The Art of Trees – Orcas Island Madronas

I love trees and artful expression of trees. If I’ve had no recent revelations to blog about, I can always express myself through the art of trees. I was recently travelling with these arty folks again. We all love photography, painting and looking at art. Per chance, we rented a house on East Sound, right next door to Leo Lambiel’s home and art museum.

We arrived in time to experience our first sunset on the pines and madronas on our bluff. Even though my Mom’s family is from and still lives in Washington, I don’t recall noticing madronas on earlier visits. I wasn’t familiar with their curvy branches and stunningly red bark. They always look like the sun is setting on them. Here on Orcas Island, we were constantly reminded of their presence in natural settings as well as in the community’s artwork.

IMG_5562 (1) Laura's trees with Mark

Photograph of photographer under madrona by Laura Krowchuk

IMG_5443 (1) Madronas

Too chicken to hike the bluff on day 1, my view from the top.

The next day, we walked next door for a tour at Mr. Lambiel’s home and museum. His art collection starts at the fence leading up to his front gate where this metal works madrona was created by artist Todd Spalti.

IMG_5502 (1) Lambiel gate

Metal scape by Todd Spalti

Within Lambiel’s Museum, there were numerous custom murals and original paintings by artist and musician James Hardman.

IMG_5769 (4) James Hardman Madrona

Madronas by James Hardman

While exploring a gallery a few days later, I discovered another madrona painted by Carl Buttke.

IMG_5771 (2) Carl Butke trees

A lone madrona by Carl Buttke

Now thoroughly inspired, and with a glass of wine, I attempted my own madronas. They are very difficult to paint, especially at sunset because the vivid color made me lose my perspective. Perhaps that’s why so much of the local art is impressionistic – or maybe I just need more practice!

IMG_5780 (1) my madrona

Madronas work in progress

15 thoughts on “The Art of Trees – Orcas Island Madronas

  1. What incredibly lovely trees… especially captured during the sunset golden hour like you did! I think you did a great job with your painting. Maybe you could sketch the scene during mid-day, then try to capture the rich, lovely colors with your paints at sunset.


    • It really was beautiful! That’s a good idea – to sketch during the daylight. I’m less organized about painting when I’m travelling, though, pretty much just try to sit down and paint what I see when I’m in the mood.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. The first 2 photos are beautiful. I want to walk into those settings.

    Your madronas wip is great. Personally, I think anything that inspires us is, by definition, great. Whether or not it turns out as we expected is irrelevant. The process of creating is what matters.


    • I could have stayed there much longer, it was so lovely and peaceful. Thanks for the comment, I’ll buy into that logic. The process is fun and twice as much so since I was painting with a friend. Our paintings look nothing alike either!


  3. Tracey, that first photograph is outstanding. I love the way the sun illuminates the branch at the top right corner. The thing about painting, at least from what I am told, is that you don’t have to be in the presence of your subject to be inspired. Your photographs capture the essence of what is beautiful and would inspire any painter. I like the one you’ve started. Before today, I had never even heard of a Madrona. Thank you for this beautiful introduction.


    • Thank you so much for the compliments and encouragement. It means a lot coming from a blogger who photographs so beautifully. I wish I could take credit for the first photo, but it was my friend Laura’s. She does have a good eye!

      Liked by 1 person

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