Tree Book Contributors

The Tree Who Walked Through Time

~ A Tree Identification Story

Many artists had particular inspiration for selecting their tree. Along with each artist’s biography you’ll find a brief description of why they chose the tree selected.


Lauretta Hendricks Backus paints from her studio in the country outside of Lawrence, Kansas.

“Redbuds are the first sign that spring is here and I look forward to them every year.”

Kris Barlow has been making and remaking things to decorate herself and her environment since she was very young. With minimal formal art training, she is naturally drawn to color, texture, line and form. Kris has spent her life learning and exploring traditional crafts and fine art, combining these skills to create art, both wearable and decorative that is whimsical, colorful and original. She has designed in many mediums from metals to fiber, though her latest love is quilting, long arm quilting for others as well as herself.

“I have loved maple trees since I was a little girl… mostly because it was a tree that I knew. It was easily recognizable to me. The shape of the leaves made it easy enough for a child to pick the leaves out of a pile. It had the brightest colors in the fall, we would collect the leaves and iron them between layers of waxed paper and hang them in the windows, like stained glass. But I especially loved those helicopter seed pods… a tree that comes with toys!

“And here is something I just learned… the seeds are edible. When cooked, they taste like a cross between peas and hominy. They can also be eaten raw or dried, and thrown in a salad. I will be trying these next spring. You might want to give it a try.”

Shelley Barnhill studied art at Southwest Texas State University (now Texas State University).Now living in Shelley BarnhillLawrence KS, she returns to painting after a thirty year pause to join her friend, Maureen Carroll, in this wonderful project of “the tree book.” Shelley chose to paint a close-up view of the sharp thorns of the locust as a contrast and counterpoint to the sensuous, smooth magnolia tree blossoms by Bobbie Powell.

“The locust tree is in my garden on Alvamar Drive where I have a love/hate relationship with it. The thorns have pricked me when I work in the garden. Can you find the drop of blood on one of the thorns? The tree is a female tree and drops many, many beans every fall that have to be raked up. But the tree shades the garden and the house from the sun and I like to watch the tree trunk change gray to green with the weather.”

Maureen Carroll is a graduate of the University of Kansas. She is a a writer and photographer based in Author & Photographer Maureen CarrollLawrence, Kansas.

“I love photography. I especially love to photograph children in action. The best pictures, to me, are those ones that are not posed, instead they capture for a moment in time the shining light of the inner self. This photograph of Sean under a large tree at Red Rock, Oklahoma, was Photoshopped to reveal just the lines of child & tree.”

Jack Cleveland is a web designer and application developer. He works with databases and server-side applications to deliver dynamic information portals over the web for the dissemination and collection of information. He has specialized in recent years in an area called “Content Management,” the primary purpose of which is to allow users to manage, secure and display information without having to know the underlying technologies.

The Fractals were generated in Photoshop using the Fraxplorer filter in Kai’s Power Tools 5 filter set. The LifeSprings fractal was created by visually exploring the progression of the Mandelbrot “Mandelcube” fractal set modified with a Julia set “Juliacube” variation, applying a Mosaic Bevel and a specific staggered gradient, in two layers. The top layer was manipulated using selective subtraction tools to provide visual access to the bottom layer. These layer were then enhanced using Photoshop styling tools.

“And fractals are only a part of it, but I DO get into reflection and modified repetition of patterns. I think that this relates to the cyclical nature of the patterns of our lives and nature and that learning to recognize these patterns as they change and fade but remain the same can be applied in both our social/psychological space as well as our physical world.”

Judy Graversen-Algaier was born in Grand Rapids Michigan, and holds a BA from Michigan State University. Starting out as an Art Teacher, she switched to a more portable career in advertising after marrying into the military. This began a series of fascinating moves across the US, Germany and the Middle East. While her emphasis in school was Jewelry making, her art interests cover a little of everything, from serious to whimsical in style. Her latest endeavor is using the natural stain rendered from boiling the husks of Black Walnuts, to paint detailed depictions of feathers featuring the birds of Kansas.

“I selected to represent the Black Walnut tree in this book because of fond personal memories connected to them stretching way back into early childhood. I remember picking up the walnuts on my grandfather’s farm, helping him shuck them, and marveling at the intricate patterns embossed on their shells. Then when opened – not only was there a delicious treat within, but yet another series of lovely niches, nooks, and crannies which stirred my imagination. Black Walnut trees offer so many uses from food and gorgeous furniture, to medicinal purposes – and coloring agents as well.”

Lisa Grossman is a painter and printmaker based in Lawrence, Kansas, whose work focuses on the open spaces and prairies of Eastern Kansas and the Kansas River Valley.

photo of artist Lisa Grossman
Lisa Grossman

Originally from Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania, Grossman earned an associate’s degree from the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and moved to Kansas City, Missouri in 1988 to work as an illustrator for Hallmark Cards, Inc. Grossman began plein air painting in earnest when she discovered the tallgrass prairies of east-central Kansas, and left Hallmark in 1995 to pursue painting full-time. She received a BFA from the University of Kansas in 1999.

 Grossman has had nineteen solo shows around the Midwest and on either coast. Her work is included in the collections of the Spencer Museum of Art at the University of Kansas, the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art in Overland Park, Kansas, and the Beach Museum of Art at Kansas State University, as well as in numerous public and private collections. She is a 2009 recipient of the Kansas Arts Commission’s Mid-Career Fellowship.  See more of Lisa’s work at

“I chose the persimmon because I’m a big fan of native plants, especially native plants that produce gorgeous and delicious fruits, especially ones that I can forage in our neighborhood! Over recent years I’ve discovered a variety of native persimmon trees around campus and Old West Lawrence and have harvested the fruits each September and October and freeze the pulp to make baked goods in the winter or persimmon butter. We now have a six year old Granddaughter of the giant persimmon tree on campus growing well in our front yard and anxiously await her first fruiting.”

 Stan Herd is an American Crop Artist. He creates images, or Earthworks, on large areas of land, especially in Kansas. His work is sometimes called Living sculpture. On his website you’ll find photos of his work and links to articles in both Smithsonian and National Geographic’s World magazine. One of these Living sculptures is an image of a white rose in honor of the Cuban poet Jose Marti that Herd created in Havana.

 Earthwork is the name of a 2010 film about Stan Herd and features his Countryside earthwork located in New York City. The film won at 18 film festivals in 2010.  See more of Stan’s work at

“Cottonwood is the original sketch leading to my New York Countryside image on Manhattan Island. The cottonwood tree grew near my bedroom window in SW Kansas and has always represented nature at its most beautiful to me.”

Paul Hotvedt is a practicing artist living in Lawrence, Kansas. He has taught at the Lawrence Arts Center and is a visiting lecturer at the University of Kansas. Hotvedt holds a bachelor’s degree in painting from Tyler School of Art and a master’s in painting from the Maryland Institute College of Art. He is also an organizer of interdisciplinary conferences, publications, installations and events that relate to concepts of place and community.  See more of Paul’s work at

“I chose the rough-leaved dogwood because it is a common native plant that is an unsung part of the tough landscape fabric by Kansas roadsides–and roadsides are where most people experience the landscape. It is very colorful and provides dense shelter for birds.”

Steve Howard is a Lawrence, Kansas based artist and musician. The Transformation Tree is oil on canvas.

Erok Johanssen is a Lawrence KS based mixed media artist. He currently works as the Director of Visual Erok JohanssenCommunications at SeedCo Studios and as a curator at Lost Art Space in Lawrence. A 2006 graduate of the University of Kansas, Erok became involved in the local art scene as one of the first members of the Fresh Produce Art Collective. With a background in graffiti and graphic design, Erok aims to blend the line between digital media and paint. He continually searches for new ways to blur the line that defines where the digital ends and where the paint begins.  See more of Erok’s work at and

“I chose to paint the Weeping Willow because of its energy. When the wind blows, its branches sway in a way that makes you feel the tree could uproot and walk away anytime. It appears to be breathing. Pulsating with life. Even when its branches hang stagnant the tree maintains a heavy personality. It feels sad. Slumped over in defeat as if it has lost its final battle and the reality of failure has just sunk in. It is the two juxtaposing personifications that drew me to the Willow. The Willow, like its human counterpart, is exited and energetic one moment, glum and lethargic the next. The Willow represents the emotional roller-coaster we call life.”

Rachel McLaughlin  is a graduate of the University of Kansas in Textiles and Art History. She is a mixed-media artist focusing on photography and textiles. Her work includes the “Postern Series” which is a Artist Rachel McLaughlinphotography collection of european doors and passageways, fashion textiles and weavings. She has been in shows/exhibits in Lawrence at KU Visual Art and Design Gallery, DOT DOT DOT Art space and Gallery, Anam Cara Gallery, Quintessential Gallery, Fresh Produce Art Collective exhibits, and Prairie Pond Studios. Rachel also freelances as a graphic design artist for various commercial industries where she specializes in print, web and branding. Her Apple trees are water color on watercolor paper.

“I chose the apple tree in remembrance of my maternal grandparents. When I was young my grandfather and I would take his old Ford model T truck to the orchards to pick fruit that my grandmother and I would then bake into pie. These were some of my fondest memories growing up. The apple tree reminds me of my youth and the loving times that I spent with two very special people. It is no coincidence that I chose the apple tree for it has been known to symbolize love, truth, beauty, honesty, romance and remembrance.”

Cathy Martin has lived in the Midwest Mountains and plains all her life. Her country environs are reflected Artist Cathy Martinin landscapes that include wildlife and realism. She is a mixed-media artist who enjoys sculpting and working in glass and rock. Her preferred medium is oil paint using photo reference to personalize for commissioned projects. See more of Cathy’s art at

“I chose the Oak tree because, for me, it symbolizes protection and strength. I love Oak trees especially in all of their fall colors. Their distinctive shape has always drawn me to them.”

Samantha Nowak was born in Nuremburg, Germany and grew up a military brat, moving around most of her Samantha Nowakchildhood. In 1998 her family was stationed at Fort Leavenworth, and since then she has lived in the Kansas City area. Samantha has been creating artwork since she was a child. At the age of ten, she declared she would be an artist, and in 2005 she graduated from the University of Saint Mary with a BA in Art, area of emphasis in illustration.

In 2008 She started her business, Samantha Nowak Illustrations, where she has done freelance work in graphic, webpage, and character design work, as well as illustration work for a children’s book, novels, and comic book covers. She also creates and sells her original artwork, along with teaching private art lessons and camps at Scrivners Creative Center in Leavenworth, Kansas. Peter Talking with the Cottonwood Tree & Peter Touching the Cottonwood Tree were both drawn in pencil, then scanned and digitally colored.  See more of Samantha’s work at

Bobbie Lyn Powell created the Magnolia tree using layered mixed-media. Bobbie is a graduate of the University of Kansas in Fine Arts. She can be contacted at:

Artist Bobbie Lyn PowellBobbie is a mother, painter, sculptor, collage artist and novice philosopher exploring the entanglement of our universal life experience and expression of love, using a variety of mediums, contrasting texture for viewer interaction. Bobbie has lived in Kansas her entire life and is a graduate of the University of Kansas in Fine Arts. Bobbie had a two month solo show in the Summer of 2011 and has shown her work regionally, including in Kansas City, Anthony and Arkansas City, KS. She created the Magnolia and Magic tree paintings using layered mixed-media including sand, pencil, pen and ink, oil and acrylic paint. Fast Asleep was created using colored pencil, pen & ink, & watercolor.

“Painting trees gives focus to our undeniable connection and codependency with nature. I danced with each brush stroke to mirror the body’s circulatory system to the tree’s branches.

“When I turned 27 I began to take joy from the color pink – where I had once loathed the color. In the same year I decided I was ready to become a mother – where I had once feared and swore against it. My new appreciation for the color pink drew me to the Magnolia tree. Painting the beautiful early-spring blooms is my way of giving thanks to God, nature, the universe and thanks to my sweet bright light, my daughter, Sophia.”

Ardys Ramberg, longtime Kaw Valley resident, has spent her life making visual representations of nature Artist & Vocalist Ardys Rambergand abstract thought with the use of color, metal, and music. Originally a Kansas City girl, she lived on a farm in the Kaw Valley as she attended Kansas State University, spent a stint in the Flint Hills, then returned to her river by moving to Lawrence, Kansas, a town that has fostered her creativity with its fine community and the kind of flora and fauna that surround her soul with the environment that it needs. See more of Ardys’ work at

“I chose the Ginkgo because it is the most ancient tree and has such unusual and beautiful leaves.”

Sara L. Taliaferro is a Kansas-born natural science illustrator and nature artist. She specializes in entomological and botanical illustration rendered in watercolor, pen and ink, carbon dust, acrylic, and computer-generated line and color. Her work appears in books and journal articles, and she exhibits in juried shows throughout the country. Shows include the Sonora Desert Museum in Tucson, AZ (2004); The University of Kansas’ Natural History Museum in Lawrence, KS (2008, 2009), The Haydon Art Center in Lincoln, NE (2009), and the Annual Guild of Natural Science Illustrators Exhibition (Fort Kent, ME in 2009; Raleigh, NC in 2010; Olympia, WA in 2011). Sara runs her own illustration business, Happy Beetle Studio. She is a member of the Guild of Natural Science Illustrators, currently serving as their Education Secretary. She is also a member of the Lawrence Art Guild. Sara holds a Masters in Botany-Genetics from the University of Kansas and a B.S. of Education in Biology from Mansfield University in Pennsylvania.  See more of Sara’s work at

“It is a particular honor to have my work included in this collaborative project alongside Kansas artists for whom I have a great deal of respect and admiration. We have a richly talented and inclusive art community here in the Great Plains, so it is with particular joy that I have worked on this project celebrating Kansas trees, knowing that I did so with other regional artists.”

Libby Tempero has deep Kansas roots. From McPherson where her great grandparents settled as pioneers and she was raised. Chance has now brought her to her home in Liberty, MO. Watercolor is the latest of many artistic outlets ranging from batik to stained glass. A class taken with the unconventional illustrator of moths, John Cody, opened a whole new world in the use of watercolor. It has taken this medium in new directions now including intense color.

The hope was that someday she would settle down and do something consistent but a restless heart has taken her from art to engineering, from sociology to biochemistry. She has long since passed that point and continues to try new things whenever the opportunities arise. She can be contacted at

“The tree chosen was the white sycamore. It can look very conventional as a tree but also very wild with not only the branches but even the trunk going any direction needed to survive. I also love that it sheds it old bark which has become too restrictive to reveal bark that is fresh.”

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THE TREE WHO WALKED THROUGH TIME ~ A Tree Identification Story at

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