Yesterday, the morning was fair, the sun felt warm, and the breeze felt cool. I had a couple of hours to myself on the edge of some woods, and I had some clay and tools with me.
I had a vague idea of doing another dryad, but, with the early apple harvests coming in, I thought I'd try an apple tree. I didn't do a sketch, but I had the idea to use a fallen leaf as a rough guide. I made a shallow impression of it and used the veins to imagine the paths of branches. At first, it looked very stiff, but a little bit of variation of depth in the bas relief made a big difference. It was still stylized, of course, but it was meant to be so. For now, all of my stamp-method reproductions of these sculptures will require fairly flat and shallow originals. As it was, my intention of adding a forward-looking face and body would lead to difficulties. I didn't want to complicate it further.
Because I didn't plan ahead, I was a little surprised by what my hands ended up doing. I have the feeling that this will call really loudly to just a few people, while it won't be most people's cup of tea. I was thinking about gravid, fertile nature spirits of the early harvest, promising more to come. I was thinking of ripening apples and of warm afternoons in the coming autumn, when everything would be at its fullest and juiciest. In retrospect, it's no wonder that I sculpted her.
Today, on the other hand, I didn't go to the woods. They were nevertheless on my mind, and I still had a drive to do more specific tree spirits. I had been particularly charmed by a couple of green acorns I had seen earlier in the week, so I envisioned a dryad lunging to catch the last leaf from her own oak tree. This time, I made a sketch, traced the reverse, made a rubbing of it onto the clay, and sketched in more details with a craft knife. As large as she ended up — more than three inches tall — she's barely big enough for me to get in the level of detail that I had envisioned. As it was, a small twitch or careless motion sometimes ruined what I was working on. I had to redo the face almost entirely, and I ended up leaving in flaws that would probably only get worse if I tried to fix then. This is very much a learning process.
I have the feeling that I'm going to try a smaller oak tree, but I'm also going to want to do more in this style that's a little reminiscent of classical art. I could just imagine Diana on the hunt under a crescent moon, maybe the Morrigan skimming along a battlefield, or perhaps Arianrhod… So many half-thoughts. I'll give then time to percolate.
This week I have enjoyed both the structured sculpts and the ones that surprise me. Either way, these trips to work in the fresh air under rustling leaves really seem to be pushing me to do new things. They haven't yet failed to inspire me, and I dearly hope that my joy comes through in what I'm making — along with just a little mischief.
Maybe I'll just go to sleep now and see who visits me in my dreams. Which tree or spirit or deity will my hands want to make next? There's always another tree to work under, and there's always more mischief to be made tomorrow!