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Cheryl A. Richey’s painting, “Crackling Arbutus”

June 21, 2011

“Crackling Arbutus”

Cheryl A. Richey

Mixed media on panel

36” x 24”

Water reflections

On crackling arbutus bark.

Bird cries on the wind.

© Cheryl A. Richey

My painting and haiku were inspired by a week’s holiday in a small cottage overlooking Ganges harbor on Saltspring Island off Vancouver Island, British Columbia.  While my husband and I were enjoying the view and solitude we suddenly became aware of crackling, popping sounds that seemed to be coming from the nearby woods.  After carefully listening, observing, and sleuthing, we discovered that the sounds were coming from thick stands of Madrona trees (Arbutus in Canada).  The reddish bark or “skin” of Arbutus trees grows and stretches and finally tears, cracks, and curls uncovering smooth light green wood beneath.  I had never heard this process before.  I was awestruck by the active and audible movement of the trees’ growth and came to change my perception of these beautiful trees as “passive” forest dwellers.  All of my abstract paintings of “tree spirits,” including Cracking Arbutus, attempt to capture or create my sense of the aliveness, mystery, and enduring vitality of trees.

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