As I (mis)understand it, it looks more like a Photoshop job.
Which abstract shapes (the space between trunk and branches, and between twigs and leaves, or)?
yes, the spaced between trunk and branches are the ones I'm trying to eliminate. Is this a job I need photoshop for?
I believe so, Christopher, for a managable effort, because to me it looks like a tree made as a raster image. In that case it is quite simple in PS, and unadvisable in AI.
But as Kurt says, it would be good to know.
Is that tree vector artwork or raster artwork?
Can you share a screenshot that shows it while being selected in Illustrator?
Also, which version of Illustrator are you using?