Dark Trees

A Typical Finnish Forest

Scots Pine

Scots Pine (2006)


Wintercourse (2002)


Muckross (2002)

Big House Big Tree

Big House Big Tree (2005)

In Finland trees are as plentiful as are rocks in County Kerry.

Finland is the most forested country in Europe. 70% of the landmass is covered in a seemingly endless carpet of pine, spruce and birch. The trees I have encountered here in Ireland, while less numerous, are more varied in species and individual in expression. Could a case be made that the trees of each country reflect the national character? The Finnish nation, like its forests, is homogenous, quiet, straight and pale. Like their trees, the Irish people are varied, expressive, curvy and colourful!

I used to know all the species of trees growing in Finland. Here in Ireland I have struggled to get to know the names of even a few of the trees I have encountered. The ash, for example, seems to morph itself into all kinds of shapes depending on the location and soil. There is a great variety of birches – maple, oak, linden tree and beechnut all grow wild.

Kerry’s warm climate allows for a fantastic variety of course: a visit to Dereen Gardens and Muckross is a must for all tree lovers!

In these paintings I have attempted to capture the individuality and drama of some of the trees in Kerry.

The painting Scots Pine depicts the tall pines and bright light of Killarney National Park.

Wintercourse shows the row of 13 Yew trees that used to grace Kenmare Golf Course. The winter sun used to throw great long shadows on the frosty green. Why these old trees were cut down remains a mystery to me!
Muckross and Big House, Big Tree are two versions of the same vista, one realistic, the other fanciful.

The paintings’ blue mountains, black shadows, and deep green tree shapes against the emerald grass sum up the elements of the Irish tree landscape that I have come to love.


{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Corinna May 30, 2011 at 9:37 am

Superb paintings … will go check them out properly at Cleo’s

Helena May 30, 2011 at 2:48 pm

Thanks Corinna. Helen’s shop has lots of treasures now!

Ann Jareckie May 30, 2011 at 1:34 pm

I am drawn to your painting of “Scots Pine” — especially how you rendered the beautiful branches. You must miss the forests of Finland — your photo of the stately pines have a regal quality. Whereas the trees of Ireland are familiar and comfortable and held in less awe — much as a friendly member of the family.

Helena May 30, 2011 at 2:53 pm

Thanks, well put Ann! I often thought the forests had a lot to do with the straight forward, simple style of Finnish Design…?

Helena June 3, 2011 at 9:36 am

Thank you for this. It makes me think of the trees of New England. So many species were wiped out by the ice age, Dutch elm disease, etc. Much of what we have now are species that were imported from China and other places in the 19th century – like the ginkgo, the mulberry, and the ubiquitous Norway maple and spruce. Maybe that explains why we are a nation of immigrants!

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