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Saturday, June 1, 2013

Natural Found Materials make Artwork Zing


I’m always amazed at the ingenuity of artists. When budgets are tight, they still manage to find a way to create art. A fantastic artist by the name of Mark Powell creates meaningful portrait drawings on old envelopes and photographed legal documents free for the taking.

Dropped palm fronds are the creative backdrop for another artist who turns them into fish, mermaids, and lion heads. The dried leaves become fins, swishy fish tails, or miens in her adept hands.


Linda, fell in love with “pine straw” and creates unusual baskets, wall hangings, and sculpture by twisting and weaving natural and stained strands together. The bottoms of some baskets are lined with bean pods from the Poinciana tree. Sturdy as leather, the pods add functionality to her pieces.




Collage artists create interesting textures and shapes by using natural materials in their designs. There are two ways to creatively capture these items on canvas: the first is to apply paint to the underside of the object and then press it on canvas or paper; and the second is to lay the objects (i.e. leaves, flowers, sticks) on the background and spray paint over it. When the items are removed, the shape of the items remains in outlined form and transparent color. This treatment makes an incredible under painting for portraits or abstract pieces.

Jewelry artists sometimes use natural materials like seeds, bark, and dried peelings in their designs; threading them together with crocheted strands. I purchased one of these lovely pieces; however, the only drawback is what I call “natural deterioration.” Some of the items crumble over time and shed on my clothing. The necklace itself still looks lovely, but my shirt or blouse ends up covered with pepper-like dust.


I once purchased a homemade pen for my son’s birthday. He’s a genuine environmentalist and a dedicated recycler. I thought he would enjoy the pen which was made of recycled wood from an old fence post. The finished wood had a wonderful grain and was polished to perfection. Other woods the artist used came from old barns, railroad ties, and demolished houses.

I’ve often admired the leaves and the fruit of a tree in our neighborhood, but have yet to identify it. The leaves look like that of the water oak, but the clusters of seed pods do not fit the description in my Audubon book.


When the pods burst open, they form a flower. At the center are red berries. If any of you can identify this tree, I’d really appreciate your feedback. Although the sidewalk below ends up covered with red berries and broken pods, I managed to collect a few before they were broken. The pod forms a flower when it opens and when left to dry, the petals become hard and woody. The tree is messy, but beautiful!


If you use natural materials in your artwork, please share it with us here. The greatest thing about having a blog is the ability to share and learn from others.