Arizona with the deserty ground as their backyard, but I hear they had a lot of fun there. =)
Lawlietlittle Featured By Owner Apr 21, 2015  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
1.- I actually use trees as a central pieces of my drawinsg, but long time ago it was just in backgrounds
2.- LOTR
3.- I think that all depends of your way of see life and nature, for me land scape is gorgeous
4.- Of course I do, the most important tree in my life is called Michell, and is cause the most important person to me now is a tree C:
5.- A backyard without a tree is just pointless, a house without a tree or some kind of nature or green on it is just pointless
y2jenn Featured By Owner Apr 21, 2015   General Artist
Trees are some of my favorite things, right after dinos, space and castles. They've been subject of and part of the background in so much of my art. I have specific favorite individual trees out there in the world, and more than one of my characters has a name inspired by them. Lovely article!
Ellyhrianna Featured By Owner Apr 21, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
1. Trees rock, i almost exclusively draw plants and trees are the center piece
2. Fangorn in The Lord of the Rings. I dare you to find something better. Even Groot in Guardian of the Galaxy just can't match
3. It depends. Completly subject-less pictures are a drag, but really, which landscape is like that? To make a picture you need the the motivation to take it (or draw it) and without subject - why would you? Even if a picture looks at first sight subject-less most often it has one, you just have to find it.
4. A pine tree in the forest near my childhood home. It sheltered me in a storm and later on I spent hours beneath its boughs.
5. A backyard without a tree, oh I don't know, I've grown up surrounded by trees. Maybe if it had a lot of scrubs and high gras. I think a backjard needs a personality if it has no trees
ewm Featured By Owner Apr 20, 2015  Hobbyist Photographer
Wonderful collection of art!

1. I absolutely love threes everything about them well except for the pollen that can be a bit frustrating. Sometimes trees are merely a background but sometimes definitely at the forefront. Our deck overlooks a lot of gorgeous evergreens and a few large maples that are covered in moss. The lush greens of the evergreens and other plants that stay green over the winter in the Pacific Northwest.

3. Subject-less landscapes can get a bit dull but if shot with a camera or painted properly they can be quite wonderful.

4. In my mom's yard we had a Mulberry tree that I looked forward to it's berries every year. They ripened around my birthday. Unfortunately a major storm blew through and knocked it over. It still hurts thinking about it to this day. I hope to someday collect some of the wood to make some spindles out of for spinning yarn. Something that I can remember it by. Last time I visited a small mulberry sapling is growing in its place which makes me happy to see.

5. A yard without trees or other variety besides grass is truly boring and terrible for the environment. Having a natural environment is so much more fun and beneficial over all. I'd much rather see a yard full of beautiful trees and more clover over grass that the bees can enjoy. :)
xandraclay Featured By Owner Apr 20, 2015  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
ellenherbert Featured By Owner Apr 20, 2015
More stunning images of trees here: trees-with-character.deviantar… :)
LittleHayseed Featured By Owner Apr 20, 2015  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
I live in the woods, and trees have always been a big part of my life. Some of my dearest childhood memories have been playing in the woods and climbing trees. I went on searches to find new trees to climb. When I was little I would talk to trees, and they were my friends before I had any 'real' friends. Is there a specific tree? No, but there are a few. 
A backyard without a tree... The idea of living in such a place appalls me, but that's probably because, again, I've always lived out in the woods in the middle of nowhere. There doesn't necessarily have to be a tree in a backyard for it to be a place for children to play and spend their time in, although I believe trees help the imagination a LOT. 
icefrosty Featured By Owner Mar 16, 2015  Hobbyist Writer
wow :D
AbbyMeyer Featured By Owner Sep 26, 2013
1. I mentioned a tree in a short story I posted, but I've never used one as a main focus. Maybe some time in the future.
2. Technically they're not trees, but I love the Ents in LOTR and how they are so connected with their surroundings. They feel the pain of the trees that have been cut down.
3. That depends on the skill of the photographer, but I definitely think that landscape photos can be compelling if they are done right.
4. No, there's not any particular tree that stands out. I used to love running through the dense 'woodland area' in my lower school's grounds, though (even if that was forbidden :D)
5. I don't think there has to be a tree for it to be special. When you are young, anything can be the inspiration for an adventure. :)
okamifuyu Featured By Owner Oct 14, 2012
3. I tend to really enjoy Landscape pictures and paintings, so long as i find them well done and the colours to be harmonize, but a walk in a forest both at night and in the day can be a very calming and beautiful experience.
4. well i remember the combinations of a tree and some stones to have had an important role in my life. Some big rocks in my grandparents garden, that my siblings and I played around on, were always standing close to an old tree, and seeing the tree cut down, because it was covering up the stones, really surprised me and made me somewhat sad
tmpst24myst Featured By Owner Aug 17, 2012  Student Writer
I've always enjoyed trees, as a child for various things such as climbing or tying a rope from branch to branch to prove to the boys in the neighborhood that a girl could play Tarzan better than a boy could :lmao: or at least, just as good as. I've always ha certain kind of respect for them. As mentioned in the article, they give us oxygen - they are a huge contributing factor for proving oxygen for everything that breaths air. I am fascinated by the example they set for humans - take your pick and relate a metaphor that works for you. The idea that tree's are responsible for so many things is how I relate them to humans. They provide shelter for the birds and squirrel's and safer grounds for sloths or even a person running away from a dog they just teased and is now getting chased! (It happened to a friend of mine when we were kids :lol:! I can laugh now but then it was frightening and because he deserved the chase and I knew he had, I was worried about the dog and what would happen to the dog so I shouted to my friends to get to the neighbors tree; had the dog caught him... it would have ended badly. You could say, the tree saved two lives that day. My friends from the dog and the dogs from animal control declaring it unsafe and unfit, clearly to dangerous and violent to live any longer. The same tree also had the best apples for apple pie :p!!! Talk about a multi-tasking form of life?

I've written numerous poems about trees, or where they closely revolve around trees or the pine needles or the leaves... I've had many dreams about a few different trees, but they are always consistent in my dreams same trees, same setting and atmosphere, but in an entirely different place. I see trees as having many secrets and an equal amount of stories to tell? I often stare at trees for hours not realizing how long I've been there, trying to get a feel for something to write. It usually comes to me in a dream after a day or more of walking around staring at certain trees (that I get a strange to everyone I've mentioned it to, response) I feel more connected to or that seem to have pull on me that I can't help but gravitate towards them. They simply have an intrigue to them that one day, I hope to pen as perfectly as a non-verbose form of life can tell me about them self.

PeterStringer Featured By Owner Aug 17, 2012  Student Filmographer
I think of trees as characters not just as backgrounds. I think that they vary in size and shape as much we do and I would say if they could talk they would enlighten us all seein as some types mainly oaks live for hundreds of years. I think writers such as Tolkien made us think differently about trees with is ent characters and how in the woods the trees whisper to each other and creak in some effort of movement.
Medniex Featured By Owner Aug 15, 2012  Student General Artist
About first question.
My best experience with trees are they shadows in late autumn nights in my deviation: My Home . It is kind of main subject but indirectly.
Zephammo Featured By Owner Aug 14, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
1. I don't have very many full pieces with backgrounds and everything, but the pieces I have in my mind often have trees as a backdrop, setting the mood around the main idea. I also have multiple ideas for pieces just focused on trees. A field I often drive past is flat except for a few trees in the middle that twist together into one tree, and every time I see it, i find myself wishing it was my property,so I could see it closer, and photograph it, and paint it. It is so beautiful.

2. I love this animated movie called "Fern Gully: The Last Rainforest". The trees aren't really a character, but they are pretty much the focus.

3. When they are well done, I could stare at them for hours.

4. A few, but one in particular. The plum tree in my backyard is where i used to climb and sit all the time. I would catch lady bugs, read, draw, and play in that tree. not to mention the memories of when the plums would appear (some years bring no fruit at all, but the years that do, we are all excited, especially when I was young.)

5. Well, i don't know if I could live in a house with no trees in the yard. My large backyard is full of trees, and so is my front yard. I live in Washington, and I wouldn't want to be where there where no trees. I don't know what I would do without the beauty and fresh air and fun and shelter they provide.
Mytana Featured By Owner Aug 14, 2012  Hobbyist Photographer
I have always valued trees.
I live in Iceland, and those who have seen our landscape, realize that trees do not play a significant role in it.
The Norse settlers that came here, saw forest stretch from the coast to the mountain, a country we can only imagine today.
The had to use the wood for building and for fire and it took them few hundred years to almost erase trees from the surface of our country, leaving the once grown land barren and and black deserts getting ever larger. And the Volcanoes did not help....nor our free range sheep, grazing and biting all the young plants so they could not grow.
That's how things were when I was a little girl. People were waking up from the long sleep of ignorance and realized they had to start fighting for their country. A fight that began with fences, to keep the sheep out of certain areas and growing trees here and there.
In my life I've seen how much has changed since then and those who said trees could not grow in Iceland ( and they were many), had to silently watch as small woods grew in all corners of the country, farmers started growing trees, and every other person, that had a patch to grow on, started their own tree garden. These trees are quite big today (on Icelandic standards ;-)
As for myself, I simply adored the trees I could see when I visited foreign countries, and I admit I envied those countries of their huge, dramatic trees.
Now I have my own garden and the largest tree in it was about my height when I moved here in 2000, but now it towers over me and my one story house. It is an Icelandic tree, an European mountain-ash, that's adorned with lovely white flowers in the spring and beautiful bright red berries in fall.
I love to photograph trees and have painted them on pebbles..... I will photograph some of them and upload....when I have the time.
But until then, take care of the trees, dear tree lovers. They are a symbol of life and fertility.
Furox-art Featured By Owner May 31, 2012  Student General Artist
Well I can answer number 5: Without a tree, a backyard is a pain in the neck. Because all it is good for is to keep mowing the lawn. Week after week. I'd rather have a tree.
GottaLoveMushrooms Featured By Owner May 24, 2012
There's something really pleasantly peaceful and sweet about the blogs you write. They make me smile.
gir131 Featured By Owner May 17, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
1. I use them both to set the mood of a piece, as well as as central elements of a piece, such as the main character.
2. Well, there was this one short movie in 'Fantasia' about a tree spirit that was very inspiring.
3. It definently depends on the perspective, mood, and lens. For instance, if it's a distopic piece where everything is dead, yes this piece really speaks to me, and it is very effective.
4. Yes, we have this dogwood tree beside our house that i have always found calming.
5. It's not a backyard unless it has a fence of trees
MYSTIcalJADE Featured By Owner May 12, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Trees are one of my favourite subjects to photograph <3
Adrriian Featured By Owner May 8, 2012
artR33F Featured By Owner May 7, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
1) i think trees, one tree or multiple trees in the background or something, pools it together because of the complex-acy. :D

2) the childerns book: into the wild. the forest is really the main character.

3)okay, its gives off a feeling of sadness or unhappyness if there is no trees or the main object isnt showing joy, and you know i feel happy if there is. like a sense for freeness.

4)no not really. i never climbed a tree or had a tree house or anything but i always hug a tree when i see one :3

5)nope, it is just a yard without a tree. even more if there is a little kid invold, because trees, for me, remind me a freedom (as said up there ^) and that is basically what seems to go on in a kids mind :DD
Argolith Featured By Owner May 6, 2012  Hobbyist Photographer
I've used trees as central subjects, especially for IR photography. They are an important part of nature and also aesthetically pleasing.
Shirory Featured By Owner May 5, 2012
remind me of Walden- "the trees were my teachers..." or something like that.
IAmDevian-t Featured By Owner May 5, 2012  Hobbyist Filmographer
1.) trees are the center. For the representation that memes with them is so meaningful the way that they are created is just. Amazing in itself.
2.) lord of the rings and definitely avatar, the entire civilization of the navi people was based off the connection between the trees and earth
Lady-LM Featured By Owner May 5, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
1) I'm a newish writer so I haven't gotten the chance to use trees yet.

2) Book: The Inheritance Cycle. Movie: Lord of the Rings, the Two Towers/Avatar.

3) Not really. Nature scenes can be very relaxing and stimulating.

4) Uh...the only tree that I can think of is one in the woods in the state park in the town next to mine. When I used to go there often with my dad when I was little we called it the Octopus Tree, because the thick, long branches stretched out from the trunk near the ground and they were fun to climb on. Over the years many people had carved things into the bark. As far as I know it's still there.

5) No. A backyard needs at least one tree of a decent size to provide shade when it's hot, leaves to jump in in the Fall, and a place to gather.
jecle Featured By Owner May 5, 2012  Student General Artist
trees to me have always been sacred, more holy than a church or temple even. i could never live in a place where i couldn't escape to the woods or calm under a canopy of green. trees are the coolest friends i grew up with. a tree was planted for every birth in our family and our family orchard is amazing

id say they take my breath away but they gave it tome in the first place
Solarune Featured By Owner May 6, 2012   Writer
This comment. :love: Exactly this. Beautiful.
jecle Featured By Owner May 6, 2012  Student General Artist
SKKDragonKnight Featured By Owner May 5, 2012
This is very nice! I like all the tree pictures and the thought that went into writing this. I :heart: nature and :earth:
TenshiHime7 Featured By Owner May 5, 2012  Professional General Artist
1- Not as central focus yet, but I used trees as backgrounds a few times, so yes.

2- You meant moving and speaking trees? If so, there is one in the Lord of the Rings (or more? I haven't watch these for a while). Even in World of Warcraft, until a certain patch, druids on healing mode were always shapeshifted as trees. Now it's only a temporary spell, because the GMs thought it made the druids too powerful. Also, on non-moving trees, there was this huge headquater in Avatar.

3- Not all the time. It is easy however to make landscape works empty and boring. If an artist has the talent to capture all the small details of the forest, water, grass, clouds and so on, it becomes a masterpiece!

4- So many so many! I used to play in a friend of mine's "forest". Actually it was just a handful of big trees and a big roch sitting in the middle, but I felt it was a huge forest. We also have a bunch of apple trees in our garden.

5- You can still make a playground with no tree, no plant or flower, nothing but grass full on pesticides, but it will never feel as great as with trees, plants and flowers and toxic-free grass.
ZeroClimate Featured By Owner May 4, 2012  Professional General Artist
For the Author

1As an artist, writer or photographer, do you think of trees as mostly background or backdrop to your art? Or have you actually used trees as a central subject?

Depends on the focal point of the composition, but I prefer a tree(s) to be a backdrop in a visual engagement with a subject

2What’s your favorite work of fiction or movie that really made use of the forest as an actual “character” in the story?

James Cameron's Avatar is probably the most visually arresting.
JRR Tolkiens use of land with Ents, had a really engaging character presence.
For pure blissful visuals, Baraka was beautiful to see in the theaters.
The Happening by M.Night Shyamalan, was frighting to think what would be possible if his art was imitating a life possibly yet to be seen.

3Do you find “subject-less” landscape photography or paintings generally boring or often compelling? Or does it all depend on the artist’s lens or brush?

All in the lens and brushes. As the audience, I try to enjoy the visuals or lack thereof the artist is providing me, and less indulging what I would have wanted to see or would have done differently.

4Can you remember a specific tree that played an important part in your own life? Or maybe that still does?

There have been several, from saplings that I have rescued and relocated to thrive and become a focal point for my family, to Botanical gardens I visit to reminisce and sit by familiar trees I played near as a child. -Bok Tower Botanical Gardens in Lake Whales, Florida.

5Is a backyard without at least one tree really a “backyard” (i.e., a theater of childhood dreams of adventure) or just a soulless kid & pet pen?

It is sad to think some backyards do not have at least one tree, or some kind of great foliage for children/adult fantasy worlds to flourish. So, as much as I hate to belittle what many have grown up with, I agree, a pen. Hopefully not too soulless.

-I would add, If we all still have that little kid inside of us, we should all try to keep a little magic in our backyards. Something to look at thru a window on a breezy day, something to anticipate coming back to life after winter, something beautiful to bring color to our lives when the seasons change. Even something to sit under and dream a little. Or alot.
Loza-Muse Featured By Owner May 4, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
As an artist, writer or photographer, do you think of trees as mostly background or backdrop to your art? Or have you actually used trees as a central subject?
To be honest with you, I have only ever used trees as a background not as my central focus in my stories. They act as places of hiding and refugee to some of my characters and when I do use trees in my stories, I just realized I have only touched on them when there is a time of spiritual awakening and realisation to my characters that things are never as they truly seem... I now have the temptation to write something solely based upon a tree.

What’s your favorite work of fiction or movie that really made use of the forest as an actual “character” in the story?
Hm.. Let me think... Oh wow, this is actually difficult to find something that has used the forest as a character.. I have read stories where things living within the trees provide guidance or pieces of bark act as keys, even where they stir and seemingly retreat when danger is near but where they are focal characters... I mean even in Avatar, the tree is their source of life and everything but they never truly referred to it as a character... I know in Pocahontas there was that tree that was her guidance and in Lord of the Rings (I could never get through the whole thing as of yet) There were those trees that came to life.. But the artists for each of those movies never really focused much on the trees but they acted as a bridge to the next scene or the reason for an entire storyline in Avatar... That is a really tricky question, sorry I can't seem to answer it clearly..

Do you find “subject-less” landscape photography or paintings generally boring or often compelling? Or does it all depend on the artist’s lens or brush?
I find it extremely compelling and bold. For the artist to allow the viewer to see ever aspect of the piece even any small faults that they may have overlooked if there was a focal point is absolutely inspiring. Pieces that have no subject cause the eye to roam and you can find your self studying them continuously trying to take in every single aspect. It is like a million pieces in one solid broad piece. Its always been breath taking to me, I can never figure out exactly where to start. It gives a sense at times of not being completely insignificant as most landscapes compare to the focal point of a small person but ones with no subject well it makes you feel like the subject the the only thing is, you are overlooking everything and the idea of all that vast beauty being captured brings a feeling or serenity I guess...

Can you remember a specific tree that played an important part in your own life? Or maybe that still does?
Actually I was about to say no when I just remembered, when I was younger and lived in a different country, a greener one XD There was this large tree in my back year that I would continuously climb and lose myself within. When I was younger I used to love building things with wood, creating large structures and when it came morning where I was determine to hold it together, I would find it would have been used for fire wood.

That tree though was my little escape that I was always told to get down from because it was fairly high but I loved the feel of the wind and the fact that it was a creation that I had found that couldn't be taken away. I even built a swing on it myself that wasn't really the best since at one stage it broke... But I loved the tree and thinking I'd never loose I kept it in my heart and I can tend to find it very difficult to hold onto things and let them affect me. I hardly create bonds with objects and usually leave things behind but I thought I'd have it forever, I never saw the sight of growing up, I never imagined moving countries and being taken away from the tree... I've only realized now looking back on it all at this moment...

Is a backyard without at least one tree really a “backyard” (i.e., a theater of childhood dreams of adventure) or just a soulless kid & pet pen?
No, I don't believe so, its just like a painting or a picture with no subject. Child can make anything their canvas, though these days its done instead through video gaming... most children don't have trees as they maybe in developing areas that have been cleared of all trees but I don't think it makes them soulless, dreams come from the mind and thats where most people choose to linger, at times, trees just act as a anchor to the earth in connecting the mind to reality. Its why so many have a pencil as it is tangible and a way to connect their dreams to paper and if you think about it, they are anchoring it to a tree as paper comes from trees. Wow, well not even I noticed that, sudden realisation I guess...

Sorry about my rambling.. I just like to respond to your articles when I can ^^
Artespell Featured By Owner May 4, 2012  Student Digital Artist
:heart: :icontreehuggerplz:
DanoGambler Featured By Owner May 4, 2012  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Wow... just wow... Never thought about all this this way.. but it's so true :3 And that I - as a fan of the Northern mythology - has failed to notice this x3.....
Very interesting anyway :3
karinne1 Featured By Owner May 4, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
i love your questions- you are deep- diplomatic and so sensitive- i am new here-i am in love with trees- they looks somehow- with the face of people-trees- are for me- the power of life-regeneration and change- i choose one beauty dev- as fav- pls visit my deviation if u have some free time-thanks so much-kiss
Temujinsword Featured By Owner May 4, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
1. As a photographer, I usualy use trees as the central subject of my art. I rarely use them when drawing or painting, but if I do, they are backgrounds.

2. The Icemark chronicles. In these fabulous books, the woods in the main country in the book are actualy a secret kingdom of their own with Kings that are made of the woods.

3. I find them interesting. It makes me wonder what else is in this place that has been portrayed and generaly makes me want to go there.

4. I cannot think of an individual tree, but a specific woodland that has no name. I walk there at least twice a day and it is such an inspiring place. It only came into my life six years ago, but I can barely imagine living without it.

5. I would say yes. It can still be a 'backyard' (or as we Brits call it, a garden) even if there are no trees. I often think that the most beautiful trees are found in inaccessible places.
cardfue Featured By Owner May 4, 2012  Student Digital Artist
Excellent display of artwork!
lewn-atic Featured By Owner May 4, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I remember a long time ago I would watch the movie Pocahontas, and pretend that the plain apple tree in our yard was my own version of the grandmother willow. <3
And each tree would have its own kind of voice when I'd pretend. Pine trees were all really gruff and strong sounding, I remember.
Plants as characters have always been an interesting concept to me, probably because of that.
FluffyWulfy Featured By Owner May 4, 2012  Student General Artist
beautiful :icondurrhurrplz:
MIROIRduSONGE Featured By Owner May 4, 2012  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
1) In my gallery there is only one doodle of a dead tree which I made during a boring lesson at school. I'm not very good at drawing trees but I love them. If I'd be able to I'm pretty sure I would use them in my artworks more often.

2) Definitely Lord of the Rings. I love the idea that trees are old, wise creatures which are sick and tired of mankind and fighting back. Or that they actually talk and have a soul. To me everything has a soul, even a tree or a simple stone.

3) I'm totally with :dev~EstrangeloEdessa: could copy her statement ^^

4) Actually yes. When I was a little child I brought a stick home with me from walking in the forest. At that time I had my own little seperated part in the garten, so to say. You can imagine it wasn't that much, it just kept me off my parents parts ;) Anyway, that stick that I mentioned I put into the ground and simply said "now grow". At first I forgot about it and when I came back to the spot and thought the stick must have died by now and wanted to throw it away I realized that it had actually grown roots! Now this tree stayed with me. When we moved into a new hosue I would not leave the garden without my tree. It was a sycamore maple and I really felt connected to it. To me, he was my soulmate and whenever I felt like I couldn't talk to anybody I just sat in the garden next to him, no matter if rain or sunshine. Then one day came when we moved again. I was 19 and my tree already 14 years of age. My father however instead of waiting for me to dig it out (I was afraid he would do him any bad) together with him, already had started when I arrived from school. The main root of the maple had been broken in two halfs and when I saw it I really felt like my heart would do the same. My mother and father planted the tree in the garden of the new farm they now live on. But I already knew deep inside that it was a lost cause. The maple died and I still feel like a part of me died with him that day. I will never forgive my father for being impatienced at that day.

5) If you've read answer 4 you already know answer 5
GrabYourShovelAndDig Featured By Owner May 4, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
No one has space here for trees in their garden. To say that not having one makes your garden wrong somehow is just mean.
Schneemaehne Featured By Owner May 4, 2012
1) I have to admit I just "used" them for a pretty background. Well, not even a pretty one I like to curse and swear about having to draw so darn many trees for backgrounds. On the other hand, before I started exploring the internet and drawing things like my own or other peoples characters I did draw a lot of trees. In the way a ten-years-old draws trees, all looking stiff and ugly, but I did draw them a lot. Together with other plants.
2) Not sure. But there are a lot of books - fantasy novels mostly - that feature a kind of wood/forest with emotions. Old "evil" ones but also helping, "nice" woods who would protect the protagonists from harm or give them food and shelter. While strolling to the woods near my house I love to imagine it was one big, living creature I could talk to or who would help me.
3) It depends. If I would go out and just take pictures from my garden I would mots likely consider them as boring. Same thing with these "Been here, done that"-holiday snaps. But there are great artist who really know what they doing and either create an atmosphere so thick and emotional or can kinda "capture" the essence of something in their photos. I admire those works. Staying in the example of trees, they e.g. draw or photograph an oak tree and it is just wonderful with the lignting or the composition or whatever. And I think "Well, it's not like your looking at at least ten oak trees every day when you look out of your window, but now you're going totally hyper because of an picture of one of those" - and the next time I do look out of my window I see "my" boring old oak trees and find something new in them. If you have them around you all day you'll forget how beautiful things are. It takes an artist from time to time to remember me about what I'm actually seeing.
4) Oh yes. Right in front of me now, maybe ten meters behind the glass of my window. It's an horse chestnut tree. It's at least 150 years old, because we have old paintings showing the (nowadays non-existent) pathway to the local graveyeard/church. It was a long way, several kilometers and today the only piece still visible is the very beginning - our gateway. And on all these pictures there is a small horse chestnut. Today it's several meters high and one of the biggest trees around. Sometimes I wondered how many generations of our neighbours this tree has seen. When I was younger the thought of living directly beneath the rests of a way people used to carry their beloved ones to their last resting place scared me to bits. I couldn't sleep for hours, seeing a ghost in every bit of moonlight that beamed through the leafes of the oak. On the other hand I played under it with my little sister, we tried to climb it (and failed) several times. We feed the birds in the winter right under it, with being spring now it is filled with little titbirds and pidgeons and whatever. There's a little bank under it for resting and a bit farer away our beloved dog is buried. You can say that even if it's on the edge of our garden this tree is the most important one. It's my yearly "wonder" to see it coming back to life each spring.
5) That's hard. I've never spent my life elsewhere than here on the countryside where gardens are old and big and full with trees. And behind them, there's normally just a small wall or something and then you're in the fields or woods. With even more trees and "adventures". I never feeled at home when I vistited someones garden and it was just a square piece of grass. But like a lot of people already stated, you can't have a giant garden in a city. And they are a whole bunch of work. Our garden never was "cleaned up" it was always a bit wild with rooting herbs and plants growing wherever they wanted. I think this is the perfect environment for your childhood adventures. For playing knights and robbers or playing horse (yes, I was such a girl^^) and jumping and running and cutting your knees and falling in nettles and thorny rosebushes. But even without it - as children your imagination is so strong and always running wild, so maybe you could have the same "adventures" in a small garden or while visiting a park. I just think it's just harder to do so...
EstrangeloEdessa Featured By Owner May 4, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
1. It depends. I use trees as subject of photography very often. When I take a photo of almost anything else, the background is almost certain to be a tree.

2. I think The Lorax is an obvious answer for this one, both the book and the movie. Not only does it show how important trees are to the environment, but it also shows how important trees are to beauty. Most works of fiction centering around trees focus on only one or the other.

3. It really depends on how the artist captures it. In general, I do love landscape artwork, because I don't see it as "subjectless." I see it as capturing the wide, vast beauty of one very wide, vast subject. In real life, I love looking at landscapes and panoramas as much if not more as looking at single trees.

4. Yes. I first learned to climb in a tree at the apartments where I first lived. At our new house, I learned to appreciate their beauty--there was one apple tree that had a branch which stretched up to right outside my window. Some of the first stories I ever made up were about that tree.

5. Absolutely soulless. I live in a forest, so any treeless backyards around here are not only empty and soulless, but murderous, evil, twisted, perverted, hypocritical abominations of nature. I really need to start carrying tree seeds around in my pocket, just so I can toss them into those disgusting grass-faced yards.
And as for treeless cities, those whole places are soulless. We should just plant one giant tree across them.
MIROIRduSONGE Featured By Owner May 4, 2012  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
why the heck is there no "like" button on dA ? :D
EstrangeloEdessa Featured By Owner May 4, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
Oh, it's only a matter of time.... :evillaugh:
HaniSantosa Featured By Owner May 4, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
tree is exactly a beautiful machine. it converts carbon dioxide into oxygen, powered by sunlight. no other human invented machine can do that :D :D
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