gardner family tree_small

Gardner Family Tree - 2002

Shippert-Young family tree_small2

Shippert-Young Family Tree - 2003

Don't let the small graphics fool you, for both of these family tree designs were 36" x 36" unframed (42" x 42" framed with double matting).

The paper used was 300 lb. Arches Coldpress Watercolor paper, a sturdy paper that maintains the viviidness of applied pigments and holds up well to corrective measures such as erasing and scraping. It also is a dense paper that doesn't warp readily with climatic (humidity) fluctuations. Being Arches, it also possesses a high archival quality with its rag content so that it won't yellow or deteriorate over time and exposure. The only minor drawback is its tooth... great for watercolor and pastel illustration, a little harder to create fluid lettering without the ink skipping over the roughness (a heavier pressure is needed to result in solid, consistent letter strokes).

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Hunt-Harry Family Tree_overall view

Hunt-Harry Family Tree - 1999

Hunt-Harry Family Tree_lower detail Hunt-Harry Family Tree_top details

In the Hunt-Harry family tree shown above, the client wanted several design elements included in this gift for his parents on their anniversary. The literal family tree featured had to be a dogwood; irises were to be coupled with the parents’ names at the trunk-level of the tree, and the parents’ parents had to be labelled below ground level... this would be indicative of both sets being deceased and representative as the strong “roots” of the family. The children and grandchildren were to be included in the leafy branches of the tree.

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Many of my clients prefer to use symbols and unusual graphic treatments within their trees to indicate various situations such as divorce, birth of twins, unknown parentage, and genealogical record tidbits (such as passport info). I maintain that one should be able to trace a family tree from a distance without too much confusion and with the help of these visual clues. I'll often indicate marriage with joined rings (divorce being separated rings), twins are indicated with the writing's baseline at a slant, country of origin is represented by flag icons, military careers are represented through illustrations of bars, ribbons and medals, and passport information is set inside bordered boxes so as not to blend in with the rest of the information given.

Center graphics can vary from a standard branched tree illustration, to a favorite flower or tree, to photographs and portraits, to other meaningful drawings of specific familial sentiment (depictions of coats of arms, houses, farm properties, and maps, for example).

The overall shapes of the tree chart itself can be square (as seen in these samples), circular (for smaller trees that only contain info on a set of parents and their children), or scroll or accordion bookform (for larger trees that go back four or more generations).

It usually takes me nine months to a year and a half to complete the more complex, generational family trees. I often will frame them myself, as well. There are times it takes me longer to accomplish a tree because the client sometimes needs help in researching in order to fill in the gaps. I sometimes offer to assist them in this matter. It is essential to have working knowlege of what is available through online resources as well as physical standards of information (such as Ellis Island, various churches and temples, genealogical books, bibles, marriage and death certificates, cemeteries, town histories, and reunion records).