forest magic

Photographer Ellie Davies lives and works in London, and her series “Smoke and Mirrors” is her first solo exhibition in the U.K. She has a unique photographic style that evokes thoughts of fairie tales, with mystic paths and haunted places.

Ellie Davies, Come With Me series 

In looking at her work, one wonders how this is done?  In these technological times, it looks like Photoshop work, done with filters or paints on the computer. It is not.  The pathways are made from paint, powder, wool, and paper, and actually are created within the forest.

Ellie DaviesEllie Davies, The Gloaming series

I expect to see tiny winged figures creeping out of the woods to dance in the moonlight.

Ellie DaviesEllie Davies, Knit One Pearl One series

Maybe this is where we’ll see Gollum sneaking around, leading Frodo into a spider ambush.

I aim to express my experience of spending long periods of time alone in the forest, sometimes at night – the absorbing and meditative kind of heightened awareness that comes from silence and stillness. – Ellie Davies, from an interview with FAD, a London based art website

Davies often sets up her photos in an isolated forest location.  She enjoys investigating her surroundings and playing with alternative landscape formations.


art of the land

It’s September, and the Fall art season begins.  I have been accepted into a show called Art of the Land, held by the Land Conservancy of McHenry County. Since its inception in 1991, The Land Conservancy has been active in helping to protect over 1800 acres of our local prairies, wetland and woodlands.  This is their third annual Art Show & Benefit.

September 23 & 24
Hosted at The Starline Gallery in Harvard, IL
Tickets:  $20 in advance, $30 at the door
Friday:  Sept. 23  6:30 – 9:00 PM  will include “Voices of the Land,” a coffeehouse-style showcase of poetry, short videos, original music and storytelling by local talent
Saturday:  Sept. 24 6:30 – 10 PM Art of the Land Amateur Photo Contest entries will be displayed and winners announced that night.
Former DJ, and Woodstock Realtor, Rick Bellairs will reprise his groundbreaking, early 70s radio program Crossroads – he was playing “Classic Rock” before anyone else in the area!
Food from Duke’s Alehouse & Kitchen, plus drink & fun!

See more information:  On Facebook,  on The Land Conservancy Website

If you scroll back to my blog entry on August 23, you can see the first element of artistic process for some of my pieces . . . collecting art materials from nature.  My kayak becomes loaded down with bits and pieces collected from the water.  The next step is unloading and drying at home.

driftwood by linda oefflingdriftwood drying, alongside my lavender on the patio

Some of the wood, in fact, all of it on this particular trip, was sitting on the mucky bottom of a lake.  I let it dry completely in the summer heat on the patio stones before bringing it inside.

Raven by Linda OefflingRaven by Linda Oeffling

Here is a finished piece, one that I probably will feature in the Art of the Land show.  There are a couple of influences at play here, one being a gallery called Raven’s Wish, where I have several items on display.  This gallery is one of my favorites; I am so proud to be featured there, and I would love to be able to buy from every artist there as well. The raven is also a strong element in Native American mythology, and so I tried to give this piece a Southwest feeling.  Raven’s Wish captured my imagination with their “About Us” statement:

What might a raven wish for? Wide-open spaces…colorful and shiny baubles…never-ending updrafts…days full of adventure. -Alicia Reid, Owner, Raven’s Wish


flower power

Take one colorful bloom, and expand into parts, and you have a powerful photograph with a very graphic quality.

Qi WeiGerbera Exploded #1, Qi Wei

The artist notes:

“…what is interesting to me is how much more expanded some flowers can get when they are disassembled – the relative surface area to size of a rose is so much greater compared to a larger flower like the sunflower.” -Qi Wei

Because he captures the image immediately after disassembling, the colors and textures are fresh.

Qi WeiChrysanthemum Exploded #1, Qi Wei

“Exploded Flowers” is just one series of photographs that Qi Wei exhibits on his blog. He also has a series titled “Inversion”.

Qi WeiInversion #01, Qi Wei

I love my computer and my Adobe graphic programs, so I do enjoy when artists employ computer arts to expand their craft. Photoshop offers a way to take photographs a step further, or sideways, or upside down. In Inversion #01, he took a long exposure at night, converted the image to black and white, and then inverted it in Photoshop.

moss and wood

I love to find other artists who like to make things using materials from nature.  Mr. Lentz makes some pretty unique creations, and has an interesting blog as well.

Mr. LentzNatural Weathered Wood and Moss Briefcase, Mr. Lentz

He lives in Colorado, and is a photographer as well as an artist and woodworker. He has an Etsy shop where his art can be viewed and purchased.

Mr. Lentz, pendantAll Natural Wood and Moss Necklace, Mr. Lentz

The moss used in his jewelry has been dried and preserved. The wood is stained with walnut husks – no toxins here, and it is such a beautiful finish. After staining, it is treated with flax seed oil to give it a subtle shine and pleasant smell.

Mr. Lentz, pendantsNatural Materials and Wood, Mr. Lentz

The first pendant is made of rooster feathers.  The second is elk hair.  I don’t so much love the hair thing, but I think maybe it would be cool to have one made with some of your horse’s mane or tail. Or some of your favorite pet’s fur?  I think I’ll have to put this artist on my list of favorites.

more shopping for artistic things

I found this business card in my stack of visited places & art shows.  If you go to the Of Nature Website, you can see the detailed, copper-clad little nature masterpieces.

ofnatureOak Leaf Pin, 2.25″ $48

Gordon JamesGinko Pendants, 1.25″ for $35

Gordon JamesFern Earrings, 1″ for $30

Each tiny work of art is an actual item from the woods, carefully preserved and coated in copper. A patina (chemical that reacts with copper to change color) is applied to the metal.   Patinas are hand mixed, then layered to achieve the desired result. Ofnature also has an Etsy shop, making it easy to purchase.

a little time in paradise

I recently spent some time up in Northern Wisconsin, taking kayak and tent to spend some time in a beautiful place. We have gotten pretty good at it — sleeping on an air mattress helps, as does the gourmet meals and regular trips to town for ice, wine, and ice cream.

french toastHot coffee, french toast, cherries cooked down with a little sweet wine

On this trip we saw deer coming to the lake to drink the cool, clear water,  as well as eagle parents and a juvenile who swooped overhead several times.  My camping companion saw otters clambering through the mud to feast on the plentiful fish. Unfortunately, I missed seeing that, being on another part of the lake.  We stalked the same place the rest of the trip, but did not see them again.

bald eagleBald Eagle.  Definitely need a better telephoto lens – they just would not let me get very close.

Of course, all of this is so inspirational to me, and creating something is always in my thoughts.  A typical day involved me puttering along the shoreline, collecting interesting pieces of driftwood.

driftwood on my kayakDriftwood collection and a stick (bark neatly chewed off by a beaver)

There are always a lot of downed birch trees in the woods.  Birch bark is invaluable for starting a campfire; it is always instant success.  I also have a project in mind, so spent some time stripping bark to take home and finding branches.  Of course, I would never damage a live tree for any of that – plenty of findings on the ground.

birch barkBirch bark and sticks

In the evening, we took the kayaks onto the lake to wait for the stars to peek out.  The loons called, with their eerie sound. A campfire or two twinkled in the distance, and we were lucky to have neighbors that loved the silence and natural sounds as much as we do (no radios to destroy the peace).

sunset on the lakeEvening falls on the lake

Now I have a new store of creative materials in stock.  I’ll have to get to work and make something so that others can bring a little piece of the north woods into their own home.

between painting and sculpture

German-born artist Anselm Kiefer is currently exhibiting at the Gagosian Gallery in New York. His work has been displayed in major museums throughout the world.

Anselm KieferAnselm Kiefer, Laßt tausend Blumen blühen!

His work is diverse and compelling.  From the image above, a spring-like, airy painting, to the image below, a dark, foreboding work, I am drawn to his creations, and I’m not quite sure why. Maybe because the influence of mythology comes through in his pieces, and I love the history and magic of storytelling and fairy tales.

His subject-matter ranges over sources as diverse as Teutonic mythology and history, alchemy and the nature of belief, all depicted in a bewildering variety of materials, including oil paint, dirt, lead, models, photographs, woodcuts, sand, straw and all manner of organic material. By adding found materials to the painted surface of his immense tableaux, he invents a compelling third space between painting and sculpture. –from White Cube

Anselm KieferAnselm Kiefer, Shulamith , 1983
Oil, acrylic, emulsion, shellac, straw and woodcut fragments on canvas

Many of his works are huge pieces of art.  Take a look at the one pictured below – it is approx. 12 feet by 18 feet wide.

Anselm KieferAnselm Kiefer, Zim Zum, 1990
Acrylic, emulsion, crayon, shellac, ashes, and canvas on lead, 149 3/4 x 220 1/2 in.

For his exhibition at MoMA in 1988-89, they actually had to reinforce the museum walls to support the weight of the huge, often lead-covered canvases.  It is interesting to hear Kiefer talking about his work and the process.  (See You Tube video) He takes photographs wherever he goes, and uses them for inspiration.  He speaks of finishing a painting, then not being satisfied with it, so he placed it on the floor and threw dirt on it.  Then he let the painting bake in the sun, drying and cracking the soil.  Then he continued with more layers of paint.  Considering the long lists of materials in his paintings, and their size, I can see how heavy his work must become.

Anselm KieferAnslem Kiefer, Burning Rods
oil, acrylic, emulsion, and shellac on canvas with ceramic, iron, copper wire, and lead

In 2007 he created a permanent installation in the Louvre – the first living artist to have that honor since Georges Braque in 1953.