Plants & Trees

I took advantage of the most recent photo challenge to shoot some more translucent shots of the fall foliage. We have one tree that is always the last to hold onto its leaves. When they change it happens over about 3 days and then they are all gone like in a flash fire of orange. Timing didn’t work out well with the challenge to get that coloring, but I am happy with the muted colors I did capture.

I ranked 20th, falling behind similar shots of trees with more vibrant foliage. I could have walked another 20 feet to another tree with vibrant leaves, but the light play of the sun was much more pleasing on the first tree. My intuition even let me know that if I didn’t shoot a traditional fall colors photograph for the challenge I couldn’t win. With the next challenge theme up, it’s on to the next one!


Catching translucent light in leaves has proven to be much easier. While the snake plant is in front of natural light, these fern leaves show my usage of a high intensity flashlight. A fill flash even when used remotely does not produce a great effect. Typically I rely on light filtering through tree branches to create a mottled light that would illuminate the subject (seen here). I am working to maintain a naturalness about the images and prevent any formal appearance or staging that could interfere with the integrity of my art. When I view a deliberately crafted photograph, I lose touch with the actual moment because it all looks just too perfect. So, I try very hard to maintain the realness quality. I have two more sets in the study to share with you. Please let me know what you think so far. I would love to know your thoughts on translucent light, spiritually or artistically.

Translucent Study © 2012 NATE METZ

Life Lessons Learned

After reading Pam’s guest blog, a lot of emotions got stirred up around trees. My life is going through a series of rapid changes, and as I cope and adjust as best I can, I visualize myself as a tree firmly grounded yet bending with the wind and change of seasons. So, I’d like to open up more about why trees appear so often in my work and provide a wider context to my work. My intuition is pushing me to include this information as part of my evolution as an artist.

Journey of the Fall © 2012 NATE METZ
Journey of the Fall © 2012 NATE METZ
Trees are very important to me because of the found memories of climbing trees when I was younger (okay, even just last year!). Whenever I picture my happy place it is always in a forest surrounded by beautiful trees. In recovery, my earliest interpretation of a higher power was The Tree of Life. My spiritual journey has taught me the interconnectedness of our lives and symbolically the tree connects the below, the here, and the above … the past, the present, the future. The symbol of the tree goes much deeper, repeating the connecting branching patterns in many areas of nature and appears in most every religious faith. Trees also continue to grow through their entire lifetime, adding a new growth ring each year, always growing.

So what lessons have I learned from trees about my artwork?

I wrapped up my class: Cultivating Collectors with the Art Biz Coach one week ago. I’ve spent the last week reflecting on what I learned in the class (a lot!) and how it dovetails with many other life lessons I’ve experienced in recovery. I honestly believe that what I learn in recovery is much bigger than just sobriety and what I learn in art is much bigger than the work. These lessons are the trunk if you will, rooted in a history and collective wisdom, and then branch out into other areas of life.


  1. I can’t do it all. I can’t do it all alone. I can’t do it all right now. But, start somewhere. Start now.
  2. Practice gratitude daily.
  3. Make a plan. Set goals. Write action steps. Reach for my dreams.
  4. Connect to other people. Find the common ground between us.
  5. Recognize my accomplishments. Honor and reward myself.
  6. Ask for help when I need it.
  7. Enjoy the process. Enjoy the journey.

Thank you for sharing in my journey. I’ll have the next set of my translucence work up soon!

For The Love of Trees – GUEST BLOG

The lovely tree, glorious and humble all at once.

For millions of years, the tree has been the most relevant plant on our planet. Whole species have evolved and survived among the protective embrace of its branches, peoples have worshipped it, and societies have thrived on its gifts of food and shelter. However, in the last 200 years just in the United States, our society has launched an all out war on one of the very elements of our own survival. Systematically destroying millions of acres of forest and cover for industry and development, we have disconnected from an anchor in our own evolution.

In my introverted childhood, I would seek out the comfort of trees to calm my mind, to escape from a turbulent household, and to claim great unknown adventures. The quiet friendship offered to me by trees has shaped me as a person and as an artist.

Some of my most cherished memories include deeply inhaling the thick smell of pine during a summer day at Cape Henlopen, witches noses and monkey balls, fresh apples, the mane of the willow my husband and I were married under, climbing under the branches of a Magnolia tree in Georgia so old my mother and I were able to stand underneath it, Dr. Seuss’s “The Lorax”, falling out of a treehouse my brother and I built, climbing to the very VERY top of the same tree within a few weeks and hiding from the taunts of a neighborhood boy, so many more that it breaks my heart to think that not everyone knows the same kind of love I have for trees.

The Tree 1 © Pamela Slaton

“The Tree 1″ was an attempt at honoring the very living thing that breaths with us. Every branch was painstakingly rendered, line by line, in several colors to reach the reddish brown of its bark and each cluster of leaves burnished and layered many times. It is by far my favorite piece, and has become a signature image for me.

As I finished the drawing, the weeping cherry trees along my road began to blossom. It was intoxicating, and the flowers were of such an exquisite beauty, I nearly wept. I took hundreds of reference photos, but they barely captured the delicate and ancient glory of thousands upon thousands of flowers suspended overhead against the clear blue sky.

Cherry Blossoms © Pamela Slaton

Cherry Blossoms © Pamela Slaton

The process of drawing this will be long and difficult, with each mark on paper a step back into the moments that served to form me as an artist. I hope with every day that conservation is not left just to the people like myself, but to everyone, because everyone benefits, everyone and everything’s survival depends on the survival of the trees.

About our guest blogger:

“Completely self taught, I have only taken a high school art class. Through many years of reading, experimenting, and practicing, I have taken the humble graphite pencil, charcoal stick and colored pencil, as well as other mediums, and learned to create beautiful portraits and illustrative drawings. What I enjoy most is how often the personality of the subject can be read through a portrait. A certain smile or glance, how one sits or holds their head, among other things, are all subtle ways the subjects individuality comes through.”

To learn more about Pamela:

Website: Expressive detailed portraits and art in graphite, charcoal, colored pencil and mixed media
Facebook: Portraits and Art of Pamela Slaton

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