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The Leafy Endeavors of a Handcarving Artist

Dessie Jeanne Marshall's intricate works are way finer than anything gold-leafed.
January 21, 2016, 7:50pm
All images courtesy the artist

Mermaids, skulls, and butterflies etched onto large leaf canvases comprise the intricate works of Dessie Jeanne Marshall. Going by the moniker "Violent Hippie Leaf Art," Marshall says, “I feel I am taking a symbol of peace, and doing a sort of violence to it for the sake of art.” The leaf works are small meditations on the wonders of the natural world and human ingenuity.

With a handful of patience, Marshall freehand carves the leaves, playing with the natural composition of stems, veins, and free space. She tells The Creators Project, “I've always been an adrenaline junkie and never would have guessed that such a sedentary activity could be such a rush. It's the thrill of the unknown (much of the time I don't even know quite what it will look like until it's done) as well as the escalating risk as the hours become invested, of everything being ruined by one mistake.”

Marshall lets the shape of the leaves inform her carvings with a blade. From there, she must let nature take its course—it’s part of the process of working with such a delicate canvas. She says, “I have no help at all for preventing the leaf from falling apart (which it sometimes does). However, after I am done carving the leaf I coat it with a two-part epoxy, which makes it extremely durable and actually waterproof.”

Her works offer silent moments of reflection of the fast city lifestyles many of us live. We see a juxtaposition of nature and human-made as well as natural light and shadows. Those themes are intrinsic to the artist’s experience as she is in quiet reflection while she makes her leaf compositions in British Columbia, Canada. For the time being, she is working on her Cabin Collection at a lake house and focused on natural abstractions. “There will be a few reinterpretations of images I have seen in the past mixed in with hopefully a bunch of fresh ones,” she says. “I will let the leaves decide!”

To learn more about the artist, click here.

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