Tree Painting by Emily Carr


TreePainting by Emily Carr

EmilyCarr’s Tree Painting

Thispainting was a creation of a Canadian artist, Emily Carr, painted. The painting is that of an abstract tree, but less angular. Shepainted great ribbons of colors rippled across the painting’ssurface. The use of the red color in the forefront enclosed a deeptunnel appearance. However, there is a dark bulbous form inside thespace, perhaps a portion of a downed totem pole, a tree trump or eventhe appearance of the artist herself. Her freedom in her work wasmostly expressed through the kind of materials employed. She usedpaper as an official conception and the use of thinned oil (Kate,2012). She strived to minimize her expenses in her work, but she alsowanted to work rapidly and largely. She used large sheets of Manilapaper that yielded paintings. These paintings had a consistent sizeand were simpler to frame. Carr used a good quality painting mainlywhite house paint mixed with gasoline and that could easilysupplement oil (Lundy, 2013).

EmilyCarr was a famous Canadian writer and artist, who lived from 1871 to1945. In 1910 she lived in France, where the colonialism of her workwas influenced by the works of the Fauves (Kate, 2012). However, shestruggled to explore her passion in arts and consequently was in theverge of giving up. Nonetheless, her interaction and experience withthe Group of Seven the Canadian famous art group and the invaluablesupport of Lawren Harris revived her passion for the arts and shepursued her interest. Her work mostly reflected her awareness of thedeep Canadian culture (Desoto, 2009). Many of her paintings andfamous work is still reserved as Canadian artifacts.

Thispiece of art best described Canada’s quest for environmental sanityand awareness. Emily Carr experienced an imaginative recognitionwith the spirit of nature. Her paintings reflected the gray, coolclimates, the proximity of water catchment areas and mostemphatically the presence of trees. Both as a metaphor and form, thetrees seized the central subject matter of her work (Desoto, 2009).She had claimed that the trees offered her nonstop opportunities forartistic manifestation and growth. To reflect the early Canadiannative homes in her work, the paintings represented a home and anintegral support system to human life. She had a deep spiritualconnection with trees that reflected idealism and artisticcapabilities (Carr, 2005). She had discovered the power of art tocause changes in her early years and so she employed her artisticcapability to echo her undying sentiments.

Thistree painting was an ideal choice to reflect Canada’s culture onlove for nature and the environment. Carr chiefly employed trees inher work during the period of industrialization. Canada was a fastdeveloping country with a growing population and imposed immigration.For these reasons the growing population was forced at that time tosearch for new lands for inhabiting and cultivation. Hence it ispossible to see the danger that trees were faced with from Carr’sperspective (Wyck, 2009). Deforestation and cultivation were theorder of the day and for most population, they never saw the dangerswith interfering with the ecosystem. The government on the other handhad not introduced any regulation that would yield to natureconservation and preservation.

Thetree painting was an excellent choice to express the need forenvironmental conservation and preservation. In additionindustrialization brought the need for railway expansion. Thecultivation period had brought about the need of looking for newmarket. These markets were the neighboring countries with whichCanada would trade with (Wyck, 2009). As a result, to expand themarket, there was an eminent danger to the mere existence of trees.There was a constant conflict that existed between the humanexistence and the order of nature. For this reason, suchenvironmentalists such as Carr sought to use their talents in arts tobring about environmental awareness (Lundy, 2013). It was a periodthat the Canadian culture had appreciated the arts and its impact.Hence, for Carr, the use of the painting was an excellent tool torender the viewers or admires a closer analytical understanding ofnature itself.

Paintingwas an ideal tool to bring about a deeper framework that would engagein future discussions about the subject of trees. The trees were justa means of representing nature itself that was endangered by humanactivities (Wyck, 2009). Carr tried to bring the notion that peoplecould still exist with nature without causing destruction. In herpaintings she tried to specialize in the Canadian native lives bypainting scenic views of people living in harmony with trees. She hadclaimed that trees had a life of their own and shouldn’t be felledanyhow without care. She had already seen the dangers posed by treecutting that was unrestrained (Carr, 2005). There were absolutely nopolicies that regulated tree cutting and she knew trees would bedestroyed completely.

Carrhad discovered her passion for trees and nature. She had employed theuse of tree paintings to champion her relentless pursuit ofconservation. It was an initiative that was unpopular at that periodof time (Desoto, 2009). The virgin forests were invaded by thelogging industries that felled thousands of trees without any attemptto plant trees for replacement. She together with other Canadianartist they had a deeper relationship with nature. It is from naturethat they drew their inspiration that they could express themselvesthrough arts (Lundy, 2013). Hence Carr knew that she was after a moredeeply expressive initiative that would guarantee her a purpose inthe future.

Moreover,this painting could easily inspire the audience with alternativeattitudes towards trees and the environment in general. She had spentmany years examining trees (Carr, 2005). She had exhausted allinformation she could absorb from the trees. In her journal, itreflected her innermost admiration for trees, her communion with themand most empathetically the recognition by them (Lundy, 2013). It waspossible for the audience to easily interpret the style with whichshe projected her feelings on trees. She had indicated once thattrees were more enduring and steadier than people themselves. Herpaintings reflected her visual experience with trees and nature andcontained a rhythm and movement in the art.

Thispainting also reflected Canada’s culture on religious beliefs.Canada was endowed with a culture of religious beliefs predominantlyChristianity. Carr employed this cultural belief in her painting work(Desoto, 2009). She often painted arts in the form of a spiritualredemption. This culture in her work eventually drove her to a higherconnection with Christianity. She painted the forests to represent areligious form of refuge through painting nature to reflectsanctuaries and sacred places. Such trees were developed to representmany forms of moods and moments (Lundy, 2013). For those who couldeasily relate to the trees through their deep religious convictions,she was able to drive the message of the importance of environmentalconservation and preservation.

Thepainting also explored the emotional needs and pleads of the treesthat were being felled without recourse or constraints. Thus Carrcould relate easily with the trees and so they were her own botanicalmatching part of her own imagined existence. She could easilydescribe her feelings through her paintings of the trees. She wouldoften paint trees in pain by describing the dreadful cry out of theexecutioner’s wrath (Lundy, 2013). This she wanted to depict theexecutioners who were often the loggers the agony they cause to thetrees. Carr hoped that this sentiment and all the emotions wouldcause changes to the culture of tree cutting that was prevailing inCanada. She in fact made an impact in the culture of environmentaldegradation in that period (Desoto, 2009). Her paintings causedworldwide discussions on the need of environmental conservation andpreservation.

The tree painting emphasized the need of individual effort to bringabout environmental changes. The fast growing population that wasendowed with the culture of environmental degradation was thusimpacted. The paintings were an ideal tool for causing positiveenvironmental actions that were mainly aimed at not only protectingthe trees but the environment in general. Thus, it is possible toconfidently state that art was an alternative and effective means ofbringing about environmental awareness in Canada (Wyck, 2009).Canada’s landscape reflected a land that offered natures relieveand also an ideal place for human redemption, recovery and vocationaldestination (Kate, 2012). Carr’s work offered to represent abalance between human life and nature through her undying press ofhaving a unique way of illustrating environmental awareness. She wasalso able to reconnect the ancient Canadian religious belief with herpaintings (Carr, 2005). That had an adverse effect in that natureoffered a place of spiritual awareness to the culture of the peopleliving in Canada at the time. They had been impacted in a way thatthey would preserve and conserve the environment


Kate,B. (2012). Tothis Cedar Fountain.London. Caitlin Press Incorporated.

Carr,E. (2005). EmilyCarr Collection.New York. Cambridge University Press.

Desoto,L. (2009). ExtraordinaryCanadians:Emily Carr. Canada. Penguins Group.

Lundy,S. (2013). HeritageApples: A new Sensation.China. Touch Word Publishers.

Wyck,K. (2009). EmilyCarr.Vancouver. Douglas and McIntyre Publishers