Friday, February 22, 2008

Arcadia 4:

And finally some Magnolia flowers which brightened a grey, drizzly day- though the second photo is of a Japanese Apricot tree (I'm afraid I always prefer the more visual colloquial names to the Latin ones):

Arcadia 3:

And now for some pretty patterns....

Arcadia 2:

And here are more visuals from the Arboretum- although the final photo is taken in Descanso Gardens in La Canada where we went subsequently, in search of Beaver-suitable-Birches:

Descanso Gardens

Arcadia 1:

Yesterday, it was good to see some special trees, after witnessing the City Council's anti-tree, un-democratic, dictator-like behavior.

I took the opportunity of going to the Arboretum in Arcadia- one of my favorite places- tagging on to a "scouting" search for a grove of Birch Trees suitable for a Beaver, to be used for a Commercial. The birches there were NOT suitable but I had a wonderful, happy time seeing and photographing lots of beautiful and extraordinary trees- many being old friends of mine.

As a follow-up of my "Roots" post of February 7th, I will start by showing two photos of roots. Having thought others were like animals' feet, it was interesting to see some named "Elephant Foot Trees". The other two trees shown here are Silk Floss Trees. They are one of my VERY favorite trees and will have to have their own post soon:

Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden

Ficus Trees' Appeal:

February 19th was not a good day for Santa Monica's Ficus trees: Treesavers appealed to the City Council for the Landmarks Commission's ruling to be overturned (see post Ficus Trees not Landmarked, January 22nd)- this was denied. We had an even stronger Landmarking case, having discovered a second "historical personage" involved with Jacqueline Girion's tree-planting: the first Woman Mayor of Santa Monica, Clo Hoover, another early female environmental activist. Again, our PowerPoint presentation proved the trees fulfilled four of the Landmarks' Designation Criteria. The City Council, however, have other agendas.

Ignoring public opinion- as clearly demonstrated by the great turn-out of Treesavers- Councilmember Kevin McKeowen's (our sole City Council supporter) motion to reconsider the tree portion of the streetscape scheme was outrightly rejected.

The next step is a Court Injunction Hearing on February 28th: the trees cannot be cut down before that.

I have mentioned previously that I was especially upset about the proposed culling of the Ficus trees because I had been constructing a sculptural lightbox based on one (I call it by its colloquial name: Green Gem)- well, here it is in Court on the PowerPoint presentation, backing up the fact that the trees have "artistic interest"!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Patterns of Palm Trees:

Walking home the other evening, the sunlight was just catching my local, delicate, spindly palm trees....

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Maharishi and a Tree:

Since his death on February 5th 2008, Maharishi, of Transcendental Meditation, has been much on my mind. He has had a big effect on my life in that his Meditation technique has largely contributed to my happiness and to my sanity throughout the difficult moments of my life.

I started his meditation in its early days in the UK, largely because I felt it would contribute to my state of mind as a painter. At that time the majority of meditators were middle-aged and elderly “weirdo’s”- I was one of the rare young ones.

Courses then were small and intimate. This was before the Bangor Course, attended by The Beatles and Mick Jagger (and me!), which made Meditation OK in the UK. I went to one in rural West Wales: during the Course Maharishi spoke of his wish to have TM (as it was called) represented at an Exhibition in Canada. A small group of us connected with the Arts and Media were invited to come up to London to discuss this with him.

He wanted Artists to depict the variety of people who meditated. Being very serious and channel-visioned, I argued that I could not do this as my paintings at the time were abstract and if I did a realistic painting it would not be a good one and would be recognized as such. However, when we said our farewells he appealed to me: “You will paint me a picture won’t you?”- what else could I answer but “yes”.

With no intention of following this up, I returned to Malvern, where I was living. I embarked on a painting of my original Conker tree (see January Post “My Conker Trees”); like Cezanne with his Mont St. Victoire, I painted it endlessly.
This time I painted a very diagrammatical painting of it: a very large painting with delicate, meticulous blue lines on a white background- finally, when exhibited, entitled “Blue Lines Surrounded by Orange”- the orange referring to the return edges.

It was only after the painting was completed that I realized that what I had painted was a diagram that, throughout the Course, Maharishi had drawn to show us the process of Transcending.

I had painted Maharishi’s painting- and it was a Tree.

Thursday, February 7, 2008


Roots…. roots fascinate us all- children and adults. As a child I found it exciting seeing the slightly scary roots of blown-down trees in forests in Aberdeenshire which gave one an insight into the tree as a whole.

At the moment I am thinking a lot about roots in relation to myself and my relationship with Santa Monica. Previously, I felt that I was floating on the surface but- since working for Treesavers- I now feel that I have put down PHYSICAL roots here. It is a very visual feeling-not just metaphorical.

When I lived in London I used to periodically have a desperate need to “earth” myself by walking in a field and literally getting mud on my shoes; there is something similar between this and my “rooting”.

As for the actual roots of trees- just as there is infinite variety in the trees themselves, so there is in what we see on the surface; some trees just appear to be perched on the ground whereas others give a melodramatic display of tangled roots. They all engross one; they are all weird in some way.

Starting with some of the show-off surface ones: