Fiddlehead Sough Usher

 




 

 

 

 

 

 

Stop in the woods on a windy day, become still inside, and the sough—the rushing sound of wind blowing through trees—becomes a chaotic symphony. This nature spirit guides the sough, makes music of it whether or not anyone is there to listen.

At 5 feet tall and 3 feet wide, it’s the largest and most complex so far in the Spiritus Naturalis series.


 

 

Fiddlehead Sough Usher is also the first wall piece and the first to contain a found object—the fiddle.

Which was stripped down and taken in a more organic direction: the tuning pegs became leaves; the strings are wild and fluid; the straight bow was replaced with a curving tendril; its surface looks like translucent leaves in a tree canopy.


 

 

 

 

The paper skin of the trunk has earthier coloration, while the branches flowing down and away have a feeling of wind and sky. The tendrils—the sound element—are more densely colored, punctuated and rhythmic.

 



Garden Seed Usher

 




 

 

 

 

 

 

At 6 feet, Garden Seed Usher is the tallest of the floor pieces yet in the Spiritus Naturalis series. It stands between earth and sky, conjuring and guiding seeds into the ground.

Its upper reaches are cool blues and whites with flecks of yellow sun.

 







The lower middle is a whirl of seeds of increasing size making their way earthward. The colors overall suggest a wild, vivid garden already in bloom. Or perhaps the garden to be?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It roots are brown tones, immersed in earth, completing the spectrum from sky to earth.

A branch-inspired series: Spiritus Naturalis

Walk in the Wild
 

 

 

For me, a studio series starts naturally after I’ve been focused on other creative endeavors for a while. I return to the artistic nest ready to embrace a lingering new material or aesthetic direction, open to what serves the exploration. It’s an unabashed act of optimism, knowing from experience that the initial endeavors may well be backtracked, reconsidered, perhaps jettisoned as the gist of the work emerges.

It’s an exquisite arc from adventurous curiosity to starting a new artful family—fueled by showing up daily and leaning into the journey of tasks inherent in a practice of making. I count among my gifts a romantic’s fondness for the beauty of honest labor, and a monk’s inclination to stillness: listening, watching, inviting.

Walk in the Wild is the lone survivor of the earlier explorations for this new series, Spiritus Naturalis. I wondered at the time if this new direction would evolve into works that don’t emit light, and for now it is so. 

 

 


Spiritus Naturalis: Cloud Usher

 

 

 

 

 

While turning the compost pile, I stood holding the pitch fork upright. Looking through the tines to the sky beyond, I imagined a nature spirit flying about, guiding clouds to where they ought to be.

The intermingled earthier tones of the lower end suggest a creature related to land, while the cooler airiness of the upper resides in sky.

 

 

At 8.2 feet, Cloud Usher is the tallest piece yet in the series. 


 

Spiritus Naturalis series: Winter Sky Leafelope

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Winter Sky Leafelope is the second piece in the series with a floating, leaf-shaped landscape.  

Here the plane evokes sky with a pair of leaves comprised of numerous leaf-shaped clouds. Besides its antelope-like stance, there's an antler piercing the clouds, fading to lighter, bonier tones. 

 

 

 

The legs are of earthier, richer colors, with watery tendrils coursing through, cycling the sense of movement back up into the tree-like antler.

Spiritus Naturalis series: Cloud Garden Leafipede



 

 

 

 

 

This is Cloud Garden Leafipede, the first of the Spiritus Naturalis series to embody a landscape floating in midair.


 

All of the earlier pieces in this series have tendrils intertwining with madrona branch forms, but in this one the tendrils are separate, ending in leaf-like clouds that cast shadows on the mobile garden/leaf plane.

 

 

 

 

 

Cloud Garden Leafipede is 42"L x 26"H



Spiritus Naturalis series: Tidepool Waven

 

 

 

 

 

 

Making this piece reminded me of how much I love creating things that, despite their actual stillness, refuse to remain so in human perception. 





 

 

I love the flocks of choices in arranging and rearranging materials toward gestural aliveness. Beyond the roughing-in and refining of the flow of the form, I work with paper banding on the surfaces to set up sequences of color and density, adding a pulsing quality.


 


 

 

Tidepool Waven is both a crustaceous form and the waves coursing through it. This piece feels like a sibling of Surf Sylph.

29"H x 42"L x 16"D

Spiritus Naturalis: Surf Sylph



     

 

 

 

 

 

Surf Sylph stands offshore, its legs in the cool water, ushering the force of water and wind meeting land. 

With a crustacean feel in form and color, it reminds me of unusual, colorful tide pool creatures.

It's ideally a tabletop piece at about 30" tall.

 


Spiritus Naturalis: Wildfire Wraith




 

 


 

 

 

 

At about 68" tall, Wildfire Wraith has a human scale. Its black and while-speckled, yellow, orange and red upper elements reach into blue-flecked sky like a crown fire.  

  

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For all the terror of an actual wildfire, this phantasm seems a happy one: dashing about, spreading smoke, sparks, and ash with its whip-like tendrils.

Spiritus Naturalis: Bog Sylph


 

 

 

 

 

Having just gotten some peat moss for the garden, it wasn't a big leap to see this creature at home in a peat bog, given its stouter stance and earthy colors. Its main tendril seems lasso-like in form, but intelligent, curious, erotic and perhaps fatal to prey.

Sometimes it seems very still, yet ready to leap into action. At others, like it's in motion already.   

  Bog Sylph is 45" tall.