Dear Artist, Nearby where I live is Redwood Park. Above the Hazelmere Valley, these originally clear-cut 80 acres were owned by deaf twins, David and Peter Brown. Around 1893, when they were in their early 20s, the brothers started planting and caring for small trees collected as seeds and seedlings by mail from places like Russia, Austria, Japan, France, Italy and California. As the trees grew, the reclusive and eccentric brothers built and lived in a two-story treehouse. Here, in 1958, they died, leaving this property to the municipality. Today the park is a mature forest — a stately cathedral with winding pathways, occasional sunny meadows and secret painterly hideaways. To set up here is to feel the brothers’ dedication to peaceful isolation and the miracle of growth. All of us have the opportunity to leave our world with some sort of monument. Some among us have the compulsion more than others. Down deep, many artists have the idea that the objects we produce will be our legacy. Our life in art is like the growth of a forest — small seeds nurtured until their presence is inescapable. We, too, use the power of nature to build our unique monuments. With dissemination and distribution our life-work in art is divided and travels to many lands. Unlike a forest that can be taken down with a single careless match, ours is of many parts — some, at least, which may stay out of harm’s way. We owe it to ourselves to manage the quality of our craft. We need to take care of permanence and give heed to the integrity of our designs and the lasting freshness of our colours. “Never stop working on your statue until the divine glory of virtue shines out on you, until you see self-mastery enthroned upon its holy seat,” says Plotinus in “The Enneads.” It’s a given that our art might just be around for a long time. “Ars longa, vita brevis est.” (Hippocrates) “Art is long, life is short.” The brothers, great readers that they were in their silent worlds, knew the value of ancient things. “The emanation from old trees changes and renews the spirit.” (Robert Louis Stevenson) Best regards, Robert PS: “Along the way trees are planted which are not expected to bear fruit in one’s lifetime.” (The Dreamway, 231) Esoterica: Incense, Lebanon, and Blue Atlas Cedars and many other evergreens have done well here. Elms, chestnuts and maples are doing okay. Of the 32 species the brothers planted, the California redwoods, Sequoia gigantea, have truly thrived. Is this the world’s longest living thing? Is this one of our largest? These sequoias I now sit under are truly large, but they are perhaps not as large as they are going to be.   Crafting a healing retreat by Gordon Soaring Hawk, Hildale, UT, USA   Not everyone is gifted with the ability to create masterful works with the brush; in fact, many times I have felt like Amadeus’ Salieri in being condemned to have sufficient talent only to recognize the talents of others. Even so, to craft something that may extend beyond the scope of one’s lifetime is a worthy endeavor. That is what my darling friend and I happen to be doing on the acreage we live upon, here in the desert of the Arizona Strip — we are crafting a place of healing retreat: meditative nooks, places to camp, edible landscapes and a pervasive sense of peace. There is 1 comment for Crafting a healing retreat by Gordon Soaring Hawk
From: Alan Mynall — Aug 14, 2012

I have yet to see an ugly tree.

  Spiritual endeavor for a lucky people by Gwen Fox, Colorado Springs, CO, USA  

original painting
by Gwen Fox

Thanks to those who have come before us we have many wonderful things to enjoy. Our art when produced with care and thought is not only a lasting endeavor but also a spiritual one that sends our energy out into the universe long after we are gone. As a teacher and artist I always think about how I can instill in my students the beauty and joy of sharing their soul. Painting isn’t just putting down paint in a preconceived manner with perfect technique… it is the going within and sharing that deep part of you that makes you whole. It is easy to learn technique and design but when we open up ourselves and allow the world to see our emotion we deepen the experience for everyone. We as artists are the luckiest people in the world. There are 3 comments for Spiritual endeavor for a lucky people by Gwen Fox
From: Anonymous — Aug 13, 2012

I was quite astonished when I saw this image and thought “Gwen Fox”..I saw your work on the internet years ago, and then lost both the bookmark to the place..and, forgive it, your name from my memory..and like a jolt of electricity, seeing these the old synapses fired! You have made you mark in my world.

From: Anonymous — Aug 13, 2012


….add to that, deb lacativa
From: Anonymous — Aug 14, 2012

I love your paintings

  Mixed feelings about legacy by Wes Giesbrecht, Mission, BC, Canada  

“The First time”
wood tiles 46 x 94 inches
by Wes Giesbrecht

I read in a science newsletter awhile ago that some spruce trees in Sweden have been found to be close to 10,000 years old. I’ve turned a lot of trees into my artwork over the years. There’s a legacy of somewhere in the vicinity of a thousand of my wall hangings spread around the planet. Some are smaller but a lot of them are in the neighbourhood of 16 to 24 square feet or more. That’s a lot of expensive sawdust. I rarely ever used dyes or stains preferring to rely on the natural colours of the woods. Since 2008 sales, and hence production, have gone way down but I get emails now and then from people who saw them as much as 10 years ago and have finally decided to have a custom piece made. The tiles are fastened to a cloth backer so the work can be rolled up for shipping. This one is called The First Time. It’s 46 x 94 inches — that’s 4,342 one-inch tiles, made form wenge (black) bloodwood, purple heart, aspen (white) and figured maple. I have mixed feelings about my legacy. The wall hangings are by no means as beautiful as the trees they were made from, so what’s my excuse? There are 2 comments for Mixed feelings about legacy by Wes Giesbrecht
From: Wes Giesbrecht — Aug 13, 2012

A little post script: I thought I might mention that I’m also a joiner by trade. (furniture-cabinet maker)

While I have mixed feelings, as I said, about my mosaics legacy, I have distinctly clear feelings about using trees to make junk furniture or cabinets that will be in a dumpster in five years, turning them into junk mail, excessive use of paper towels and many other wasteful practices not to mention slash and burn for whatever reason. I guess what I’m saying is, there are worse things that can happen to trees.
From: I. Nonimus (famous greek philosopher) — Aug 14, 2012

man! i know what you mean. arrogance, preciousness, pretense to even think of legacy. on the other hand, with out trying for something i am nothing. a tiny handful of us might have greatness and those works will survive. for the rest of us– it’s the dustbin of history. but in the doing there is transcendence.

  A forgotten gem by Anne Weiler-Brown, Zion Canyon, Utah, USA  

“Slot Canyon Passage”
mixed media 84 x 48 inches
by Anne Weiler-Brown

Years ago I lived in Bamfield on the wild west coast of Vancouver Island. When we came to “the city,” we would stay in the Fraser area as a middle ground between the remoteness of Bamfield and the craziness of Vancouver. On one of these trips we found the Redwood Park. Until I read your letter this morning, I truly had forgotten this little gem. Thank you for bringing back a fond hike to my memory. Now that I live in the lovely high desert outside Zion National Park in southern Utah, what a sweet thought to remember those gorgeous trees!       The joy of taking care by Lucille Chamberlin, Pleasant View, Utah, USA  

watercolour by
Lucille Chamberlin

As a lover of trees and growing things, I really enjoyed this story. We have planted many trees, shrubs and flowers in our own yard. I have heard people say…”I want a yard that I won’t have to do anything to.” I laugh… if it’s growing it has to be taken care of and what a joy in life they are missing out on. Painting nature is always a challenge as we can’t compete with the Master… but it can be our own little world.   There is 1 comment for The joy of taking care by Lucille Chamberlin
From: c.keith jones — Aug 14, 2012

Very nice Lucille.

  A sacred experience by John Mix, Madison, WI, USA  

“Morning Fog”
oil painting
by John Mix

Any time spent among trees is well spent. My best days are those with paint in hand. The oldest living things on the planet as far as I know are upwards of 4,000 years old: the bristlecone pines. Thankfully no one is telling where the oldest ones are, although I could keep a secret in order to protect them from some crazed hahnyacker. I’ll never forget my pilgrimage to the ones in Great Basin National Park in Nevada. Nested on Mt. Wheeler there are bronze plaques on the ground that tell their age, some 3,300 years old. Merely some 30 ft high, their wizened, twisted trunks have been polished smooth by the dry sandy winds. Born long before the Caesars, they’ve seen and heard it all and still stand as living monuments to nature’s infinite wisdom. A sacred experience I’ll never forget!   The joy of hugging trees by Peter Brown, Oakland, CA, USA  

“Four Trees”
acrylic painting
by Peter Brown

My name is also Peter Brown. I would never claim to own a tree, but for forty years I have been paying the property taxes for the privilege of living under a number of remarkable trees. Two Coastal Live Oaks which are close to 500 years old, and a number of Coast Redwoods, Sequoia sempi verens, which were planted in 1910. I am a tree hugger. My home, the place I am sitting at this moment, was built in 1882. I live in the middle of a huge metropolis of 7.5 million people. I have chickens, and doves. I am humbly, fortunate. The redwood siding on my home is worth more than this whole place, as a property. I am not deaf. I do paint. And, I am very serious about art. I am more serious about saving this urban forest. All forests. My wife and I bought 34 acres up in British Columbia just to save that forest place. We love that place. I love making paintings. But, saving a hillside forest in British Columbia? That was an amazing thing to do. My heart is in two places. My best advice about painting a tree is to be one mile away. We need no tree portraits. We need trees. I am glad to share my name with another tree hugger lover. That puts sense to my own life, in some way. Besides that, I have two grandsons, growing up under these trees. I showed them how to hug trees. It feels good. There are 2 comments for The joy of hugging trees by Peter Brown
From: L. Redmond — Aug 14, 2012

I love this painting. Your home sounds amazing. Your story makes me feel contented.

From: gwen fox — Aug 14, 2012

I love your painting….nice colors and great design. Your home sounds like a wonderful retreat we would all enjoy. Keep hugging those trees young man!

  The lust to create by Pranay Mishra, Gurgaon, India   I used to be a painter who got convinced by the caring parents that there is not much comfort in being a painter, surely not in India. The last time I painted something was three years back; nowadays I just crunch numbers. But I have got this habit of compulsively collecting images that appeal to my sense of aesthetics. If I see some good paintings or photographs online, I just copy on my computer. If I travel, I keep taking snaps after snaps every other moment; may be, I have some ravenous lust to horde all that beauty or a latent wish so build a memory backup someday to paint again all the way to my grave. I have recently started a blog where I write some Haiku-like poems and some other stuff; I am not sure if the stuff there is any good but I am doing to satisfy my need to create something and save my sanity. There are 4 comments for The lust to create by Pranay Mishra
From: gwen fox — Aug 14, 2012

Pranay…Haiku is a wonderful form of creativity and I loved the ones on your blog. Our ability to create grounds us and makes us whole so keep creating.

As to painting….I bet when you start you won’t be able to stop because it will bring you so much joy. Perhaps you should start today!
From: rena — Aug 14, 2012


From: Pranay — Aug 14, 2012

Thanks Gwen and Rena for the encouragement; And Gwen,to your suggestion to paint, I say: amen! :-)

From: Anonymous — Aug 14, 2012

It is certain that you will be a painter.

  In praise of trees by David Lehmann, Menlo Park, CA, USA   Robert, I really enjoyed your comments about the trees. I live in California, where both the Sequoias and coastal redwoods are native. In fact I have 3 coastal redwoods squeezed in a back corner of our lot. Probably planted about 1941, they are only 5 to 6′ in diameter, and perhaps 130′ feet tall. One is pushing on the corner of our garage. Whoever planted them underestimated their vigor. We also have a deck I made of some salvaged 2″ x 12″ and 2″ x 14″ redwood boards. The wood is probably several hundred, and perhaps a thousand or more years old. Sequoias get more girth, Coastal gets taller. Wikipedia sez: The family is notable for including the largest, tallest, and stoutest individual trees in the world, and also the second longest lived species in the world: Largest – Giant Sequoia, 1486.9 m³ trunk volume Tallest – Coast Redwood, 115.55 m tall In the California parks where they have redwoods, it’s common to have a display of a cross-section of some huge tree, showing the rings. There are markers “Columbus sails to the new world” “The Magna Carta signed” “Birth of Christ” etc. on down to the heart, the center of the tree. I just got home from a trip in the Sierras, and hiked among some very old fir & pines. I agree with your quotation about “The emanation from old trees” They get rough, irregular, gnarly, lightning blazed, as they get really old — the wise ones, the persistent, the saints of the forest. When I walk past one, I touch the bark, and say, “You have been here all my life, and well before, and may be long after” in thanks and praise.    

Archived Comments

Enjoy the past comments below for Monument

From: Lynn Christine Nickols — Aug 09, 2012

Reminds me that here in Canberra, the political capital of Australia, a marvellous arboretum is being created. Some embassies are offering trees from their countries, to see if they will grown in our climate. There is a grand plan and I think we will be congratulated in another hundred years for this foresight. This city is already known for beautiful street tree plantings, but the future varied forest on a hillside overlooking our valley will no doubt be the jewel in the crown.

From: Dwight — Aug 10, 2012

When my father was in his eighties he saw a neighbor in his mid-nineties planting a tree. Dad asked what the small sapling was. The older fellow said it was a cherry and that he always wanted to have a little fruit coming on. Right, grow and plan for the future.

From: Gene Martin — Aug 10, 2012

You speak to my soul.

From: Patrice Federspiel — Aug 10, 2012

What a wonderful post, thank you so much! I was hoping for an image of the forest on a clickback and will make do with the lovely image you have painted within my imagination. Mahalo nui loa for reminding us to treat our art with the reverence it surely deserves.

From: Denise Bezanson — Aug 10, 2012

You couldn’t have touched on a topic closer to my heart. I have spent many many fine hours wandering through Redwood Park with my dogs, and even counting the Redwood Trees (over 100 the last time I counted, which was 5 years ago). There is nothing finer than to stand at the base of a tree and look upward communing with nature and enjoying the beauty. A trip to Redwood Park is really worth it. Most of the unusual trees have plaques that list the name of the tree. It’s truly a special park. The massive Big Leaf Maple in the field is also awe inspiring.

From: Russell McCrackin — Aug 10, 2012

It would be nice if EVERYBODY would remember to include the name of the State or Provence where these marvelous sites are located. I keep reading about paint outs, marvelous scenes, and activities at places like Redwood Park and Hazelmere Valley, but no mention of the State or Provence. PLEASE, remember to read what you write before sending it, with the attitude of “I’m reading it for the first time and need to know more.”

From: Paula Timpson — Aug 10, 2012

Silent forests dream of green life red trees huge as sky open up the muse to believe in heaven, one sees fruits bloom and become Love helping children create and ‘be’ is glory Silent forests dream

From: Doug Mays — Aug 10, 2012

“At the end of the day, It’s about what we do, what we’ve done and what we leave behind that counts”..

From: Sandy Essex — Aug 10, 2012

This is a beautiful letter. Thank you, Robert, for beginning the morning on a positive note.

From: Dora G. — Aug 10, 2012

What a wonderful story. Thank you for sharing these two brothers story. I love it when people with a handicap, turn it into such a great positive that lives on. Wish I could see the forest they planted.

From: Jude Scott — Aug 10, 2012

Ahhhhhhh……. Art is long life is short. Very true. Love your thoughts and thanks for your efforts!

From: Donna Marshall — Aug 10, 2012

I’m back on the open acrylic paints subject. Finally got to the states, live in Hopkins, Belize, where there is no place to buy art supplies and if you order them the customs duty is 20%, seriously. So I brought back a batch of these paints with the gel medium and it is really great. You can work with the best characteristics of acrylics and oils. Now I am having a local handyman make me some panels to work on. It is hard to find stretched canvases. It’s always something. Thanks for all the advise. Just to let you know we are reading your letters.

From: Carol Sachs — Aug 11, 2012

I grew up on a farm where I used to spend happy hours alone in a forest of huge old pine trees, the earth was spongey with pine needles and 60+ years later I am still transported back whenever I smell that balmy resinous smell of a pine. Those early years molded me into who I am today. Your letter took me back too. Curiously we have a copse of of giant Redwoods in our famous Garden Route indigenous forest here on the southern coast of South Africa, Trees are great ambassadors for world peace. I don’t paint nature, it would feel like capture and imprisonment ! I love your letter thanks Carol Plettenberg Bay

From: Lorraine Khachatourians — Aug 11, 2012

Thank you for this trip down memory lane Robert. I went to school in grade one at Hall’s Prairie School in the ’50s. My Dad worked at the Pacific and Peace Arch border crossings. I knew about the brothers because friends of my Dad had worked for the brothers every autumn, helping round up their pigs for sale. It was a mysterious story, these two men living on separate floors of a tree house, not speaking to each other. When Redwood Park was opened, that became a favourite place of ours to hike around. The tree house was intriguing and a bit scary to us kids. I credit that park with my life-long love of trees. What a wonderful legacy these eccentric brothers left. Although it has been close to 50 years since I was there last, it still remains a strong memory, a monument indeed. The concept of relating the planting of those tree seeds to the planting of our artistic seeds really resonates with me. There is constant cultivation of both required to reach maturity. It is a life-long garden of growth.

From: Norm Landucci — Aug 11, 2012

What a wonderful sanctuary. We all have them and are enriched by them.

From: Jonathan Wiltshire — Aug 13, 2012

“The Redwoods” – Joseph B. Strauss Here, sown by the Creator’s hand. In serried ranks, the Redwoods stand: No other clime is honored so, No other lands their glory know. The greatest of Earth’s living forms, Tall conquerors that laugh at storms; Their challenge still unanswered rings, Through fifty centuries of kings. The nations that with them were young, Rich empires, with their forts far-flung, Lie buried now-their splendor gone: But these proud monarchs still live on. So shall they live, when ends our days, When our crude citadels decay; For brief the years allotted man, But infinite perennials’ span. This is their temple, vaulted high, And here, we pause with reverent eye, With silent tongue and awestruck soul; For here we sense life’s proper goal: To be like these, straight, true and fine, to make our world like theirs, a shrine; Sink down, Oh, traveler, on your knees, God stands before you in these trees.

From: Lee fritch — Aug 13, 2012

I do reflect on the fact that I would leave behind some artworks as a legacy. I estimate that I have painted 3000 works…and one way or another most have found homes. There is some measure of comfort in that. And maybe 50 or so of the hundreds of adult students I have taught watercolor painting to, developed into serious “fire in the belly ” artists….which enriches their lives. And they will be leaving artwork as monuments. I thank God for my interest in painting…it is a challenging and rewarding thing to do. I did not have to make my living at it, thank goodness. I depended on a career as a Chemical Engineer to supply the shekels I needed to support a family of 5, buy art supplies and take workshops. I was able to retire at age 57…..and art has been pretty much my passion now for some 45 years. I fills my days. Painting and teaching give me a solid reason to get up every day…no guilt at all in spending so much time at what some would call a hobby.

From: Ann Davis — Aug 13, 2012

Yes, while creating, my mind goes into a state of tranquility, a sort of State of Bliss, a state of nothingness and everything(that’s on a good day of course:)…Time slips away…process becomes creation becomes art..inner feelings are manifested in the outer world for all to see….stillness….joy.

From: Ann Davis — Aug 13, 2012

While creating art, I slip into a transformational state, a State of Bliss if you will,,,time flows slowly…ideas are borne out of whole cloth and thought becomes manifested in creation. Do I create art or does art manifest through me?? hard to tell…we are one:))

From: Lisa Schaus — Aug 13, 2012

I just want to thank you Robert Genn and Elves. Beckett must be an Elf of course! What a lucky boy to have such a remarkable Grandpa. I among thousands it seems as this point in time, value our gift of receiving food for the joyous mind..from Mr. Genn! You are a blessing among us.

From: Maria Cavacos — Aug 13, 2012

I love receiving the letters . Each time one comes I am reminded of all the artists out there making this a more beautiful world to live in. At 75, after 50 plus years of “making art” I am happy that I was and am still able to create work which makes people smile….and am ever grateful that the young take joy in picking up a paintbrush or a mound of clay and produce THEIR view of the world ! Let that stream of creativity never end!!!!

From: Elaine Munro — Aug 14, 2012

Robert, when a friend signed me up to receive your newsletter, I was so thrilled! Your letters are so inspiring to read, because you always have something of interest that helps me in so many ways. Like the present one, about these young people. It shows that they have no hangups when it comes paint; they just paint with all the energies that are given them, and they seem to have a sublime message of complementary colours! I feel what is put on canvas has a message, on how they feel inside. Life has many different avenues for displaying ones feelings, and when you see a child at play, it is time to take notice, because it seems to reflect what the mind is telling the world…with paint, building sandcastles, whatever! These paintings are wonderful, and Beckett is growing in leaps and bounds, to follow in his Grandpa’s footsteps!

From: Sandy Graeser Haynes — Aug 14, 2012
From: Carol Weiler — Aug 14, 2012

Your letters are always inspiring. I especially loved this one and to see the joy on that little guys face-priceless! When do we lose that absolute fearless joy of creating? How do we get it back? And the belief in ourselves just because we “are”! Please teachers,parents,grandparents, caregivers, encourage creativity and expression of any type.

From: Caraleen Baker — Aug 14, 2012

Robert — your grandson is adorable! I myself know the rewards of teaching art to adults with developmental disabilities. For the most part the process flows free and easy for them. The beauty is that they have no preconceived notions about their art. Their visual expression comes directly from the heart.

From: Donna Gallant — Aug 14, 2012

I have taught art to special needs students for 15 years. They are the most wonderful group to work with. Intuitive, uninhibited and honest in their appoarch, expression and attitude towards art making. They are a real joy and inspiration to work with.

From: Ed Pekarsky — Aug 14, 2012

This is the most valuable and humanizing art site on the Internet. Thank you all.

From: Elise Nicely — Aug 14, 2012

My sister who suffers with MS lived with me for a few years and really enjoyed painting and using watercolor sticks. She had a wonderful eye for putting interesting colors together. She was able to complete parts or all of some paintings before she lost the use of her hands. She really enjoyed painting and playing with color.

From: Jane — Aug 14, 2012

I loved this letter which gives me, an inexperienced person with those who have Down syndrome, some insight about these gifted folks. Their artwork is wonderful and your grandson, by his picture, seems such a happy beautiful boy! Thank you so much for this article.

From: Linny D. Vine — Aug 14, 2012

Beautiful! And, in my humble opinion, the world might very well be a better place if we all had a little of the third chromosome 21 in our DNA. With joy, Linny

From: Jude — Aug 16, 2012

Hello Robert I was thrilled to read your article about the history of Redwood Park. Years ago I lived in the same area as you do, in B.C. and loved being in the park, although I never do it’s origin. Thank you for always bringing us such interesting and vital information! Blessings J

From: Peter Daniels — Aug 20, 2012

As a teacher of art, I realized that each student had their own over comings, so I found that encouraging the penmanship,(the unique individual’s style, like your hand writing, in this case drawing/painting) was the key to overcoming what we call learning blocks, by making it,(art) into play, doodle, then move it into the serious mode, I could reach 99% of my class. I was born with many disabilities, I had Polio which they arrested at an early age, but dept perception, and sports, my glasses were thick!

From: Caroline Planting — Sep 04, 2012

He is a sweetheart! How wonderful that you can share a pastime with him that is so meaningful to both!!!

     Featured Workshop: Laurie and Blair Pessemier
081412_robert-genn Laurie and Blair Pessemier workshops Held in Paris, France   The Workshop Calendar provides up-to-date selected workshops and seminars arranged in chronological order.

Solitary Fishing boat

oil painting, 16 x 20 inches by Carol Lopez, Vancouver, BC, Canada

  You may be interested to know that artists from every state in the USA, every province in Canada, and at least 115 countries worldwide have visited these pages since January 1, 2013. That includes Cynthia Folster Feth who wrote, “A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.” — Greek proverb And also ThreeRivers Arts who wrote, “The longest living tree is the Bristlecone Pine. The Giant Sequoias are the largest trees and the Coastal Redwoods are the tallest trees.” And also Aldo John who sent this quote, “I think that I shall never see, a poem lovely as a tree.” (Joyce Kilmer)    

Robert and Sara Genn Twice-Weekly Letters

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