Earth Dance 2019

Earth Dance 2019

My participation in the Earth Dance 2019 environmental art show is to continue to work on the Farley Tree Project.

small3The tree is a 10 foot trunk of a fallen oak tree.  After some planning, we settled on using carved vines to divide the tree surface into distinct panels that artists can use to create pieces that fit the title: Rooted in the Land.

Outdoor art is a challenge on several levels.  The weather limits when work can be done.  Even so, after stripping off the mark and making a grid on the trunk, I was able to transfer the vine drawing onto the trunk. Then began the work of carving in the vines.  This process is about half way done. I plan to have all the vines finished and painted by the onset of winter.

birdsOn testing the tree for the quality of the wood, I discovered that one of the areas is relatively soft.  This lead to idea of attaching woodpeckers at that level.  I chose Red Headed woodpeckers for two reasons. They are native to Wisconsin and tend to like to roost in the standing trunks of dead trees.  The other reason is that these birds are declining in their population. This is thought to result from the smaller number of available dead trees left standing on private property.  The other reason is that these birds will sometimes chase after insects right into traffic.

staiining

Woodcarving often uses products that are not environmental.  So I created a stain for the red heads using beets and beet greens.  The black color is from soaking steel wool in vinegar.

I am working on developing a good green color, but that has not as yet been successful.  I have collected some walnuts and want to create a brown stain from those.

 

 

vines1

The tree itself is sealed for now with a coating of linseed oil.  It will be interesting to see how the colors weather.

 

There are plenty of panels available if you would like to participate in the project.  Here is a link to the simple application. Artists Proposal

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Wooded Home – Sanctuary 2017

Wooded Home

 

At a rental cabin up north we noticed peculiar birds climbing down the trees – the nut hatch.  That family like mine found rest and security in our woodland homes.

We had rented a hillside cabin for a week’s rest.  It was a rambling house set into the hill. The owners appeared to be bird lovers as there were a number of feeders off of the deck, hanging among the trees.  A variety of birds came and went, along with one very acrobatic squirrel.  But the birds that caught our attention were small ones with pointed beaks.  What was unique about them is that they were usually looking downward as they climbed in the trees.  We learned that they are nut hatches, whose unusual view of the world arises from looking for food from the top down. They find what other birds do not see.

It seems as if the human family in our temporary home, perching on the hill, had much in common with the nut hatch family outside our window.

I have taken a piece of found wood from where I live near Nine Springs in Madison, because it had a large knot suitable for a nest.  I gathered some dry grass nearby and constructed a nest from it.  The nut hatches on the piece are stylized, but I am trying to capture their jaunty pose.

The challenge of this environmental art project is the finish of the piece.  Wood is natural, but often wood carvers use paints and stains that are unnatural and even possibly toxic.  So then I have used mineral oil to seal the pieces, natural stains where needed, and used hidden dowels and a milk based glue to attach the nut hatches to the piece.  The challenge is also the charm of this kind of art; I expect that the piece will age somewhat quickly on location.  Art again follows the course of nature and all things.

We find sanctuary together, not divided.

“The Seer” – Advent Show 2015

I have finished “The Seer” in time for the show at Bethel Lutheran Church in Madison.

The concept was to think about the long hope of the ancient Hebrew believers.  This is the head of a prophet.  Another word for prophet is “Seer”.

I think of this as Isaiah, because we read so much from Isaiah in the Advent Season.

For to us a child is born,
    to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
    and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.  Isaiah 9:6 ESV

The prophet sees in the distant sky a star, representing the hope for redemption.  His white hair and beard show that the wait was long.  The star prefigures the Christmas Star found in Matthew 2. And I like to think of the Magi, star gazers, as being on the other end of the message.  The Seer lives in hope and the Magi set out on a journey of discovery.

Here are some images of the process of the carving.  I used a method of shallow relief. The wood is butternut.  The piece is 27 x 17 inches and about 3/4 inch thick.  I left the living edge because the wood itself has a story of growth over years and bark for enduring the elements.

Here is the final result

Paint.3

 

 

Advent Art Show at Bethel Lutheran Church – Nov 29 into Janurary

I have been thinking about a carving that suggests Hope in Advent.  I went through a lot of very complicated iterations until I hit on the idea of the Prophet as Seer, looking into the night sky to see a special star.  The prophet will have a long lyrical beard, suggesting time.

In the Eco Squared Show – Hatch Art House

ecosqI submitted two carvings to the Eco Squared show at Hatch Art House on Willy Street here in Madison.  The art is to contain upcycled or recycled elements. I took some of the wood I received at the Urban Forest Fest. This is a slab of wood cut from an Ash tree that was knocked down by a tornado.  Ash us a very strong and fibrous wood, not typically used in carving. I discovered that it can be carved while it is still green. In hardwoods, it counts as green for the first year or so.

The two pieces I submitted are an ash branch showing fall colors and the second is of the emerald ash borer.  The irony of the insect is that it is quite a lovely intruder as bugs go.

Fall in Ash     Ash Invader

Showing at Hatch Art House starting January 9. Opening reception January 9 from 6-9pm.