I am so happy to introduce you to some of my new small paintings from my new series called VELATURA.Read More
This week I highlight the story of Tom Howard, one of the eight winners of the Best Onondaga County Tree Photo Challenge, an interactive art project that asked Onondaga County residents to go into nature, find the most beautiful trees in our county, and send their suggestions to me with a photo.
"I am Tom Howard, age 62, and I have lived most of my life in North Syracuse. I was born in Ogdensburg in northern NY. I've been working for OCPL (in the Local History and Genealogy Dept.) for the past 11 years. Tree study has been a life long hobby, ever since I grew up near the old growth North Syracuse Cemetery Oak Grove. I am a member of the Native Tree Society (NTS), an Internet group dedicated to the study of trees. I also write fiction (science fiction, fantasy, historical fiction) and poetry.
The tree in the photo is an ancient sugar maple in the old growth Liverpool School Maple Grove. It is an extraordinary tree, largest and possibly oldest sugar maple in the area. Other members of NTS have not seen a larger sugar maple. The picture was taken in Aug. 2014. The tree is located in the Liverpool School Maple Grove, which is behind the former Wetzel Rd. Elementary School, and near Liverpool High School, south of Wetzel Rd. in the town of Clay.
The tree is a sugar maple and is possibly one of the oldest of its kind in existence. It may be a survey Witness Tree for the Military Tract. The Military Tract covers much of central NY, and consists of lots granted to veterans of the Revolutionary War. The tract was surveyed about 1790, and surveyors marked "Witness Trees" along lot lines and borders. This tree has large scars that could have been made by the surveyor. A sugar maple Witness Tree stood on this spot, and I believe that this is the tree. If this is the tree that the surveyor marked about 1790, it would have been large and prominent then, possibly 200 years old then. This could be one of the oldest sugar maples in existence, at least 400 or more years old today. It is a craggy, ancient giant. I first saw this tree in 1998 when I drove around Onondaga County looking for old trees and old forests.
I heard of the challenge when I walked into the Central Library in downtown Syracuse, and saw your poster. I knew I had to enter it." -Tom Howard
The making of the 'Old Maple Tree'
Below you will see the development of this painting and how, like the Magnolia Tree's painting, my social media followers played a big part on the final result of this artwork.
I really liked the use of minimal colors in this painting but I was unsure how people responded to it. I thought about adding all the greens and browns to create a more similar copy of the photo but in my gut I felt that staying with this minimal color palette of yellows, greens and grays was the right thing to do to create a timeless piece.
So I asked my faithful friends and fans on social media what should I do and I was surprised by the many positive responses cheering me to continue with this limited palette, and so I did.
At the opening reception for Trees of Onondaga, Tom Howard will give a short presentation about our Onondaga County trees! The opening will take place on Saturday, March 14, at the Onondaga Free Library, from 12:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m..
This week I will highlight the story of Deborah Goemans, one of the eight winners of the Best Onondaga County Tree Photo Challenge, an interactive art project that asked Onondaga County residents to go into nature, find the most beautiful trees in our county, and send their suggestions to me with a photo.
1. Describe yourself: name, age, location, what do you do for a living and what are some of your hobbies? I am Deborah June Goemans, a writer and editor living in Tully. My age is over twenty-one J and I love to dance and eat and travel to my native South Africa as often as I can.
2. Why did you choose to photograph this particular tree/ trees? I loved how the blossoms looked like a natural bridal bouquet.
3. What time of the year was it? This picture was taken in spring.
4. What is the exact location of this tree? It is in my garden in Tully, New York.
5. Do you know the type of tree you have captured? Does this tree have a particular meaning to you? This magnolia tree is special for my family. It was planted before we moved into the house but it was like my girls—still young when we moved in. It has grown with them and now that they have moved on to their own lives, it remains, a beautiful symbol of their childhood.
6. How did you find out about this challenge? I love this artist’s work, and I follow her on Facebook.
The making of 'Magnolia Tree'
Below you will see the development of this painting, step by step, and how my social media followers played a big part on the final result of this acrylic painting.
I really liked the red on the background but it looked unfinished that way. I thought about covering all the red and just create a copy of the photo (boring, right?) or saving the red, somehow, therefore, creating a more surrealist and dreamy piece.
So I asked my faithful friends and fans on facebook what they thought I should do. I received many responses and they all had the same answer: KEEP THE RED. So, I did.
I left my perfectionist and joyless way of approaching a painting to embrace a looser and more enjoyable style. Instead of copying exactly the photo, I listened to my gut, allowing this painting to take a distinctive direction. Don't you agree?