Sumi-e Palm Trees, ii

I had hoped to create a video over this past weekend about painting a palm tree, as requested a couple of weeks ago.  Unfortunately, the flu and other life circumstance (like work!) have gotten in the way.  Just recently I came across the quote by Basho about the pine tree and the bamboo, and it made a lot of sense.  After all, in sumi-e, the point is to catch the spirit of something rather than render it as realistic as possible.  Observing palm trees is possible here in California – we have them in our yard, over the fence, down the street.  They are part of much of our landscaping.  However, for many of us, palm trees are rare and exotic creatures.

Thinking about this, I recalled the American artist Winslow Homer.  His paintings – oil and watercolor – of the Caribbean islands and its inhabitants – came to mind.  Palm trees!  His paintings show them in high wind, in a gentle breeze.  Tall ones, short ones.  If you click on the image below, you will be able to see these in greater detail.

If you really want to learn about palm trees, you can experience them, although perhaps not first hand. Looking at another artist’s work is a good way to learn, and it is traditional in many cultures to copy from the master. It is also possible to find movies with palm trees in them – maybe hit YouTube – as well as to do web searches for photos. For my own painting, I will use the palm trees in my neighborhood, and will provide some pictures as this mini series evolves.


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