LEAFLINES are a series of digital artworks that use leaves to create dynamic negative and positive space made by the visual interplay of the color, texture, and shape of individual leaves against a solid background color. The images are calligraphic and have a visual vibrancy and intensity created by the figure/ground relationship of the leaves with the background space. They are created by scanning or photographing individual leaves and compositing the artwork in Photoshop. I start with a blank, black background and then build and compose the images using leaves from my house plants, garden, neighborhood trees, and the internet. I started this series in 2009 and then took an eleven-year break, working on other visual and writing projects. When I got a dog during the peak of the Covid-19 crisis, I began to collect leaves on our daily walks and was inspired to restart the series as the autumn leaves began to ignite my imagination with their fiery color palates and wonderful patterns.
Sometimes inspiration falls from the skies and lands at one’s feet. As the songwriter Joe Ely once said, “Some people can walk around the block and see very little and other people can walk around the block and see the whole world.” In order to survive during the pandemic, it became necessary to live as a traveler while staying very close to home. These leaves gave my feet and imagination wings and took me to unexpected and unanticipated places. As a viewer wrote to me after first looking at this series; ” I thought- Ah, so leaves actually look like this. Then I went back and looked again at the abstract formal quality of the compositions. These are wonderful, being at the same time both quite abstract and quite literal.”
These are improvised compositions, emerging a little like jazz, as I start with a loose underlying structure of formal ideas but never have any initial idea of what will emerge as the final image – It is a voyage of visual discovery into an unknown realm created on a blank black canvas using shapes, colors, patterns and forms allied with nature’s photosynthetic cast-offs and detritus as my art materials and inspiration. I like the push and pull between the foregrounds and backgrounds in these images – what appears to be is not, yet is, if you look at it another way, in a vision of mysterious visual double meanings. These images play with optical cognitive dissonance, where one can hold two different interpretations of one thing at the same time.
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