"Perpetual Care" by Chester Arnold

Sonoma painter Chester Arnold is on the quiet side, but he’s an interesting guy.

Born in Santa Monica, the son of a career soldier, Arnold spent most of his childhood and adolescence in post-World War II Germany.

“Munich was a great city to grow up in,” he once told me. “It’s full of art and history. There was a built-in contemplation in that life, or maybe I was hard-wired to be contemplative anyway. I was thinking about mortality while my peers back home were watching ‘Scooby-Doo.’”

Arnold’s contemplations focus on the natural world in his current exhibit, “Chester Arnold: Trees,” running through Sept. 9 at the Sonoma County Museum, 425 Seventh St., Santa Rosa.

These large-scale paintings show not only beatuful landscapes, but burnt-out forests as well.

A longtime art professor at the College of Marin, Arnold won national attention six years ago, when he and his students painted, from photographs, portraits of some 2,000 U.S. soldiers killed in the Iraq War.

The Sonoma County Museum is open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday.

Admission: $5-$7; free for children under 12.

Information: www.sonomacountymuseum.org. (707) 579-1500.