The Blowing Tree from the exhibit Gallery Artists XXI

Walter Wickiser Gallery, New York and online at

Art: "Blowing Tree" by artist Kaethe Kauffman
Kaethe Kauffman, The Blowing Tree, 20”x28”, Ink, 2023

Trees spend their lives in one place. And yet, in a tree’s solitary existence, enormous experiences occur. Weather bakes it or floods it. Insects invade. Sap rises and falls. Chemical messages from other plants flow through the air and underground. The tree grows or becomes ill.

A tree contains an intriguing duality. Because it’s impossible for humans to remain immobile for a lifetime, when I contemplate what that must be like for a tree, I’m amazed. While frozen in position, its inner dynamics are fluid and vital. How can I draw this reality? Although much of a tree’s interior life is hard for people to see, I draw the intense energies I sense in a tree by making it appear as though wind blows through its branches. I feel great satisfaction in the image. I wonder if there’s a deeper reason for my joy.

This duality of calm and busy wind in a tree is a potent symbol for my meditation process. When I’m still, I feel like a tree, grounded and stationary. When thoughts cross my mind and I want to grasp them, to leave my quietude, to jump up and solve a problem, I feel as though a wind is blowing inside my head. The imagined sensation of wind can disturb me or it can compel me to stay steadfast, as does a large tree with deep roots. Remaining committed to meditation, I can allow a thought to drift away in the breeze. In this way, my image of a tree in the wind inspires me.

I draw many colors in the tree because each hue seems to be a separate thought, some short and some long, that arise and fall, one by one, in my contemplative state. Moving air gives me a sense of mental spaciousness. When I attain serenity, I luxuriate in the gap between each thought, an empty luminous area, sacred to meditators. I feel anchored in this new reality, stable as a tree.

The Blowing Tree is part of a group exhibit, Gallery Artists XXI at the Walter Wickiser Gallery in New York, available online in its entirety at June 20 to September 20. See more drawings and links to the exhibit at Kauffman’s website at