ddrees art

My art work and thoughts

Leaf Art

Posted by ddrees on August 2, 2008

I 56 like leaves too. Here is my leaf art set at Flickr. Before personal computers I collected them and pressed them in things like old telephone books. Leaves pressed can mess up a book, so telephone books are perfect except space consuming. I would transfer them to boxes when they were dry. I still run across the boxes in the house, but I throw them out despite the nostalgia for years of leaves gone by. One problem is, as every botanist knows, that you lose the live color in pressed specimens, hence the need for scientific illustrators and photographers. The Smithsonian has cartloads of dried plants, many of which have likely not been seen since they were collected two centuries ago. They had warehouses of such stuff, at least when I was studying scientific illustration there with such greats as Elaine Hodges, author of the main scientific illustration book.

My colleague, Bob Creamer, has made a stunning body of work utilizing some of these stores in his photos.

I also used to photocopy some plants, for their structure. That was better than nothing but the paper took up space and different versions of machines smelled, aged and printed differently. I rarely touch a photocopier anymore. I cannot think of the last time I did. People xeroxing too much used to be a big issue at school so we had to have ID numbers to get into the copier. I have not heard any grumblings about that for a while. Now there are issues about digital color printers. But times change subtly and inexorably. Now I scan the leaves. I have quite a collection, but they do not take up space and they do not make me sneeze.

I also have lots of slides taken with my Zeiss Contaflex which had three close up lenses that could be screwed into an attachment. Now I need to scan the slides to use in the computer. I would like to buy a slide scanner since it is hard being at the right place at the right time to use the school scanner.

So far scanning slides and film has been slow and boring but the scanners are getting cheaper and the speed better. I am no early adopter. I adopt some tools that others have forgotten about like etching, marbling and papermaking. There is a special artistry to all these things. But I also like computers.

Some of my leaf art was made by looking hard at the subjects and rendering them naar het leven. Some were projected slides that I sketched with pencil on the paper tacked on the wall as a screen, as I imagine Vermeer did with his camera obscura or in our middle years with a lucigraph or lacy Lucy or still with the camera lucida.

Jungle plant watercolor ©ddrees 1987

Jungle plant watercolor ©ddrees 1987

After I got the trace I would study prints of the slides, whose color was never right, and watercolor them from there.

Now the computer is added to the mix but I have yet to use my new digital camera. And then there are Flash movies.

I like leaves for the same reasons I like shells and trees and cats and skies and bugs. They have beauty of shape, color, structure, transformation in life cycle and they are emblems and representatives of the vast wonder of it all.

Sweetgum and leaf tiles ©2002 ddrees

Sweetgum and leaf tiles ©2002 ddrees

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One Response to “Leaf Art”

  1. sometimes i find digital arts a bit weird looking he he he, but of course they are very cool too ;,~

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