Contemporary Tree Art

I have decided to research contemporary art with trees as the subject, for part three of the module.

FIG 1. Mark Welland, Reach For The Sky II
FIG 2. Mark Welland Safe Arbour XII

I adore these above two images by Mark Welland . They are very atmospheric and moving. The trees look bare and vulnerable, skeleton like, yet strong and substantial. I love the use of colour and gold leaf in Reach for the Sky II , and the splatters look like the murmurations of starlings on a gentle eve.

Norham Castle, Sunrise c.1845 Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775-1851 Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856

I love the way Gary Cook, in 1058: Melbury Beacon No. 8, portrays the light. The piece is a record of the 1058 species currently associated with the ash tree. It is so beautifully painted. There are suggestions of foliage amidst the dark tree trunks, but these are subtle and almost implied. The shadows on the floor look very realistic. I love the atmosphere of this piece. It has a feeling of light, but with undertones of darkness.

FIG 4. Chris Aggs, Apple Blossom

Chris Aggs’ painting, Apple Blossom, is created in oils, and I love the way you can see the texture in the painting from the way the oil paint has been applied. The colours are quite bold, with the grass being painted in long, bold strokes, and having a smoothness and lack of ‘grassy’ texture. He has taken quite a minimalist approach with the tones and colours, and it works really effectively, especially with the blossom itself. I feel I identify with this style, as it is simple and expressive.

I adore the abstract way in which Rachel Arif has depicted an orchard. This painting seems expressionistic and has a minimal palette. The trunks are visible, but the leaves and foliage are created with swishy brush strokes, in random directions. This piece is wonderfully atmospheric, and feels like a rainy day. I love that the light is subdued.

FIG 6. Olwyn Bowey, Fallen Trees

This depiction of trees by Olwyn Bowey, in Fallen Trees, is bold and has a lot of texture. The branches look sharp and defined, and there is a minimal colour palette. The tree fills the frame, and there is a sense of density and age. It makes me ask why they have fallen? What has happened to them, and what kind of trees are they?

I know there are many examples of trees depicted in art, but these six I particularly enjoyed. I think my favourite of these is Rachel Arif’s Orchard, as it is abstract and has a lot of atmosphere. It draws me in. I like that the trees and foliage are implied, and I love the random nature of the brush strokes, and the expressionist manner in which the subject is depicted.


FIG 1. Mark Welland, Reach For The Sky II At: (Accessed 16/05/21)

FIG 2. Mark Welland, Safe ArbourXII At: (Accessed 16/05/21)

FIG 3. Gary Cook, 1058: Melbury Beacon No. 8 At: (Accessed 16/05/21)

FIG 4. Chris Aggs, Apple Blossom At: (Accessed 16/05/21)

FIG 5. Rachel Arif, Orchard At: (Accessed 16/05/21)

FIG 6. Olwyn Bowey, Fallen Trees At: (Accessed 16/05/21)

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