As the magnolias bloom in California and spring approaches, there is not much time left to enjoy the bare trees. Nothing beats a naked tree. If I am to paint a successful portrait, I must understand the skull. Well, a painting of a tree also benefits from an understanding of the tree's skeleton. A tree's shape may appear random, but there is always a meaningful pattern. If I were to place branches just anywhere, I would never come up with a convincing tree. Yes, I prune trees in my garden and play god with their shapes. Yet, the same does not work on paper or canvas. I am always most satisfied with a tree painting if it actually resembles an existing tree. There is a beauty and dignity that I enjoy translating to the canvas. Just like a portrait of a person. So I will stop writing now, and go out to draw some trees!