An Ode to Maple Trees

I really love maple trees. Pennsylvania has loads of them, and pretty much every place I've lived up north had nearby maples that I admired. In my parent's backyard there's a maple that we planted way back in 1967 when we moved in. I remember it in its youth, slender and lime-green with freshness, its trunk straight and smooth. It shocks me now when I return home to see how large and grand it has become! It is tall and majestic with a thick trunk lumpy with age, and sturdy branches...too many to count! Many of them hang low to the ground, making a natural ladder perfect for climbing. It towers over me, my 50-year friend.    

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Maples have beautiful leaves, usually with an overall square shape, with swoops and dips in their contours making them look rather fancy. The leaves range in size from tiny to quite large (depending on the variety), and their colors in the fall season span the rainbow: from yellow, to yellow-green, to orange, to cherry red, and deep dark purplish-maroon. I remember many an autumn walk to school when I would collect the leaves along my way, trying to get the biggest range of colors. I would take them home and press them between the pages of the biggest book I could find (back then it was the family dictionary). As an adult I do the same thing, and often when browsing through my art books I'll come upon a pressed leaf, crumbly and sadly brown.    

Over the years, I have done many sketches and paintings of maple trees, especially in their fall finery. They seem to retain their leaves long enough to give us a final blast of color just before the whole landscape turns grey. What a treat!

"Red Maple in WInter", acrylic on canvas, 14" x 14",  copyright 2013

"Red Maple in WInter", acrylic on canvas, 14" x 14",  copyright 2013

"Red Maple in Winter" is one of my favorites. It's based on a photo I took of the glorious maple in my neighbor's back yard in Kingston, PA. The tree's pop of red against the snowy ground and the pine trees looked like it would be such fun to paint. At the time the photo was taken it was late in the afternoon, with a milky sky that had taken on a slightly pinkish tone. This lighting created a fun and subtle shade that I could incorporate into the sky and the snow on the ground, making a soft and neutral backdrop to the maple. And my neighbors' house, a historic three-story Federal, takes a peek at us. Surrounded by the trees it looks protected and cozy. 

Just for fun I'll post some of my other maple tree paintings below. You can click to enlarge them. The first one (going left to right) represents a red maple in the summer; the next one features maples in various fall colors; the third painting features the same tree as pictured above in "Red Maple in Winter" but from a slightly different angle, sometime in the early autumn; and lastly is "New Day Dawning" which has maples in the background tinted by the sunrise.   


I am wondering: are you as crazy for maple trees as I am?

And is there a favorite tree that has inspired you?

Feel free to share below!



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