Autumn Triquetra

Oil on canvas, 16″ x 20″


This place, deep within the forest, makes itself known to me every Autumn when the deciduous Maple and Hazelnut trees emblazon a bright saffron splendour, set off by the rich dark greens of the surrounding conifers.

The gentle sweeps of their boughs brings to mind the beautiful triquetra symbol,  

a trinity of intertwined vesica pisces shapes that evince the power of three in an unending intertwining Celtic knot symbolizing the birth-life-death cycle, or body-mind-spirit, maiden-mother-crone, father-son-holy ghost — and the infinite interconnectedness of all things.

The threesome prevailing here in the forest in Autumn is past-present-future. More than any other season, it is Autumn that makes me think of the passage of time. The frenzy and fecundity of Spring and Summer is over, their fruits evident all ’round us; now is the time to revel in the glory of harvest gold; and look forward to the quiet rest of Winter on its way.

Prints are available from my Etsy Shop:

Grandfather Stump

Grandfather Stump

‘Grandfather Stump’

Oil on canvas  24″ x 18″


Look at this gentle giant,

dead a hundred years ago or more

and still commanding such presence.

Ancient Cedar,

my Grandfather tree;

I often sit with him

and feel his calm wise influence.

Burnt and toppled,

worn away and hollowed out,

home to mosses and lichens,

fodder for woodpeckers . . . 

so many stories to tell.

First happening upon this enchanted clearing

where he stands,


a tangible hush descended as I entered.

There were scratchings on the forest floor all ’round

and I sensed wolf

(can you find the wolf hidden in plain sight in the painitng?)

I had recently had an encounter with a lone wolf

not too far from this place,

when one burst from hiding in dense underbrush

and chased my dog all the way home,

leaving me standing with my mouth hanging open

and my heart pounding!


~Barbara Brown, from upcoming Volume II, SYLVAN REFLECTIONS book




Oil on canvas, 24″ x 12″


Let me set the scene for you:

It was a winter wonderland of a world;

with fresh snow falling daily

bringing down that deep silence of deep snow at the dead of winter,

when the stillness finally reaches my bones and settles me.

And it was here that two enchantments happened,

to bring about this painting.

The first was a visit from White Rabbit.

One night when the moon was full and the forecast was for yet more snow,

I was up late savouring the depths of the winter night,

snug in our cabin with the woodstove stoked keeping us warm.

On my way to bed I opened our front door onto the night,

to see if the snow had begun to fall.

And there, motionless in the middle of the path,

was a pure white Snowshoe Hare,

in the pure white snow, in the moonlit world,

with fresh snow drifting gently down.

I was spellbound.


The next morning, I too went out snowshoeing,

into the pure white cold silent wonder-wrapt forest.

The day was heavily overcast, the snow still wafting softly,

the forest deep in its winter slumber.

Venturing off the path, I wandered deeper into the woods,

seeking further immersion in the wild.

I came to a place, under towering snow-laden Fir and Hemlock,

that invited me to stop and sit a spell.

Bundled up and warm, I snuggled into a snowy embankment,

and closed my eyes, better to soak up the stillness. I even drifted off…

upon opening them, and seeing with fresh eyes the profound beauty surrounding me,

I gazed over to my left to behold the second enchantment, this Gothic Gateway.

Beckoning. Enticing. Summoning. Thrilling.

And by magic the vision of the painting came to me.


…I remembered what the dormouse said…

call Alice…


Dare to enter


This is the Inland Temperate Rainforest, Slocan Valley, SE British Columbia, Canada


~Barbara Brown, from upcoming Volume II, SYLVAN REFLECTIONS, Wanderings, Paintings & Ponderings From the Forest 

A Wide Open Winter Wander

A Wide Open Winter Wander


‘A Wide Open Winter Wander’

 Oil on Canvas 12″ X 24″


This is the forest floor beneath the Cedar ‘Cathedral’ grove in my forest,
here in its deep winter slumber.

Its open nature draws me in; inviting freedom of movement and expansion of spirit.

Sense the clear columns rising high above.
Pristine snow adds to the spacious purity.

Follow the easy meandering path of the ribbon;
feel free to wander through this expansive open forest at your whim.


The trees are Western Red Cedar (Thuja plicata), growing to 130 feet and living to 1,000 years.
Cedars symbolize purity, cleanliness, sublime and noble loftiness, and immortality.
They are portals to sacred realms, dwelling places of the gods.

There are also a few White, or Paper Birch (Betula papyrifera) here,
who can grow to 100 feet tall but seldom live past 140 years, being relatively fast-growing and short-lived.


Also considered a noble tree, the Birch is symbolic of new life, renewal and rebirth.


~Barbara Brown, from upcoming Volume II, SYLVAN REFLECTIONS, Wanderings, Paintings & Ponderings From the Forest 


Cedar Intimacy

Cedar Intimacy


‘Cedar Intimacy’

Oil on Canvas 18″ X 14″


This image captivated me in the forest.
First, up close and personal,
I fell in love with the pretty surface patterns that
those intense green twinkling cedar frond fingers make
as they reach for the sun at the edge of a clearing on the mountainside.
Playful with its offering of beauty, she revels in her aliveness.
Then …I am invited to travel deeper;
to delve into the dark forest beyond the surface,
and there to be welcomed into the inner sanctum depths with, again,
a twinkle of sunshine.


And, as happens so often in my work, the oval comes to me,
with its soft feminine welcoming geometry
to help me to convey the feeling inherent in this offering. 


These are Western Red Cedar (Thuja plicata)
here in the Inland Temperate Rainforest.
They grow to 130 feet tall and can live for 1,000 years.

Cedar helps us to heal emotional hurts;
and it is symbolic of the pure, the sublime and the sacred.


~Barbara Brown, from upcoming Volume II, SYLVAN REFLECTIONS, Wanderings, Paintings & Ponderings From the Forest 

Cottonwood Spray

Cottonwood Spray

‘Cottonwood Spray’

Oil on Canvas 18″ X 14″


This spray of Cottonwood sparkles out
from the wall of conifers it nestles within.
Flaring like a burst of fireworks.
Feel the joyful energy radiating outward, demanding our attention,
calling out to us to notice it,
to appreciate its beauty as it dances in the breeze
…“Look at me!”

This is a Black Cottonwood (Populus balsamifera ssp. trichocarpa)
which grows to 130 feet tall but rarely reaches 200 years old.
It is the fastest growing tree in this Inland Temperate Rainforest.

Its seeds produce cottony fluff which First Nations people used for bedding.
In the Spring its red buds are thick with sticky resin called ‘Balm of Gilead’
which gives off a heavenly scent and makes a wonderful healing salve for the skin.

Its wood makes high grade pulp for quality paper.


~Barbara Brown, from upcoming Volume II, SYLVAN REFLECTIONS, Wanderings, Paintings & Ponderings From the Forest 

Dance of the Seven Veils

Dance of the Seven Veils

 ‘Dance of the Seven Veils’

Oil on Canvas 24″ X 20″

 Out walking, entranced and blissful through a brand new world of winter wonder
I came upon this graceful young Hemlock on the edge of the forest.
With her elegant drapery of freshly fallen snow I am instantly inspired to paint her,
and the words “Dance of the Seven Veils” appear in my mind’s eye.
Her substance hidden and her essence revealed somehow.

Returning home I do some research and find that,
in digging deeper, beneath and behind the more widely known biblical story
of Salome’s dance of seduction for the revenge upon John the Baptist,
is the older purer story of shedding the layers of ego,
of unveiling the true self hidden beneath.  
The seven veils of illusion, to be stripped away
to reveal the pure authentic essence that is at the heart of you.

Ancient mystics spoke of the Seven Veils of Mystical Experience:
Dream, Reason, Passion, Bliss, Courage, Compassion & Knowledge
based on the seven celestial bodies, themselves symbols of the soul.
The symbolism of the number seven is highly spiritual –deep inner knowing.
In Judaism and Christianity it is the number of completeness and perfection,
informed by God’s creation taking seven days.
In numerology a number seven person is said to be a lifelong seeker of spiritual truths.
It is a number that has fascinated us since the beginning of time
–7 deadly sins, 7 virtues, 7 chakras, 7 seas, wonders of the world,
colours in the rainbow, notes of the musical scale…
we have 7th heaven, lucky #7!
(by the way, feel free to count those seven veils in the painting in which-ever-way you so choose!)

What I see in the forest is her substance hidden and her essence revealed somehow…
with her pure white mantle, and her finery only glimpsed beneath.
Then as winter wanes and veils of snow melt away she will be revealed in all her finery
…graceful young beauty of a Western Hemlock dancing on the edge of the forest.


This is a Western Hemlock (Tsuga heterophylla), growing to 115 feet tall and
living up to 500 years here in the Inland Temperate Rainforest.

First Nations people used its boughs for bedding material and for its fresh scent.
Today it is valued for its high quality lumber.


~Barbara Brown, from upcoming Volume II, SYLVAN REFLECTIONS, Wanderings, Paintings & Ponderings From the Forest

Dancing Yew Sisters

Dancing Yew Sisters

‘Dancing Yew Sisters’

Oil on Canvas 20″ X 30″


This image had been simmering away in the back of my mind for years. Every day I walk by these two young Yew trees growing so gracefully (for often-so-straggly Yews!) down by the creek. They are about the same age and I feel sister energy between them. I imagine them sharing a long slow dance throughout the span of their long lives together straddling this little creek in the forest, and I’ve always envisioned an ethereal infinity figure-8 symbol swirling between them, enfolding them, and informing their essence and their relationship.


Looking deeper into Yew tree lore I find my instincts to be unerring, as Yew is known to be the Tree of Eternity. Remarkably, the Yew is singular in its ability to grow forever, endlessly renewing itself. It is one of the oldest known tree species on Earth, growing here virtually unchanged for at least 250 million years. It can change its sex as it needs to to propagate itself, or it can be both female and male at the same time. It has the uncanny ability to grow new shoots from seemingly dead branches, and drooping branches can root as they touch the ground. The word ‘Yew’ means ‘eternity’ or ‘to be touched by eternity’ or even, in ancient Gaelic, simply ‘God’.
Sacred to humans since the beginning of time, ancient Yews are to be found in nearly every churchyard in NW Europe and the British Isles—that is if the church was founded on a pre-existing pagan holy site, as so many were. Long before Christianity, the Yews were present and revered at all the old sacred sites where people gathered to worship. 


It’s the Western Yew (Taxus brevifolia) that grows in the forest here. It’s a conifer but instead of cones it produces red berry-like fruit. The bark is a smooth, deep rose-red with dark purple scales.
All parts of the tree are poisonous except for the flesh of the berries; although it is said that it was taken in ancient times for shamanic journeying. Today the potent breast cancer-fighting drug Taxol is derived from its bark.

The wood is extraordinarily dense, and indigenous peoples used it for tools, especially bows and staffs. I found two relatively straight fallen branches suitable for my walking sticks.

They are ancient ancestral wisdom keepers.


~Barbara Brown, from upcoming Volume II, SYLVAN REFLECTIONS, Wanderings, Paintings & Ponderings From the Forest

Fir, Soft and Thick

Fir, Soft and Thick

‘Fir, Soft and Thick’

Oil on Canvas Board 18″ X 14″


The healing of that greenness is palpable.
You can rest there within the depths of the green, and return refreshed.

Nuzzle into the lush verdancy.


The geometry of the oval brings to mind the feminine attributes of
softness and nurturing;
motherhood, protection and renewal.

Interior Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii var. glauca)
can grow to 130 feet tall and live up to 400 years.
There is, as well, the Coastal Variety of Douglas-fir which is much longer-lived and larger.

First Nations peoples used the tree extensively:
ate the seeds, drank tea from new shoots and needles,
chewed the dry sap for treating colds, and
used the soft boughs for bedding.

Today it is one of the most sought-after woods for lumber.


~Barbara Brown, from upcoming Volume II, SYLVAN REFLECTIONS, Wanderings, Paintings & Ponderings From the Forest

Grand Sweeping Spiral

Grand Sweeping Spiral

‘Grand Sweeping Spiral’

Oil on Canvas Board 20″ X 16″


A vital part of my daily practice of walking in the forest is stopping,
and sitting in stillness for a spell.
I will usually close my eyes, open my other senses, and meditate for awhile.
Then, when I come out of the meditation, upon opening my eyes,
the world around me appears brand new, with a new beauty and clarity.
It’s me, my spirit, that has been cleansed and renewed,
giving the forest surrounding me a fresh sparkle through my eyes.
And often it is at this moment that I will notice a particularly beautiful sight
that calls out to be seen by others as well…
This painting arose from one of these occasions.
I opened my eyes to be struck by the grand sweeping boughs
of this Grand Fir as they spiral through time and space
~ up & up and around & around in a long slow graceful swirling dance
as the tree winds its way through the years of its lifetime.


Tree Time

I recently read ‘The Overstory’ by Richard Powers,
a remarkable novel, about trees, that blew my mind wide open over and over again.
As the blurb on the back cover says: “There is a world alongside ours
–vast, slow, interconnected, resourceful, magnificently inventive, and almost invisible to us.
…the world of trees.”
It got me thinking about tree time.
We have a longing to communicate with the trees, and we have so much in common with them,
–both living, growing, procreating, dying; needing nourishment and a supportive environment,
and both upright vertical beings connecting Earth with Sky
– with the difference being largely in the respective timespans of our lives;
“they operate on a different scale of time”, their stories are told too slowly for us to hear.
“The chemistry of their roots and the perfumes their leaves pump out change when we’re near.
…When you feel good after a walk in the woods, it may be that certain species are bribing you.
So many wonder drugs have come from trees, and we haven’t yet scratched the surface of the offerings.
Trees have long been trying to reach us.
But they speak on frequencies too low for people to hear.” (my underscore);
and “…down in cool riparian corridors smelling of silt and decaying needles,
redwoods work a plan that will take a thousand years to realize.”


~Barbara Brown, from upcoming Volume II, SYLVAN REFLECTIONS, Wanderings, Paintings & Ponderings From the Forest

Stone Portal To Beyond

Stone Portal To Beyond

‘Stone Portal To Beyond’

Oil on Canvas 16″ X 20″


One of those dazzling days of early summer.
Sun so bright the shadows intensify accordingly.
Sitting in darkness under a tree deep within the cool dark shade of the forest,
looking up to see sun-kissed leaves reaching for the opening to light-filled sky,
I felt I could travel from the depths through that window and into the light.
This portal felt so strong, so dramatic, I thought stone might convey such substance,
and the painting formed in my mind’s eye:
a stone portal,
suspended in the air of the forest, mirroring the magic of the day,
inviting you to travel through the play of light and dark, 
up & away into the beyond.


Humans have always used stones, and stone circles, to mark sacred places, spiritual thresholds.


The leaves catching the sunlight are Douglas Maple,
a small tree or shrub, growing to about 7 metres, usually multi-stemmed,
and quite common here in the Interior of British Columbia.
Deer and Elk browse the leaves and twigs; birds and small animals eat the seeds.
Its hardwood branches are strong and pliable.
First Nations people used it extensively to make small items such as snowshoe frames, hoops, bows, tool handles, utensils etc.
The fibres of its inner bark were woven into mats, baskets and rope.


~Barbara Brown, from upcoming Volume II, SYLVAN REFLECTIONS, Wanderings, Paintings & Ponderings From the Forest




Oil on Canvas 14″X 18″


Into the dream…

With a swish and a swirl,
Swim yourself through
On a wish and a whirl,
Wind your way into
The green beyond beckons
Calling you home…


The leaves you see are mostly those of Hazelnut ~ a shrub symbolic of family happiness and abundance,
creativity and inspiration, divination and protection.
Considered to hold ancient knowledge, when eaten the nuts will heighten awareness and grant wisdom.
Hazel wands are traditionally used to gain knowledge, wisdom and inspiration; to further the art of communication; and to enhance energy.
Today, scientists tell us these nuts are excellent food for brain function.

The forest is the Inland Temperate Rainforest in the Interior of British Columbia, Canada, the only one of its kind on Earth.
It is a wet belt resulting from weather systems, laden with precipitation from the Pacific Ocean almost 500 miles away,
rising over the coastal mountains and sending down a lot of snow and a fair bit of rain
when they come up against the heights of the Columbia and Rocky Mountain ranges.
It is a lush and diverse ecosystem, boasting a huge variety of species of trees, mosses, ferns and lichens.


~Barbara Brown, from upcoming Volume II, SYLVAN REFLECTIONS, Wanderings, Paintings & Ponderings From the Forest

Graceful Elderberry

Graceful Elderberry


‘Graceful Elderberry’

Oil on Canvas Board 18″ X 14″


I was thinking I’d like to paint a simple, single spray of leaves, bright with sun shining through them.

But while looking for this, I instead came upon by surprise, and was enraptured by, this charming Elderberry.

It captured me, so I thought to paint a simple spray of its sunlit leaves,

but after sitting with it in the forest, taking it in, letting it take me over,

I realized that a single bough wouldn’t portray what it is that has caught my eye

~ it’s the graceful curves of its whole being that must be painted to

express the beauty that I see.

Then I had to find a way to convey what I feel seeing this image:

what I want to bring forward and what I want to push back;

how to draw you in;

how best to bring out the tree’s lovely expression of its lovely character;

and how it is moving, growing, dancing through space and time in the forest.

I find the answer in the elderberry-blue ribbon, tracing those graceful curves that captured me, and drawing you into the dance.


Blue Elderberry (Sambucus caerulea) is a shrub or small tree,

6–12 feet tall, found in the mountainous regions of southern British Columbia.

It is symbolic of rebirth and regeneration. It rapidly regrows broken branches and will take root and shoot up anew from the smallest fallen

fragment, a faculty critical to its survival as Bears take down branches and gorge every year on the bounty of sweet elderberries hanging from their long smooth slender branches.

A staple food, and delicious, dried for use throughout the Winter by First

Nations people.

Elderberry is an excellent immune-system support, especially helpful in

the prevention, and treatment, of colds and influenza.


~Barbara Brown, from Volume I, SYLVAN REFLECTIONS, Wanderings, Paintings & Ponderings From the Forest, Page 45

Birch Bursting Forth

Birch Bursting Forth


‘Birch Bursting Forth’

Oil on Canvas 14″ X 11″


This is a magnificent Birch tree, over 7 1/2 feet around at its base,

growing right up close to our cabin where it thrives on the extra

rainwater that funnels down to its roots from the roof.

With my morning coffee, at the beginning of every day,

I sit and gaze into its stately exuberance for life.

In summertime sun, its leafy green abundance

shimmers in the lightest of breezes.

A whole world of birds lives way up in its obliging canopy,

barely visible to us, earthbound below.

Its lower limbs welcome hammocks with open arms, and

its shade provides wonderful cool respite on too-hot days.

I bask in its sheltering presence, and its benevolent beauty inspires me.

It seems to burst forth into the sky realms from its deep nurturing rootedness,

so I thought to paint it emerging from the graceful, egg-like oval shape

symbolic of harmony, protection and completeness,

motherhood and renewal.


Paper Birch or White Birch (Betula papyrifera) can reach 100 feet tall;

they are fast growing and relatively short-lived, rarely exceeding 140 years old.

They are common in moist, cool ecosystems.

First Nations people used the bark extensively for baskets, canoes and other containers.

The sap was used as a tonic.

The wood makes top-quality firewood.

Called the ‘Noble Birch,’ the tree is symbolic of inception and renewal,

being the first in the forest to put out new growth in the Spring.


~Barbara Brown, from Volume I, SYLVAN REFLECTIONS, Wanderings, Paintings & Ponderings From the Forest, Page 35 

Mistical February

Mistical February


‘Mistical February’

Oil on Canvas Board 12″ X 9″


~ moody brooding dusky gloaming ~

An afternoon in February ~ already turning to dusk in the forest.

The darkness comes much sooner in under the trees.

It’s a magical time

~ the most likely of times to catch a glimpse of an Old One

as colours and shadows all deepen and intensify around you,

on a dark winter’s day like this one,

with the mists rolling down the mountainsides

~ such beauty in these rich brooding purple- and deep green-greys.

They awaken a yearning within me; I know not from where it comes, a longing to be wrapped in these mists and

surrender to the soft, cool mystery they bring.

It is said in Celtic lands that what the Faeries call themselves is

‘The Old Ones,’ or ‘The Old People.’

Mythical beings, magical creatures, elementals, wizards

~ through the veils of shifting mists and in the deepening shadows of a day such as this, when the clouds descend and enshroud the mountainsides,

it’s easy to believe the romance and mystery of the otherworlds.


This is the Inland Temperate Rainforest, part of the

Interior Cedar-Hemlock Ecozone.

When mature, the forest is dominated by Western Red Cedar and Western Hemlock. It includes a wide variety of tree species: Douglas Fir, Grand Fir, Larch,

Mountain Hemlock, White Pine, Lodgepole Pine, Engelmann Spruce,

Ponderosa Pine, White Birch, Cottonwood and Trembling Aspen.


~Barbara Brown, from Volume I, SYLVAN REFLECTIONS, Wanderings, Paintings & Ponderings From the Forest, Page 77