At Vancouver’s 2011 Bienniale.

At Vancouver’s 2011 Bienniale.

At Vancouver’s 2011 Bienniale.

At Vancouver’s 2011 Bienniale.

Konstantin Dimopoulos painting trees blue in Seattle.

Seattle’s blue trees (in progress).

Seattle’s blue trees (in progress).



Why Seattle's Trees Are Turning Electric Blue

You probably don’t notice the trees in your city. But you’d notice if they were gone. And you would definitely notice if they were all blue.

Over the past few years, trees in Vancouver, BC, and Auckland, New Zealand, have turned blue. Now the same thing is happening to trees in Seattle. It isn’t some strange virus or fungus; it’s part of an art project intended to make people more aware of the trees that surround them.

The idea for the Blue Trees project came to Australian artist Konstantin Dimopoulos in 2003 after a visit to Friends of the Earth in Australia. "One of the people had just come back from Southeast Asia, and he showed me images of these forests being cut down. He said it would be great if we could somehow get this incredible devastation on the front pages," explains Dimopoulos.

The Blue Trees project aims to get trees, which all too often fade into the background of cities, noticed by everyone. In each city where the project has been installed, Dimopoulous turns clusters of trees an electric blue with a kind of paint that washes away in the rain. The artist says that the paint is not hazardous.

The latest project, which will see 56 trees painted in Seattle’s Westlake Park and Burke-Gilman Trail, is currently being installed (you can see the in-progress trees in the slide show above). The reaction thus far has been positive, says Dimopoulous. "Mostly people look at this and they love the blue. It’s actually quite intense and beautiful. We’re doing this to get people to say, 'Wait, what’s happening?'"

After Seattle, Dimopoulous is bringing the project to Florida, Boston, and London. "All I’m doing is raising a flag," he says. "I am for sustainable forestry, but there is sustainable and managed forestry and then there’s ecocide."

Manfred Kraus Photography

Add New Comment


  • Daniel

    Goose, you're an idiot. He/she isn't talking about FastCo being lazy. Tjkp43 is disparaging quasi tree huggers who pretend to care about the environment. 

  • Tjkp43

    I live in Oregon we have TREES everywhere. I love them. I certainly dont need them painted Blue to SEE them. I think this is just another lame excuse for so called treehuggers to unite. If you care so much about your trees. Move to Oregon, Montana, Utah, Washington.


  • Luke Keller

    While I couldn't disagree more with Tjkp43's statement concerning "lame excuses for so called treehuggers to unite" (see:science), I don't think painting trees in Seattle raises any kind of awareness about trees being cut down thousands of miles away. In fact, it could be argued that painting these trees strips them of their natural beauty and trivializes their plight by turning them into nothing more than a canvas in need of human "art."

  • das Goose

    And you have totally missed the point. FastCo isn't known for long articles, so it's not laziness. Other explanations aren't kind.

  • meta

    umm, trees "breathe" through their bark. if you cover the bark in paint, unless its some kind of thin water based paint. you will kill the tree.  that is why if you paint a ring or cut a ring of bark from around a tree trunk, everything above that point will die. Any basic forest ranger could tell you...really stupid.

  • Cernenus

    you fail at reading. " with a kind of paint that washes away in the rain. The artist says that the paint is not hazardous."

    They have been doing this for several years, if they were hurting the trees they'd have figured that out by now.

  • Farukh Mirza

    Great idea....sometimes we never notice things that matter...surely a nice way to be aware of nature and the role it plays in our survival....would be nice to see it happening in Sydney 

  • Mark Duran

    Beautiful. I own a forest but  throughout the region Southern Pacific Railway is clear cutting the forest. Apparently we gave them millions of acres to harvest for railway ties. Bankrupt of ideas and unwilling to actually run a railroad, they're clear cutting every other square mile of land in the Trinity Alps in northern California. Unlike Clarity-Jane Seer (below), I say that anything that gets people to think about trees and clear cutting is worth pursuing.