“What a magnificent tree!” Those are the words I uttered the first time I really saw it.
It was 1998 and our family was looking to move to Brentwood, Tennessee. The corner where it stood in front of the beautiful Brentwood Library was a plot of land I would pass many times in the years that followed, since we ended up living just a few blocks away. As I rode my bicycle under its limbs or read a book in its shade I would think, “I must paint this tree…” but raising my boys and running my business kept the desire to paint an old tree low on my list of priorities. The day would finally come when I would have the time.
In July of 2010, the tree dropped most of its limbs and died. It was the last gasp from its core – the city had been making herculean efforts to save it for over a year. Our family was driving back into town after being away, and seeing the fallen giant was a “stop the car” moment. With a lump in my throat and a tears in my eyes, I knew then that the painting had to happen.
The first attempt was a small watercolor. It turned out that I used it as a study for what was to be a much larger acrylic on canvas. I wanted the painting to be an accurate rendition, since the Bur Oak had a unique and recognizable shape. It ended up taking a few weeks – I painted over
the original figures and repainted them at half their size to accurately convey the incredible breadth and height of the tree.
I had the work finished in time to be part of my display at a local art exhibition in November of 2011. During the show a member of the library's Board of Directors purchased a print of the tree, which set off a series of events opening the doors to the painting finding it's way to the library's walls.
The Brentwood Library Board purchased the painting in January of 2012. It hangs near the reception desk in the main reading room. My heart is warmed every time I see it, because it is exactly where it belongs.
In Memory of the Brentwood Library Bur Oak
The beloved Bur Oak that stood in front of The Brentwood Library is gone,
though it lived for around 330 to 380 years.
It shaded Indians and Civil War soldiers, provided centuries of shelter to wildlife,
and children played beneath its boughs.
Its massive size made it a breathtakingly beautiful landmark.
I have attempted to preserve its majesty in this painting.
To own your own image of this magnificent tree, go to