Tagged: trees

kat robertson artist


Thinking alot about Growth recently.
Reading about ideas of Degrowth.
Knowing that it is less, not more, that I need now,
But not wanting to ‘send us back to the dark ages’.

I stare out of the window.
Tree teacher.

The great Oak grows up fast in the beginning.
Then pauses to thicken.
Creating Stability.

Often it looses a lower limb or two as it stretches toward the sky.
Shedding what no longer serves.

It grows slower and wider as it ages.
Putting on rings of girth.
Not only on it’s trunk, but also on it’s branches and it’s roots.
Growing in all directions!
Building strength to ensure it’s longevity.

In years of scarcity it grows less.
In years of plenty it takes all it needs.
In it’s maturity it becomes host to other, new, Life.
Ferns and fungi, lichen and mosses.

Societal progress might do well to learn from this great tree.

Societal ‘growth’ has more in common with the growth I see in the commercial, forestry, plantations.
The fast growing, conifer, trees, all planted too close together.
They rush toward the light.
Growing thin, straight and brittle.
The ground below becoming deadened.
Little thrives there, in the acid dark, to knit it all together.

And then, when the first big wind comes along,
They uproot or snap.
Collide into one another, falling like dominos.
Each taking it’s neighbour down as it falls.

Becoming worthless as a crop.
Impossible to even harvest.

No longer possible to make sense of as ‘forest’.

So Oak teaches it is not about stopping growing.
Not about degrowing.
(Although, perhaps, we could lose a useless limb or two, that no longer serve)

It is about growth in the right places, at the right time.

Allow for more Light.
Create more Space.
With Care and Foresight,
Prune away the dead, or diseased, wood as necessary.

Like all good gardeners, cultivate more Patience.
More Awareness of Resources available.
More Awareness of what grows Beneath.

This is what makes for more Resilience.

These are lessons well worth remembering now.

Not new wisdom. As ancient as the hills.

Thank You Oak for reminding me.

Kat Robertson. May 2021.

charcoal drawing, used to create animation, in its final state.
‘Tree. Growing in all directions
, as dictated by what is available to it, by the stresses it encounters

#100daystreetales (pt 5)

The 100 day project is complete!

I have been very buzy setting up an exhibition in the village, but somehow I have managed to keep up with the days!!

These are drawn, direct with permanent, indian ink onto the inkjet print paper after spending some Time with the shapes in the branches and ‘seeing’ what arises in them.
They are not penciled out first.
They are then stained with a homemeade stain made from alder-bark.
This can be layered for shading and has a beautiful, natural, luminous quality.

All of this batch are ‘first-takes’, with no-re-draws this Time!

Each addition is published daily on Facebook, where the whole collection, so far, can be viewed at #100daystreetales (typed in Facebook search)
The comments have been encouraging and fun!

Or follow these links for previous blog posts:
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

And last, but not least…..here’s a hedgehog!
It was so sweet.
A freind of mine came to the Gaia-Hut exhibition and looked through all the 100 days images and had a bit of a sad face….she so wanted to find hedgehog, as she had been having a lovely time with some in her garden!

I picked up the next blank…and there it was! A hedgehog.

Hope this will make her happy when she next visits.


#100treetales (pt 4)

The 100 day project continues on!

Been finding it harder to keep up with this the last few weeks.
But ‘not doing’ one day means doing two the next and that is quite a push to get them done!

These are drawn, direct with permanent, indian ink onto the inkjet print paper after spending some Time with the shapes in the branches and ‘seeing’ what arises in them.
They are not penciled out first.
They are then stained with a homemeade stain made from alder-bark.
This can be layered for shading and has a beautiful, natural, luminous quality.

All of this batch are ‘first-takes’, with no-re-draws this Time!

Each addition is published daily on Facebook, where the whole collection, so far, can be viewed at #100daystreetales (typed in Facebook search)
The comments have been encouraging and fun!

Or follow these links for previous blog posts:
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

After I published Day 64/’bareback’ a freind got in touch saying that she could see another horse in the same shadow picture.
(I sometimes publish the original ‘blank’ asking if viewer’s can see how I got there.)
She sent me a simple drawing to show me where. I was blown away!
When I had sat down to do it the picture had simply screamed “Horse!” at me, but I was struggling to ‘see’ it.
I did, after much squinting, find a horse and rider.

But the horse she could see was mighty, using the whole page!
And so totally clear , once she had shown me, I could not ‘unsee’ it!

So I printed a repeat shadow pic and drew her stallion out.

I think it is my favorite from this batch as result of such collaboration! Interesting how I often ‘know’ what I am looking for too…..even if I do not always ‘see’ it right away…

Day 74! Getting there!

(click on first image to view as gallery)

I also recieved some other interesting feedback today, on Facebook.

A friend commented that she ‘thought they all tended to look imprisoned and a little sad.’

I found that is so interesting.

I take the shapes I see in the spaces, between the branches and ‘draw them out’, (a kind of organic suduko ), the process feels more about ‘freeing’ to me.
I guess also ‘freeing’ the imagination.

There is also the idea of ALL Life being held in ‘Tree’, which I like.

These are, though, ‘shadow branches’ and, the longer this project continues, sometimes I have felt like I am drawing a kind of role-call for all that may be lost in the future.
I also kind of ‘capture’ what I see, as they ARE ‘caught’ in the branches..
I prefer the idea of them being gentley ‘held’ though!

I have long been a bit obessed by ideas that it is the SPACES BETWEEN that defines ALL.
That, as a human-race, we are very obessed with visible matter and inclined not to notice the much larger, ‘invisible’, fields that, to me, surround and define.
This is what I affectionately call ‘the Gap’, and this obsession has fed into the seed of this project!

Then there is the mono-chrome.
The faded, sienna, look of these drawings.

I do love ink and stain, but I also often miss colour, especially now that we are in summer!

But for continuity and ‘the collection’ I feel I must maintain this technique for all 100 of these ‘tree tales’!

So, as others have also commented, they are multi-dimsional little works….

Another aspect worth sharing is how they help to ground me daily in these strange days of ‘not knowing’……

The Old Eucalyptus

in Memoriam of the mature Eucalyptus that leaned out over the road from the gardens of Craigdhu farmhouse
planted? – 2020
succumbed to the sudden south-westerly gales during May’s lockdown of 2020

To the tree,
The tree that marked the exciting promise of youthful shenanigans.
The tree that called me back to a place,
That then welcomed me with open arms
Each time I turned off  the main trunk road along this smaller branching way.
The tree that leaned ever further over all who entered here
As if trying to vet them as they passed.
The tree whose ancestors came from the other side of the world.
Whose presence reminded some, who have settled here, of Home.
The tree that succumbed, eventually, to Wind and Time,
The tree that will forever be growing still, alive and well,
In so many of our memories.

Kat Robertson June 2020

Sadly, these are the best of the photographs I can find of this local tree legend, when it was alive and towering over village B-road.
It was such an iconic landmark for all who lived here.
It felt like a physical blow to see it lying here.

I stopped the car and spent some Time with it.
I ‘asked’ for some bark and a piece of wood that I thought I might try and make a didgeridoo with it….but having researched how to do it I am not sure my skills are up to that! No termites here to have naturally hollowed it out!

The bark looks a bit like a tribal warrior, to me, walking along, when vertical, and reminisent of a local landscape, when horizontal….

Then there came another local, art initiative.
A Craignish ‘lockdown’ postcard art exhibition!
Postcard sized creations on the theme of ‘Craignish Lockdown’.
Blank postcards to be collected from the village shop and returned to the special postbox on the counter, or the co-ordinator…
To be exhibited in the village hall and, hopefully seen, as restrictions to movement and social distancing roles ‘loosen’.
Another wonderful idea!

This is my submission.
In honor of this old freind we have lost during this Time.

I painted the tree, using just the local mud, then hid that behind an aboriginal style, dot-work, design, as a nod to it’s ancestors.

The central ‘dots’ were punched out the bark of the tree itself and stuck on.

I wrote the poem above on the back.

Looking forward to seeing everyone’s ‘lockdown art’ all together… soon’ish’!?

#100treetales (pt 3)

The 100 day project continues!
I have not missed a day so far. Finding this half hour discipline fits quite well with the day’s routine.

These are drawn, direct with permanent, indian ink onto the inkjet print paper. They are not penciled out first.

Only two really tricky ones.
‘goat’ and ‘crow’.
‘goat’ I actually had to re-print and re-draw….sometimes the pen just follows the wrong line!
Or, a better line becomes obvious after a line has been comitted to.

With ‘crow’, more black ink covered a multitude of regrets!

Past the half-way mark now!

(click on first image to view as gallery)

#100daystreetales (pt 2)

More from the #100daystreetales

(Working as part of 100 Days Project Scotland 2020.
Pictures posted daily to Facebook profile.)

To view previous ‘days’ and concept on this blog, click here.

#100daystreetales (pt 1)

Yes! I have decided I am going to take part in the 100 Days Project Scotland again.
Seems like the perfect Time for it and I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys a small discipline to keep creative everyday!
(Only Day 14 so you could quickly catch-up….?)
You do not even have to be a visual artist!
Some people use words, some fabric, knitting, some video/audio!
Anything goes…you only have to do the same thing, everyday, for 100 days.
The exhibition of all the work collected is always a great event.
(Link is to pictures I included, within last year’s 72 seasons project, of some of 2019 exhibition submissions)
All generations. All kinds of approaches!

I was recently reminded about it when it popped up in my Facebook notifications.

I loved doing the 100 squiggles last year.
(Can also be viewed #100dayssquiggles on Facebook)

Took a wee while to think up something to do this time, but I have decided that this year’s offering will be 100 Tree Tales.
Stories, shown to me by ‘looking through the branches.’

I played around with this idea in 2017 and have always wanted to revist it.

So I have prepared 100 photocopies (photographs of the shadows cast by some special, beech-branch, ‘props’ that hide in my artden, across white paper.)

treasured beech-branch props hiding in my art den

Then, daily, I sit and see what I ‘see’ in them.
What is suggested.
I draw that out in ink, then tint, using my homemade, ‘treeblood’, alder ink.

Here is the collection so far!

Body Tree.


The prompt for the local art challenge was ‘Inside Out/Outisde In’ and as I have been ‘carrying’ this idea, for quite a while now, I thought I’d give it a go.

Inspired by a small birch I planted, years ago now, that has been shining, opposite me, where I often meditate, outside in the garden.
A part of my practice involves breathing as ‘Tree’.
This little tree and I often cross ‘boundaries of being’.

My ‘edges’ drawn in Air, defined only by the tree’s branches.

I felt it kind of fitted the breif! (Although most of the other entries were the view out of a window!)

I sat down and painted this, in ink, freehand, but felt it was not complete. The shape was wrong, my attempts to make the outer twigs lie like hair made her too conifer-like and it is spring!
She needed leaves!

The original black and white ink painting.

So I worked with a photograph of this birch.
In photoshop I selected only the leaves and then super-imposed that image on top of the drawing, to test what it could look like, before I committed to painting them on.

Well that works!

After deciding to go for it and paint the leaves on, I had another play with the completed painting and super-imposed that onto a sky image from another of my photos.

This seemed to stress the Air body better…..

Still not totally happy with it if I am honest.

This is a work I will probably try and create again though.
Re-work it with finer branches, more interesting anatomy and a less chunky trunk.
I love this idea and can see where it could go.

The title’s pun was intended.
Not ‘Bohdi Tree‘, but ‘Body Tree’.
I am not Buddha!

Or we all are……

It was only later, after painting this that I found out it was Buddha’s birthday a few days later.
I also was reminded of how he died.

Did I mention I have been thinking about death, a lot, recently?

(Note to self: Do not eat the meaty, mushroomy, pig dishes my, ‘blacksmith’/engineer, husband prepares, full of salt and a smoker’s over seasoning!) (wink)

The Time spent with this little tree and painting came into our, monthy, Treeisister’s Full Moon meditation too:

Response to Treesister’s May Full Flower Moon Call: Healing the Amazon.

Got a bit lost in ‘doings’ and missed the live call, but joined on replay the following day.
I was ready to pray.
Outside was that super-still way, wet with the first summer rain in a long time. Droplets of mist hung on everything around. Bird song thrilled through this ‘heavy’ stillness. Today I love the rain. We really needed it here after a few dry weeks.
Very quickly, as the meditation began, I became Tree.
I became a little birch I know very well, that grows opposite me where I regularly sit to meditate, outside in the garden. I planted it years ago. It shines so bright now with all its new leaves. I have been photographing it, and even used it as the inspiration for a recent picture of the ‘tree’ ‘drawing’ a meditating figure with the air between its branches.

I called the picture simply ‘BODY TREE’.
I became that little tree even before Clare’s breathing suggestions and her invitation to call our guardian tree. I was so completely with the experience that this tree was obviously the tree for this session.
Water droplets hung on each new leaf.
I could feel myself shining, brilliant in the sunlight. Each time I trembled, or was stirred by the breeze, droplets fell to the ground. Feeding our network. Feeding the entire Earth. I loved how this felt! So I continued to work with this, mainly.
The Amazon, from an eagle eye’s view became very clear, held by our circle. Vast and Lush. Then as Clare continued with describing its destruction, it’s wounding, I saw the huge scars across the canopy….the gaps in it.
Then I began to ‘see ‘ it fighting back…..I saw a perplexed farmer who, every time he tried to cut back the trees,  thousands of tiny seedlings would spring up in their place. I saw vines creeping in real time over cutting machines, strangling them.  The jungle became like a huge triffid, accompanied by orangutans and butterflies, swallowing all of man’s attempts to conquer it.
In tiny, water bejewelled, tree-form, I connected deeply with the relationship between this mighty canopy and the clouds and mist that wove through it. I trembled and let ‘my’ water droplets fall. Water became the conduit. I saw all the trees ‘breathing’ in the water and this tree-breathed water rushing into the black, polluted, veins-like deltas of the river and diluting the poison….clearing the water……
I ‘met’ an unidentified Amazon shaman woman. We bowed to one another, she took my hand. She encouraged me to continue with this simple action.
So I trembled /shivered my body over and over, releasing this shimmering gown of water to my roots and off into the wider field. Water flowed from me through my roots, into others in the circle and out wider and wider world. Water hung on my tongue, my tear ducts, my vagina, my ears and nose…..on each hair……each tiny shake and the droplets fell.
I saw myself Shine as this tiny tree.
 I did not need to ask it for anything else. It had already shown me so much beauty and given me what I needed in this Time.
Praying for all Life and hoping this connection proves as powerful, as it felt during this meditation, to me.

Response to meditation posted on Treesister’s Nest

It was only later I was given the understanding of my vision dream when all Time stands still.

Only later I had more warning dreams illustrating a magnificant, Earth, lightning strike and had further bright flashes of realization….but that would be a story for another post…..

A fun GIF I made using the finished painting and cycling through the hues.

Oh how they shine!

So strange. This lockdown. Such world wide effects.
So massive.
Too massive.

Yet here on the hill all Time stands still.
Only the media keeping us connected to the chaos outside.

When I do not watch/listen all is fine.
All is good.

I venture out on our bi-weekly shopping trips as if going to war.
But it is unlike any war I could have envisioned.
Empty streets. Confused people.
All doing as demanded. All socially distant.
Fearful of each other, yet being polite. So polite.
I smile and say “Doing the doesy-do” as we side step each other.

I approach these trips out with trepidation.
Gloves. Check. Scarf, Check. Han Sanitizer. Check.
On return all the shopping/car is wiped down.
Goods all put in quarantine.

Our shops are 21 miles away.

Why do I feel guilty if I stop for a short wander on a deserted hill, along a deserted shore?
Not touching anything except my camera?
The programming is working.
Hard to ignore the death toll.
Hard to ignore too the insessant advertizing of digital products on our mainstream TV.
“Use ‘Team’, all the proffessionals are.”
The laughing families connecting on this gadget or another.
The endless online occupations for bored people in houses.
Email after email inviting me to join with Zoom, yoga, meditation, chat rooms….

Whatever did we do before the advent of the internet?

Would it really be so bad to sit and read, and draw, and wander, to make space to dream a little? To garden, to cook, to wander with no desitination, to rise with the sun and go to bed at dusk?

So bad to worry? Perhaps to pray?

Alone. Without being seen? Without being witnessed?

I guess the dependance was already in place.

I see it in this blog, my own distracted use of facebook.
My children’s sticky screens.
My husband’s new love of old shows on the TV….and ‘Judge Judy’.
Endless Judge Judy and ‘how to’ mechanical videos.

Like there is no ‘outside’ anymore.

Even here.
Here where all this spring beauty and space just begs for us all to wake up to it…..

I guess many are forgetting how to just be.

“It’s the devil makes work for idle hands.’


I do my share of digital connecting too. Not innocent. but today has been a good day.

I started another sourdough loaf, to bake later.
I dug out 30 or so bramble root balls to try and stop it taking over the whole bank.
I watered my seedlings and sang to them.
I listened to the birds and sat by our tiny pond a while. Tadpole watching.
I meditated for an hour and envisioned only the good of the whole.
Offering hands and asking ‘Show me’.

I thought about Death quite alot.
I find myself thinking quite a bit about Death these strange days.
Cycles. Creation/Destruction. Beginnings and Endings.

“Beause the Earth is round there is no beginning and no end.” I wrote.

We phoned Granny today. It is her birthday. She is 86 years old.
I guess she also thinks about death quite a bit too.

It is my brother’s birthday also.
I dug up some old pictures of us when we were kids and sent them to him on messenger.

Experiencing such waves of nostalgia. So precious Life.

I went out on Earth Day and sang a song to the alder trees, by the burn.
To share with all dear Treesisters who are ‘Singing for the Trees’ today.
‘All connected through the forest floor.’
I prefer this way of connecting to this digital connection.

I cut my own hair. Badly.
So let my husband shave it all off again.
Now this is a pandemic haircut!
Wonder how many are making a similar choice?

I am working on more illustrations, in mud.
I have a new challenge from the local art group.
Funny how that fits exactly with a picture I have been dreaming up for so long now. Think I will spend some Time, later, working that up, before getting on with cooking tea.
A curry tonight I think…..

Mainly I have been just gazing in awe at the rampant march of Spring all around.
The leaves burst out such a brillant green.

Oh how they shine!

We have had exceptional weather these last weeks….the air so dry. Unusually dry.
I feel it on my skin.
This easterly wind blowing all the Fear, of the main continent, our way.
I have had to moisturize, hydrate and water the garden everyday.

But somehow the leaves on the trees keep shining.
Their roots going down deep into the, until recently saturated, Earth.
Stunning in the sunsets we have have also been blessed with.

Let’s all keep shining our light. Turn over a new leaf.

Root down, while reaching for the sky.

And rest in just knowing we are all connected, whether the screens are on ….. or off.

I have dug out an old flower press and found these daffodils, pressed by my son, years ago.
So fragile and precious.
Thought I’d have a play with them.
And now here she is.
A wee smiling daffodil fairy.
In all her finery.
Sending love to all from this place on Earth, as the daffodils outside now also fade, replaced by blossom and startling greens.

kat robertson artist
wee pressed daffodil fairy

Or perhaps this one…..

kat robertson artist
Daffodil Fairy (reworked)

Guardian Trees.

She said
“Close your eyes, breath deep and remember. Bring to mind a tree, any tree. A tree that you have felt a special connection with sometime in your life. Listen carefully, you will know when it comes….”

And there it was.

The huge Scot’s Pine, of my childhood, the one on the drive.

Pinus Slyvestris.

It’s Latin name always used to make me giggle.
These trees have always sounded ‘male’ to me.

Other beloved, more exotic , exciting, tree-candidates danced just out of reach….trees that were more beautiful, more extraordinary….but this tree literally fought to be seen.

Why so?

I realised that I did not remember it too well.
I remember always noticing it on the way to and from school.
I was generally unhappy, both ways, back then.
And so alone.
I’d lose all grievous thinking, momentarily,
when I looked UP, my eyes catching its russet glow
and the twisting drama of it high branches
in the light.
I retain remembered feelings of encouragement.
As if, in those moments, this seed-grown giant,
had given me some strength to go on.
To keep on fighting through all circumstance,
To be strong and resilient,
And not ‘bend to the weather’.

I decided to make the journey.
A kind of pilgrimage.
To thank it for that.
Feeling slightly guilty at the number of times I had simply driven past on our family visits and not thought to ‘check in’.
I wondered if this tree had a message for me.
And I worried for it, after all these years of gales.

What would I find?

Stepping out of the car, I gasped.

So often childhood memories seem smaller when revisited.
Not this tree.
It simply towered over me.

Perhaps it was not only that it had grown?
Perhaps I have become, somehow, smaller?
Was it just that my tree-love is greater
and my bow deeper with age?

I approached it reverently and laid my forehead on its scaly bark.
Listening for the sap rising.
It felt so still.
And smelt of fresh water.
The small stream gurgling at its feet.

I became aware that I could be seen from my father’s house.
And then, ridiculously, self conscious.
In my red raincoat.
I felt exposed.
I slid around the trunk, behind,
Hiding away from the uncomfortable, critical, glare
of those farmhouse windows.

What message could that sky soaring, majesty have for me?
So straight and strong.
Unscalable scales.
It’s graceful, twisting heights, too high for all but birds.
Out of reach.

I remembered how I had always taken it for granted.
How it had always simply been ‘that tree’.
One tree among many others.
All so reliably always there for me.

Still growing there, under my father’s gaze,
But there so long before he ever was.

An ancient, native, indigenous, giant.
The backdrop for this, more recent, more exotic, garden.

So big, so reliably there, it was weirdly easy not to notice it, in passing,
Eyes tuned ahead and sometimes around,
Natural to just look past its scaly, trunk, towards all the flowers,

That is unless you stopped, stood back and craned your neck to see….

(Click on first image to view as gallery)

Standing there, another old guardian tree called to me.
I heard her shout!
From high up on the hill, behind the farmhouse.
As if one told me of the other.
I had completely forgotten her!

I had the time and needed a walk.

A hill oak tree. Sessile Oak (Quercus patraea).
Carved by the elements and wild exposure.
My old wishing tree.
A place I had often sought for comfort and to cry.
She had always had Time to listen to me.

There she was. Still hanging on.

Familiar mossy roots and rocks hugged my body as I sat down
On the livestock-worn earth between her toes.
And I sighed and leaned back into her memory.
Protected from the cold wind by this embrace.

I rested there a while.

Where rot had set in, in her ‘less alive’, branches,
Her own wood-body was now composting, in hollows, and giving birth to new life.

Tree ferns, lichens, mosses, (one tiny pine!), grow now, in these nurturing crevices.

This tree’s strength lies in growing so slow and craggy,
Keeping low and in the lee.
Branches twisting, as if around unseen obstacles in the wind.

Another native.

Who had divinely taken root, and had survived,
with few other companions,
on this rocky outpost.

I wondered if, in her rings, she carried resonance of greater, ancient, forests, been once a part of something bigger, that had, long since, been eroded.
Grazing sheep and wild deer now keep all the area, around this exposed outcrop, a rough pasture of rushes, long grasses, cotton flowers, bracken, spagnum and deep, black, bog.
Perhaps that ancient forest still lies all around, preserved in the peat,
and she sings to them, her sad song,
as the wind rattles her branches.

A lonely survivor.

She just belongs to this place.

And I, like the sheep, was able to rest, once again,

in her shelter, and winter, melancholic, presence, still.

In this wild place, so far away from the garden.

Far away from any windows.

I felt welcomed and that she remembered me.

I spoke my soul, sang her a song,

and made a wish,

promising to return again before too long.

(Click on first image to view as gallery)

I painted a portrait of this tree when I first returned home, to Argyll, with the intention of settling here.
Titled ‘The Wishing Tree’, the painting was bought by my step mother, and still hangs in their home.

A home that lies, tiny, in the landscape far below, where this tree still grows.

A childhood home to which I no longer belong.

In a place where it is the land, and the weather, that owns us all.