Why Trees?

“If you want to draw trees, you need to get to know trees.” – Harold Goldfus

Chicago Skyline by Jason McInnes
Chicago Skyline by Jason McInnes

It’s been a few years since I decided that I wanted to take my drawing seriously.  A challenge that I have in life that not a lot of people know about is that I have a great deal of negative self talk and enough anxiety to necessitate some medication.  I write that only to say that I’m determined not not let all that get it my way. Standing up to that challenge has had it’s successes and failures over the years. I keep trying to show up and only do what I can do.  


During the summer of 2017 I attended the 8th International Urban Sketchers Symposium, which was held in my hometown, Chicago, IL.  It was the first time being part of a large group of art-makers like this, and I found that it freed me in a wonderful way, but also put me in a situation where some of that negativity could rear its head.  I made this drawing as part of that experience. I drew this sitting at the feet of the John Alexander Logan Monument in Grant Park.


Later that afternoon, during a break, I showed this picture to a man I only knew by reputation, Harold Goldfus.  I had seen his drawings on the Chicago Urban Sketchers Facebook page many times and I admired his work. He knew my name from some drawings I had also posted on Facebook.  He said, “Oh! Jason!” which made me feel very special.


He said that he had seen some of my drawings and enjoyed them.  He asked to see my latest drawing and I showed him this one. He said that he thought it was very good but he could tell that I didn’t know how to draw trees.  He said, “If you want to draw trees, you have to get to know trees.”

I assume he didn’t realize how important these words would be to me.  I’m a lifelong learner and I took it as a challenge. Yes, I was get to know trees. 

“How to Draw Trees” by General Pencil

 It just so happened that I receive this collection of pencils and an instruction booklet as part of the sponsor bag at the Symposium.  Fortuitous! I got right to work.





I started making this book.  This is one that I gave to my friend Rob.  




I have a second one and it looks like this.


I ended up spending a great deal of time last summer getting to know trees.  The more I thought about it, the more I realized, “You know? My whole life is about getting to know trees.   Trying to figure out how the world works and organize it into some kind of life outlook for myself.”

That’s where this site comes in.  I create a great deal of work and have all kinds of different projects, but I started getting frustrated that they were all in separate places online.  How can I see who I am if my music, photos, students work , drawings, skateboarding videos and thoughts about life, are all scattered all over the place?  I want them together, just like they are inside me. I want to see myself learning to draw trees by getting to know trees in all aspects of my life.

Thank you for taking a look and a listen.