Plant Creature paintings

Totem for Father Gilla, 13 x 11, gouache and ink, 2017

Night Creatures- white clover, 13 x 11", gouache and ink, 2017

Seed Head 2, 14 x 11, watercolor and gouache, 2017

Sumac 4, 14 x 10

Sumac 1, 13 x 11", watercolor and gouache, 2017

Sumac 3, 13 x 11", watercolor and gouache, 2017

Sumac 2, 12" x 10", watercolor and gouache, 2017

Seed head 1, 13" x 10", watercolor and ink, 2016

Shataki 2, 13" x 13", watercolor and gouache, 2017

Three Crowns, 15" x 12", watercolor and gouache, 2017

Posted on: September 12, 2017
Views: 1699


These paintings are the results of very close and imaginative investigations into plants, seed heads, and flower both dried and living. They suggest different kinds of intelligences, and alternative ways of perceiving the natural world.

Other Projects by Richard Metz

Richard Metz

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MFA Alumni

Major: Painting

Graduation Year: 2000

Artist Statement:

Artist Statement- The Plant Creature Paintings of Richard Metz 2017-18

There is so much that is unknown and mysterious in the natural world. My intention with Plant Creature paintings is to create expressive works that embody what I imagine might be the spirits or personalities of the plants and trees and the forests and fields that I love to wander and explore.

The watercolor/gouache paintings begin as drawings of magnified observation of flowers and buds, and allowing these shapes to suggest faces. I love the process of closely observing these plants through a magnifying glass. There is a sense of discovering a new world that is exciting and so suggestive. It is easy to see/imagine strange faces and characters in the natural shapes.

While these are obviously constructed images, for me, these works express my connection with the natural world. I also pay homage to the works of the Iroquois mask makers who saw the spirits of the forest, Jean Dubuffet and his interest in the art of children and the insane, and Theodore Geisel, a master of hybrid creations.

The works spring from a sense of deep ecology. I have the greatest respect, admiration, and awe for the wild areas of the natural world. These paintings are constructed with the awareness that our environment is under severe threat, from carbon in the atmosphere, deforestation, and ocean acidification and warming. I hope viewers of my work feel a curiosity to travel further into the natural world, and perhaps an urge to protect it.

Artist Statement - the Tree Creature works of Richard Metz 2017-18

As an environmental artist, I have been creating traditional and non-traditional works for 20 years. During my graduate work at Maine college of Art I began to explore my feeling that paintings of nature were not enough. I wanted to get out of the studio, and interact with the natural world. I wanted my works to have a sense of place. I researched many techniques and materials, many from pre-modern times, and came up with an idea. I would use natural non-toxic pigments and eggs to create ephemeral installations of creatures based on myths and stories of each particular area. I wanted my works to have a dialog with nature, so they needed to be in a real natural setting. My belief is that the natural world is not only exceptionally wonderful and sacred, but under serious threat. I wanted people to be drawn out into nature to see the work, and establish a greater connection to woodland areas.
But this idea has seemed strange and subversive to many, both in the art community and in the environmental community, because it crosses over lines that have been drawn. I have been fortunate to have had some adventurous residency directors and boards select my work each summer for the last six years. From nearby Abington, Pa, to Nova Scotia, from Washington State and South Carolina, I have been able to work in both Art-Woods, and wooded areas of art centers to create installations of Painted Tree Creatures. I have researched each area for the nature myths, stories, and legends that might be told in the woods there.
One reason for creating ephemeral artworks is to ‘let nature win’. This concept is a synthesis of my work as an environmentalist, artist, and storyteller. Much of the process of making art is a battle with the elements to preserve the artwork forever. I decided with this ongoing project to create artwork which lives in harmony with the life and death cycles of the natural world. The actual paint is made from eggs mixed non-toxic natural pigments, spices like Turmeric, Paprika, and Saffron, plants like Indigo, Madder, and Sandalwood, and rocks like Calcite, charcoal, ochres, ores, and earths. The paintings will slowly and gracefully fade away in two to three years, leaving the natural world exactly the same, with only photographs and memories to savor. Art making can be part of a sustainable process that does not include toxic materials that will harm the earth. These works will also not contribute to the accumulation of stuff in our society.
In my research, it has been so exciting to discover the similarities and differences between all the forest/nature -cultures. This history includes Native Americans artists, African tribal works, and Celtic and Scottish imagery. But I have also looked at the seafaring cultures on both coasts, and woodland myths from logging camps to Appalachia. My own style at times, veers toward the hybrid creatures of Dr. Suess, Greek mythology, and other crypto-zoological animals.