APPLE TREE (PRUNED) 30″ x 24″ 2010
An old apple tree grows in the garden across the fence, next door to where I live. The tree is close to my studio which is on a lane that runs behind the houses. Some distance back from the tree there is, or there was, an old garage, painted blue.
The house has always been rented. None of the tenants have ever cared for the tree or gathered the apples. Over the twenty years that I have lived on my side of the fence, the tree was never pruned. It became densely tangled with branches. In the summers a gardener would come in his truck once every few weeks and cut the grass under the tree. When the apples fell he swept them up.
One day, early in the spring the year before I made this painting, I looked through the fence and saw that almost all of the upper branches of the tree, a forest of wood, had vanished. On the ground below, like a reversal of nature, all of the branches that had been the apple tree were now laid out on the ground, detached from the tree, spectacular limbs cleanly cut at one end, reaching out across the ground in subtle arches, spreading and multiplying from one joint to another.
The pruning had happened earlier that day. The gardener had departed leaving the scene as I found it. I stood on the back steps of my house balancing a heavy drawing board and drew this scene with pencil. The long contours of the branches scattered across the grass was an inescapable subject for a drawing of lines.
Almost a year later, in February of 2010, I began this painting, working from the drawing. By chance shortly after I completed the painting the blue garage was demolished. I happened to look out just as the end wall, the one partly visible in the painting, was collapsing under the blows of a front end loader. Now after two more years the apple tree has grown back with a wild mass of new branches, all shooting upwards. This summer it was weighed down with masses of fruit. The tenants still do not gather the apples. By August the gardener, a new gardener, could be seen seen collecting them from the grass with his rake.