Last week I had the rare opportunity to sit still in nature for an entire day. It’s called hunting, and it’s something I rarely make time for these days. I try to go at least once a year, and it’s usually during the week after Thanksgiving. That means there’s the potential for it to be very cold, but this year the temperature was quite moderate—not the idea condition for hunting, but beautiful for sitting out in the woods.
As I sat in my tree stand, I had a sudden urge to climb down and go rummaging around the forest floor in search of interesting scraps of wood. As an artist who works with wood, the forest is an unbelievable treasure trove of free and amazingly-unique materials. I felt like I was sitting in a big toy box.
But I did not climb down. I was hunting and had to stay focused. Still, I got to looking at the trees around me. They’re one of God’s most incredible creations in both function and form. Many of us know the lead stanza from Joyce Kilmer’s poem, Trees:
I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.
But my favorite is the final stanza of the poem which in a way pokes fun at itself:
Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.
The woods were quiet that day. The deer seem to know when us hunters are out and about. My mind wandered and I considered how the fundamental elements of art are all clearly seen within the structure of a tree. I gave myself the challenge of photographing those elements. Looking around, I quickly spotted many examples of each one. So I made my challenge a bit more restrictive in that I had to photograph each element using only the tree in which I sat.
So with that introduction, I present the seven elements of art as seen in a single tree: