Nature is where I find some of my best inspiration. I love being in nature, and natural, organic shapes often speak to me. So it is no surprise that there is so much nature inspired artwork in my collection. Whether it is light playing through the leaves of trees, rocks worn round by centuries of water, microscopic organic structures, or even piles of debris after a massive storm, the natural forms all around us have a beauty and a story to tell.
Inspiration from Light and Color
Let me just say I love earth tones. My favorite colors are the colors in nature. That’s not to say I don’t appreciate a good electric neon green once in a while, but there’s something relaxing and grounding about the colors of earth.
Take this artwork, for example. I created this piece, “Scattered Boats,” drawing on bright but earthy shades of brown, orange, and tan. The mixed media artwork contains Leather elements provide a natural base representing earth and soil in this image. The brighter warm colors give me the feel and warmth of Arizona sun on desert rocks. The greens and blues bring to mind water, algae, and seaweed; and the textures of light and color in the patinated copper are like dappled sunlight filtering through the water and waves.
The natural elements that inspired this piece drive color choices and the use of light and shadow.
Rocks, Twigs, and Natural Shapes
By far my favorite nature inspired shape is round. Circular or spherical shapes in my artwork come from river rocks, eggs, or microscopic cells. Often I group circular shapes together to create cairns. Here are a few pieces that I created this way:
I love to bring shapes together into groups, or accumulations. One is never enough! Whether the accumulation is a cairn, a bundle, or a scattering, the accumulation brings repetition together with randomness—another natural element—to create an organic and dynamic flow to the artwork.
Here is another piece that is inspired by nature. In this wall sculpture I envision the accumulations to be bundles of twigs:
Art Inspired from Microscopic Structures
Some of my early inspiration came from looking at old medical illustrations and images created through microscopes. Cellular structures are various, and they can be beautiful or vulgar, or even both at the same time! One of my favorite wall sculptures is inspired by the shape of egg cells, or ootids, one of the earliest structures in the formation of a new living thing.
Other microscopic structures that give me inspiration include spirals, DNA, and virus molecules.
Negative Space in Nature
Some of the most interesting shapes, to me, come from the absence of a shape. Or the shapes in between the shapes. In fact, even in my studio negative space is a source of inspiration when I look at the shapes left over in the excess metal after cutting out other shapes. These “negative shapes” can inspire brand new shape elements that take on a texture and meaning of their own. Take a look at the following artwork, paying attention to the negative space, the forms in between the other pieces.