Artist’s works rooted in her love of trees

By Lisa Burnett Originally Published February 10, 2013 at 12:00 a.m.
Updated February 8, 2013 at 11:34 a.m.
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PHOTO BY: Rusty Hubbard

Linda Williams Palmer’s exhibit, Arkansas Champion Trees: An Artist’s Journey, was originally inspired by a tree she calls the King of Keo, a Bur Oak she saw outside of the Lonoke County community.

Linda Williams Palmer

Linda Williams Palmer talks about what prompted her to start drawing trees. (By Rusty Hubbard)
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Linda Williams Palmer of Hot Springs has had a love of trees since she was a little girl. Recently, that passion has inspired an exhibit of her drawings of Arkansas Champion Trees.

The exhibit, which will tour the state, includes 18 large-scale color drawings, 18 small drawings and 18 photographs of the trees.

“I have always loved trees,” Palmer said. “They’re beautiful, and no two trees are alike.”

Her exhibit, titled Arkansas Champion Trees: An Artist’s Journey, was initially inspired by a Bur Oak she saw outside of Keo.

“About five years ago, I accidentally found out about the Champion Tree list,” Palmer said. “I had been out photographing this fabulous tree a lady told me about.”

Palmer then went to the head of parks and recreation in Hot Springs and told her about the tree she had seen.

Palmer later found out that the tree was on the Arkansas Champion Tree list. According to the Arkansas Forestry Commission website, the list recognizes trees, planted by nature or individuals, that are the largest of each species.

“I started looking at all the other trees on the list, all over the state,” Palmer said. “[Then I said], ‘I know what I’m going to do.’”

The King of Keo, the tree that “started it all,” inspired Palmer to put her Champion Tree exhibit together.

“This has been so much fun,” Palmer said. “I’m at a time in my life and my career that I can do this if I want to.”

Palmer goes on “tree hunts” to find these Champion Trees of Arkansas. She said there are around 160 of the trees across the state. Some of her endeavors have required her to seek the help of foresters from around the state.

“A lot of the trees I can’t get to without someone guiding me or showing me where they are,” Palmer said. “If I need help, I call the foresters. They have been absolutely wonderful.”

While she’s photographed only around 50 of the listed trees, Palmer is waiting for the weather to get a little nicer to go on more tree hunts.

Palmer didn’t start out in the art field; she studied vocal performance in college and started her art career in her 30s, when her children were in preschool.

She checked with Westark Community College in Fort Smith, which is now the University of Arkansas-Fort Smith. She started out taking one art class at a time and had to learn at her own pace because her family took up most of her free time. After taking the classes she needed, she made a career out of her love of drawing.

She now operates the Linda Palmer Gallery in Hot Springs. Her exhibit is currently at the Botanical Garden of the Ozarks in Fayetteville and can be seen there through March 9.

More information on Linda Williams Palmer and her art is available at www.lindawilliamspalmer.com. The complete Arkansas Champion Tree list can be found at www.forestry.arkansas.gov/Pages/ChampionTrees.aspx.

Staff writer Lisa Burnett can be reached at (501)244-4307 or lburnett@arkansasonline.com.

Online Reporter Lisa Burnett can be reached at 501-378-3887 or lburnett@arkansasonline.com.

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