Tree of Life at the Madroño Ranch in Medina, Texas

The completed mural, called "Tree of Life," in the main house of the Madroño Ranch.

The completed mural, called Tree of Life, in the main house of the Madroño Ranch.

I am very excited to announce the completion of a mural this past June that is my largest project to date.

After almost two years in progress, the mural, a Texas-style Tree of Life, is 20 times larger than the largest painting I have ever produced.

The mural was designed for the main house at Madroño Ranch, a working bison ranch and residency center for environmental artists and writers, nestled in the heart of the Texas hill country near Medina.

With two spring-fed creeks, mule deer, white tail deer, wild turkeys, gray fox and birds of all kinds, along with the bison, the ranch itself is an inspiration.

The concept for Tree of Life began three years ago, when the owners, Martin and Heather Kohout of Austin, approached me with the opportunity to design an image for a large wall in the great room of their ranch house.

The idea was to somehow make the room “more stimulating while at the same time feel more intimate and warm” and to develop this idea around the theme of a Tree of Life.

During the period of time that I was working on the painting, I had the opportunity to experience all four seasons on the ranch and each season had its own rewards. There were abundant varieties of wildflowers in the spring, ripe figs in late summer, rust colors in autumn and quiet grays and pale browns in the winter.

Most days that I worked on the mural I would begin work early in the morning and in the late afternoon, when the light was prime, I would head out to different parts of the ranch with a folding chair, a sketchbook, a pencil and a watercolor kit and worked open air to capture the details of the landscape which, in turn, informed the development of the painting.

I feel honored to have played a part in this environmental and community-oriented undertaking at Madroño. Perhaps the Tree of Life can be a springboard for thoughtful conversations about all aspects and forms of life.

Billy Hassell
July 2013