Bonsai California

Paintings By Alan Tarbell



Bonsai California
Juniperus Occidentalis I

When I think of going for a walk in the woods, I get excited. Nature is the ultimate inspiration for me. While hiking through the forest, my camera becomes a filter to compose a glimpse of something timeless but transitory.



It is an incredible spectacle to move through this living ecosystem that has evolved over millennia. Too often we take this for granted in modern society.

Growing up in Northern California I   feel fortunate for my exposure to old growth forests such as the Giant Sequoias, Bristlecone Pine, and Sierra Juniper. These trees are living histories that give us so much insight into a world that is far beyond our comprehension and so much greater than us.

Through science we can explain important elements of the trees and the forests of the world, but even still, we sometimes lack the ability to see the connection to this ancient ‘root’ of our planet. Indigenous cultures the world over, have cultivated this relationship since the beginnings of humanity. Unfortunately much of that knowledge is lost or dismissed in our modern world. Ancient cultures have a reverence for what has survived and thrived for a time we cannot really understand. These conifers represent a grace through adversity. Their ancient history sheds light on the wisdoms available to us here on Earth.


There is wisdom in the trees.

Sequoia Sempervirens
Juniperus Occidentalis II



















These paintings of California Conifers are intimate portraits of trees I have come across in the wilds of California. My painting process is infused with memory, texture, layers, vitality, color and movement. Through this series I hope to portray a tree’s unique and persevering character, inspiring awe, and veneration to the point where one might feel a close enough kinship to want to help protect their habitat.

Pinus Contorta


Bonsia California
Pinus Jeffreyi II


















Additionally, I hope these trees represent a beacon of hope and resilience across the challenges to our own survival. This becomes especially important during these very trying times: of sickness and desperation, of division and upheaval, of dramatic and catastrophic climate change….


Juniperus Occidentalis III


These trees have survived many fires and droughts over the millennia. This has helped to forge their character and growth. Fire is a great destroyer, but equally it is an essential element of renewal. May their majestic presence inspire us through reflection on their odyssey as we also persevere towards better days ahead, helping us to see the depth of the forest and ultimately becoming stewards for their future preservation.


Bonsai California
Pinus Longaeva I
Pinus Longaeva II
















California’s Native tribes have traditionally maintained the forests through periodic prescribed burns to enhance their productivity and facilitate passage. We must inherit these wise practices so our modern world can re-habilitate our connection to these living and beneficial ecosystems. Only this will make it possible to prevent catastrophic fires that devastate these sacred landscapes and the surrounding communities.


Pinus Jeffreyi III
Pinus Monticola


Bonsia California
Pinus Jeffreyi I



Click on images for purchase information


5% of sales from these paintings will go to the Karuk Tribe’s Wildland Fire Program ( as they look to rebuild and promote eco-stewardship through integration of tribal wisdom practices. 


Alan Tarbell




















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