How quarantine boredom turned this dead tree into striking art

Rob Burke was quarantining at his property in St. Peters Bay, P.E.I., earlier this year when he decided he needed a project and set his sights on a dead tree.

'As people were driving by I am sure they could see me in this tree'

Rob Burke says he decided on a 'sort of that bright reddish-coloured orange.' (Rob Burke)

Rob Burke was quarantining at his property in St. Peters Bay, P.E.I., earlier this year when he decided he needed a project — and set his sights on a dead tree.

Burke teaches in Ontario and came back to the Island in June. Due to COVID-19 protocols he had to go through 14 days of quarantine, and that's when he got a little bored.

"There was a tree in my front yard that has been dead for probably four or five years and I really didn't want to cut it down," Burke said.

"I thought, 'there has got to be something I can do with this.'"

He searched online and came across a tree painted by an artist in Colorado. So he decided the tree in his front yard would become a sort of canvas.

Burke says he has seen many people stop their cars at the end of the road and get out to snap a picture of his art project. (Rob Burke)

Before Burke finished his quarantine he prepared the tree for paint, he said.

"Roughly 50 hours of debarking this tree and sanding it down and cutting off various branches," he said.

After his self-isolation was over, he headed for a local hardware store, and told a store employee he planned on painting a dead tree.

"She gave me a bunch of options and we settled on a latex stain."

Burke didn't want to cut down the dead tree on his property. He ended up turning it into a canvas. (Rob Burke)

Next was the colour. Burke said the employee convinced him to choose a shade of orange — "the same colour of all the farm machinery that you see around, sort of that bright reddish coloured orange," he said.

The entire project took about 65 hours to complete, Burke said.

"I'd go out to this tree, it'd be like eight or nine in the morning. I'd come in to have maybe a snack at about one," he said. "And six o'clock would come and it's like — 'I've just spent eight hours sitting or hanging in this tree either painting or debarking.'"

Burke couldn't help wondering what the neighbours were thinking.

"As people were driving by I am sure they could see me in this tree."

With the painting included, the entire project took about 65 hours in total to complete, says Burke. (Rob Burke)

Burke returned to Ontario, but is now back on P.E.I. quarantining once again at his property in St. Peters Bay through the holidays.

"There has been tons of reaction," he said, since he posted photos of the tree on social media.

"I think it's had close to 700 likes and tons and tons of comments."

Many people have stopped by the roadside and grabbed their phone to snap pictures, Burke said.

More from CBC P.E.I.

With files from Mainstreet P.E.I.


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