By Justin Gerard

I don’t know about you, but it seems that life gets crazy after the holidays. We just barely got everything cleaned up from that crazy party, and now we are all back to work juggling projects and putting out fires and starting fires and managing the day to day chaos of our lives.

In times like this I like to consider the trees. And today I’d like to share the work of one artist in particular whose paintings of trees are a long meditation in tranquility and calm. And I don’t mean the saccharine, sentimental dewdrops-on-a-thorny-rose type of artificial calm, but the genuine calm of being a kid again and feeling a warm summer breeze on your face and the soft brush of cool grass under your bare feet.

These quietly awesome trees are the work of Ivan Shishkin, a Russian painter from the 19th century working at the same time that Albert Beirstadt and Thomas Moran were in America. While the American landscape painters more often chose rocks and light in tumultuous, gigantic grandeur for their subjects, Shishkin chose simple trees, where he could study the play of light on a small scale. His landscapes make the common wonderful.

I cannot help but be a fan of both of these schools, but when life gets hectic Shishkin’s paintings of trees are some of the most tranquil and serene images I could ever ask for.