In the Spotlight with Linda Palmer
Photography by Sara Reeves | Hair and Makeup by Nora Lawrence | Clothing from Grand Lagniappe
Each Champion Tree of Arkansas proudly serves as the finest specimen discovered throughout the state, as designated and registered by the Arkansas Forestry Commission. The majestic presence of a Champion Tree often represents more than a century of Arkansas history unique to its setting in time and place.
Renowned Hot Springs artist Linda Williams Palmer was so impressed by these magnificent trees that she embarked on an unexpected adventure; one of great gratitude and artistry. Comprised of colored pencil drawings, the Arkansas Champion Trees series is Linda’s interpretation of each tree through the lenses of season, location, history and humanity.
Her journey and love affair with these trees carried her more than 15,000 miles across the state – from Fayetteville to Helena and the Ouachita Mountains – and produced 26 portraits of Champion Trees of Arkansas. She collected oral histories of each tree from families and communities in a journal that inspired her book Arkansas Champion Trees: An Artist’s Journey, as well as the award-winning Arkansas Educational Television Network’s documentary Champion Trees. Drawl Southern Contemporary Art Gallery is hosting a personal book signing opportunity in conjunction with an exhibit of the original drawings of the Arkansas Champion Trees series showcased in Linda’s book.
Linda shared her inspiration + love of nature with us…
Inspiration for Linda’s artwork + book came from the Arkansas Forestry Commission, its list of Champion Trees of Arkansas and her adoration of the natural world. “I discovered the list and knew immediately I wanted to find the trees, photograph them and create drawings of them – I never dreamed it would lead to a four year traveling exhibit, an AETN awarding-winning documentary and a book about my adventures.”
The most memorable moment during her adventures was the chance to encounter the Champion Bald Cypress. “It’s the largest tree on the list and considered ‘the largest living thing in Arkansas’ – we waited two years for the flooding covering the cypress knees to recede before visiting it, as I wanted to incorporate this unique feature in my drawing of the tree. What a day!”
The idea for the book developed around lectures and presentations she prepared for civic clubs. “With the images of my drawings and the journal of my journey, much of the work was already done. It represents not only art inspired by nature but also the merging of art, nature and history.”
“My love and reverence for trees continues to deepen. It is my privilege to honor and pay homage to these majestic Champion Trees that God has abundantly bestowed upon this earth.”