Thursday, March 31, 2016

along the arch of yews

along the arch of yews

one beckons the artist:

sit, commune with me

Greg Thatcher was my sons' art teacher in upper school. During his summer vacations from teaching for the past 25 years, he has been traveling to England to draw ancient yew trees. In the plein air tradition, he sits beneath a tree that calls to him and draws with a hard pencil on heavy paper. He spends hundreds of hours in communion with his subject. Sometimes it takes him two years to complete one drawing. As with all art, the artwork is a reflection of the spirit of the artist united with the spirit of the subject and the material.

Now retired from teaching at the school, he still plans to return to England this summer. To help defray the cost of travel he held a raffle, with one of his prints as prize. I love this print. Like all Greg's drawings, viewing it is a self-referral process. The vanishing perspective, the contrast of light and dark, and the fascinating fractal details beckon one to enter the tree, and at the same time, to enter one's own feelings. Like every experience of beauty, it is a wonderful way to engage both heart and mind.

When I handed Greg a check for the raffle, my only thought was to support this master artist in his work. So it was a great surprise to get a call saying I had won. We are both happy, me, to become the proud owner of an amazing artwork, and the artist, to have someone who loves his work own this print. 

The following artist statement is taken from Greg's website (, which I invite you to visit to see (and purchase) more of his work.         

Artist Statement

The direct experience of an artwork is primarily an internal experience, based solely upon our level of consciousness and our mental impressions and past experiences. Experiencing an artwork with openness can provide us with direct contact with our deeper selves and, at times, a beautiful epiphany that reaffirms the divine. This is my goal, and I hope that you will experience some of the joy, inspiration, beauty and raw primal forces of nature that I experienced while drawing.
My yew tree series is based upon yew trees growing in St. Mary’s churchyard in Painswick, Gloustershire, England. The yew trees were planted in the Middle Ages and form the most beautiful yew tree avenues in the world. Many of the trees planted along dirt pathways around the church have grown together to form archways. Upon discovering the Painswick yew trees, I became fascinated by the larger shapes of the trees and how their shapes and their intricate values interacted and melted together. I am also intrigued by the heightened dramatic quality of the light at Painswick, and had to be very attentive and aware to begin to identify the subtle changes and nuances with the trees. I find this process very stimulating and nourishing to my creativity and imagination.
Working on location during the summers since 1991 has given me the opportunity to become more aware of my perception and feelings for the trees. The trees, in their various settings and light conditions during the day, take on or create a full range of human emotion. Having experienced this, my challenge is to re-create it in the drawings and to forge a link between my experiences and those of the viewer. Thus, the yew tree drawings have become a visual metaphor for my inner experience. I feel that my trips to England to work on location at Painswick have been pivotal to my career. It has given me access to a unique and inspiring landscape, which I find to be culturally thick with creative possibilities. I have exhibited the Yew Trees series in the United States, Canada, England, and France. The drawings are also in corporate and private collections.

The Process

Most of the images here were created on location in St. Mary’s churchyard in Painswick, England. I try to work there each summer from June through early August. I generally spend between 6 to 8 hours a day working on the drawings. I try to take the work to a level where I can finish the piece back here in the states without losing any of the magic or power. These drawings are non-compromising, specific, literal examples of what I actually see and experience. On many of the drawings, I will spend 100 – 650 hours or more on location to establish the image. These drawings require an immense amount of dedication, focus, and concentration. They are without question the most rewarding and difficult images I have made. I have a deep relationship with the trees and my goal is to manifest my experience, love and appreciation of these wonderful friends into vital living works of art.

1 comment:

  1. That is so cool that you won the raffle, Care! What a delight.

    (By the way, you remember who Florinda is, don't you?)