I scrape the accumulated dirt from a twist of foothills palo verde. The ridges of the branch twist into a hollow cone. I can see, with a bit of dremeling yellow lines will be revealed, its fantastic shape resembling some unknown creature. I love this process of discovery. I love recovering these hidden stories.
I return to my studio, work the piece. As I scrape away at the detritus surrounding it, th potential is revealed. One piece speaks of joining with another, together, forming an unknown monster. Another curls into an almost bird shape, perches gracefully on a chunk of bark or stone.
As I work, I feel almost in communication with the piece I am preparing. The bulges become more pronounced on one. On another excess bark falls away. I can feel the wood explain itself. Sometimes I see one possibility for an assemblage. I get out my roll of glue-soaked newspaper and work to join it into an art piece. The woods fall apart, or slip and cannot be connected as I had thought. I give up on that vision. Then I see it with another piece of wood or stone. Somehow it lets me know this is the assemblage I am to make. And the piece goes together easily.
The process for me is spiritual. I am discovering the potential beauty in a branch, or in a scrap of bark. I am enabling others to see this art.
I work with various parts of a tree. Each part takes on its own personality, reveals its own part of the story. There are roots. Many of these roots come from mesquite trees. I read somewhere mesquite roots can grow slowly for years without producing a tree. It needs a source of water, once that is discovered, the tree grows. Mesquite roots form fantastical shapes. I found one which reveals the nubs and nobs of a Picasso nude. Another resembles a crocodile. Some are more discreet. I study them for hours as I clean them up. They bulge into unusual shapes, textures and colors emerging. Within them are pebbles they have grown around as they develop.
Trunks and large branches have supported the tree. They are sturdy, sending out eyes that will become smaller limbs. The vessels which supplied nutrients to the tree can often be found, faint, colorful lines beneath the bark of the tree.
Within the large branches lies the core. This is where termites and other insects have found their homes. They have carved out lacy patterns within the wood. Some of these are fragile, crumbling if handled too roughly. Others are stronger. The texture they produce, the eroded wood resembles eroded rock found in the landscape of this area. These pieces of wood call for sitting on top of a work of art, displaying heir almost geometric beauties.
Tree bark is textured as well, but it is much sturdier. In some places the bark thickens into a platform. Other times It is thinner. Then, each side of the bark displays a different pattern, a different color pattern. These pieces thrive when placed upright, allowing the viewer to admire both sides of the wood.
Then there are the limbs. These have grown out from the large branches. I can see, as I work them, the direction they grew as they carried their leaves upward to the sunlight. These limbs become the dominate lines in some of my pieces.
"With all the beauty surrounding me here above the Verde Valley, how could I not create more beauty?"