By the late 1950s Hitchens had begun to use freer, bolder brush marks in a more pared down overall design to give his paintings more punch. In general terms, this tendency, ever further away from naturalism towards greater abstraction, was to continue for the next two decades right up to his death. But this did not mean that he was any less involved in the experience of nature, which remained the indispensable source of his inspiration. Three Trees, for all its purely painterly, calligraphic brio, is about a specific moment in a specific place and about three trees, each very different from the other: it was painted in front of the motif - the thing seen in constant dialogue with the thing notated.
The painting was at one time owned by Howard Bliss, who was as much an evangelist as a collector of Hitchens. Through his kindness and enthusiasm, the Art Exhibitions Bureau was able, in the 1950s and 60s, to draw freely on his collection to tour a varying group of up to fifty works in all genres throughout the UK and, in 1961, in the main cities of Australia.