Art Journal

Study of a Tree Trunk

Project details

Study of a Tree Trunk

Bequest of Muriel Butkin 2009.119 from the Cleveland Museum of Art

Open Access Collection | CC0

Accession: 2009.119


Art Journal

The Cleveland Museum tells us that the artist Georges Michel also restored Dutch and Flemish paintings in the Louvre’s collection, which influenced his own work. Now that is a nice task and focus!

- Study of a Tree Trunk, Georges Michel (French, 1763-1843)

Art Journal - May 8, 2020

I’ve been spending a lot of time in our “yard.” Yard is a funny word to describe the conditions, as we live in the forest on Tiger Mountain. So our “yard” is full of giant evergreen trees, and northwest natives like salal, and huckleberry, and oregon grape. The “yard” has been seriously ignored for a very long time – from well before we moved here five years ago.  We met our a-frame after it had been abandoned for more than five years (a victim of the financial crisis) and after a giant tree fell on it.


There’s a long story to the restoration of the house. There’s a shorter story on the “yard” which is “prioritization.” We worked on the front of the house first, while the back was left to the wild. Still beautiful in it’s own overgrown way – but the snarl of salmonberry and blackberry vines made me cringe. In the summer they seem to grow a foot a day, and can virtually swallow other plants.


So, for the past month I’ve taken on the berries. Just an hour or two a day, focused on berry patrol. And soon with the reduction of vines, it meant my focus shifted to other plants that can be equally dominant – including salal. Still lovely, but better when tamed.


As I practiced the art of subtraction, new forms started to emerge. New spaces, including a sunny basin flanked by giant, aging tree stumps – beautiful in their own right with what look like swatches and spectrums of painted moss, and frilly huckleberry sprouting from crevices. Soon I could see paths throughout woods, winding through to the basin – a sunny spot most every time of day.


And now, rather than woods, I have a sunny spot in my woodland garden.

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