See the wood, study the trees: Daney Parker interviews tree artist Richard Evans

Obviously, nature is brilliant, and may be the ultimate inspiration for most of us. Poets wax lyrical about it and creatives appreciate that stunning natural scenery in a piece of art, in a TV show or just as the backdrop to a car campaign, is an easy way to please the eye and feed the soul. 

However, if I were to write just one blog on the whole of nature, I’d be really shooting myself in the foot, as what would I write about in the weeks to come? So this week, I’ll focus on trees. Flowers, sea, birds, rivers, deserts … these are subjects you can look forward to me covering in the future. I know, you can’t wait!

Green and pleasant

So, trees. What’s not to love? We are blessed with so many in this country, just don’t ask me to identify what any of them are actually called. At the moment, with so much of our grass looking dead, crispy and brown, treetops are the only green and pleasant thing left in this land. And their canopies provide some much-needed shade from the incessant sun. Not a sentence I ever imagined writing during a British summer.

From where I work, I can see a myriad of shades of green in the branches of a tree that reaches out to my office window and studying it after being asked to do another piece of work (the cheek of it!), helps to calm my nerves before my fingers return to the keyboard.

Environmentally correct

News about the environment is never good these days, and trees are the universal symbol of ‘being green’. One of the many good things about working for an online magazine is that I don’t have to worry about how many trees have been destroyed to create the paper it is printed on.

I asked Richard Evans, an artist who studies and draws trees, why trees are the source of so much inspiration. His current work, GPS Trees, is a growing collection of detailed tree drawings. When a drawing is complete Richard pinpoints the tree's geographical location using accurate GPS co-ordinates – these are then written at the bottom of each artwork. Richard says the aim of this work is "to emotionally connect people to individual trees”. 

"Richard believes that no tree should die in vain"

Occasionally, Richard draws trees in danger, to either raise awareness of their plight or to use the money from the artwork’s sale to help environmental causes. Richard believes that no tree should die in vain.

Tree therapy

When asked why he loves trees so much, Richard gives a poetic, and heartfelt, answer: "Find a tree that stands alone. Stay beneath its canopy for just 10 minutes. In the flickering light, trace the complexity of branches above. Marvel at the labyrinth of weaving wood destined for our sun. Absorb the scent of a million leaves breathing clean oxygen into every lung. Damp-wood incense, dry-blossom perfume. Real aromatherapy. Listen to the tide of air funnelling and fluttering. Through ebb and flow a unique percussive sound of shimmers and whispers. If there’s calm, find the melody of a blackbird or nightingale, the hum of a stag beetle or the fall of an acorn. Then imagine what this mighty wooded sentinel saw, long, long before you; a battle, a plague, a hurricane, forests? And how long after you, perhaps a thousand years. Fifty generations of children, playing, sheltering, discovering. Touch the bark. Brush a leaf. Pick up a seed – feel the life this amazing tree gives.  

“Now, move on to the next tree. Stand for just 10 minutes. Almost everything is different, but just as wonderful …”

Say ‘trees’

Just the word “trees” makes you smile when you say it. So next time you take a selfie, don’t say “cheese”, say “trees”.

Here's where you can see more of Richard Evans's work.