Blue Tree-Shallow and Valiant

 K. Kauffman, Blue Tree, ink, 20”x16”, 2023

Blue Tree is an ink drawing that I created in 2023. It consists of hundreds of tiny ink lines that show a broad expanse of a blooming tree. Inspired by a huge walnut tree at the Seattle house (where I grew up), I depicted a shallow root system.

Although the black walnut reaches a majestic one hundred feet into the sky, it is completely dependent on rain for nourishment. How could such roots near the surface offer the necessary ballast to hold the tree aloft? The tree’s underground system must be very widespread. In 1962, Typhoon Freda blew through Seattle, packing up to 115mph winds. Yet, the black walnut survived that and many other windstorms in its eighty plus-year life span. It is truly a marvel.

During past emergencies in my life, when I have felt as though I were tossed by a tempest, with the deaths of family or friends, my inner resources, figuratively my root system, have held me up. Because I live alone and family is thousands of miles away, I sometimes wonder if my “root system” is strong enough to withstand all of life’s difficulties. So far, somehow, I’ve managed to stay resilient with help from professionals, friends and family (who I visit several times a year). 

I feel a kinship with the black walnut tree who is the first to lose its leaves in the autumn and surrenders into a long winter’s slumber. In the spring, it’s the last deciduous tree to burst forth in new green leaves. I’m a fan of sleep, relaxation and meditation, enjoying all three each day. The black walnut and I agree: rest is best. Perhaps this is the way we build our stamina so we can face trauma when it arises. 

Blue Tree has a central lavender core. I see this as an inner pillar of strength that the tree and I both harbor. It was important to depict these colors and forms as visually real because that is how I feel them within me. I chose to color the black walnut tree with blue and lavender because, to me, these colors denote serenity and the innate spiritual power of a soul at dynamic rest. These are qualities I revere and seek to attain for myself.

2024 February 14th – 18th Kaethe Kauffman’s ink drawings of trees will be featured in the large art fair, Art Wynwood at One Herald Plaza, Miami, Florida. The Walter Wickiser art gallery in New York City is sponsoring the booth at Art Wynwood that is exhibiting Kauffman’s drawings. See more of Kauffman’s work at

Photo: See Kaethe Kauffman's art in Miami at Art Wynwood 2024. Click here for more info.