Living on the dry and dusty plains of Southeastern Colorado, where sage and yucca are often the only natural greenery available for us to enjoy, we learn to value even the smallest efforts of nature to beautify her most forbidding landscapes. Here, it is not uncommon for us to cultivate, as ornamentals, plants that in more temperate areas are known to be invasive weeds. So I pamper and treasure my little pot of Oxalis, and in return it rewards me with gorgeous bouquets of dainty pink flowers from its purple foliage. In the humble Oxalis, nature has given us a lesson in art - if we are able to learn it.
Thirty years of design, illustration, and teaching watercolor led me to what I have come to call the Oxalis Method, an artist's theorem of value. It goes something like this:
For years I labored at my easel to capture the essence of our arid environment with paint and parchment. But I dreamed of a world in which every aspect of life and nature could reveal its artistic component. From the moment I shaped and adorned my first piece of art from wire and beads - a fashionable bookmark - I knew that my artistic vision had found a new horizon to gaze upon. Using precious materials, and working in three dimensions, I would be able to offer my artistic expressions to others in ways that a painter could not.
Seduced by the colors, shapes, and textures of individual beads, I began to string together beaded eyeglass straps, necklaces, earrings and bracelets, which I sold on the counter of my custom frame shop.
Later I began to combine the notes and melodies of individual beads into a symphony of color and texture. Here began the notion that art could be made wearable. I created entire collections of lustrous spiky clusters and a vineyard namesake group that translated my love of fine wines into images in art jewelry.
Still searching for the perfect framework on which to display individual beads or precious stones (isn't that what the owner of a custom frame shop does?), I turned to metals, and especially to precious metal clay, for a new direction. Now I could give shape and form to any inspiration triggered by a seedpod, insect, or even a piece of bark that I had seen on a morning walk. Many of the Oxalis metals pieces are designed around a natural sepal, petal, twig, or leaf native to Colorado. I developed a process for converting these specimens to fine silver, combining them with other metals and individually selected crystals and stones. This process seeks to achieve the dual purpose of expressing both the taste of the person wearing it and evoking the magic of the "Oxalis effect" on those who admire it.
My work today brings me full circle, back to my beginnings as a watercolor artist. I now "paint with fire". The ancient art of enameling has returned to me the full palette of color available only to the artist. What I have learned during my journey about design and color and textures becomes the basis for making fine painting wearable.
Symmetry and perfection have played only supporting roles in this journey. More important are the values of balance, contradiction, and understatement. For it is the art of nature not to conform, or to imitate, but to be original, authentic, and genuine. Look for the uniqueness in each Oxalis creation. Explore its individuality. And if you find that it evokes in you that sense of the ordinary made extraordinary, then you will also be rewarded with a timeless Oxalis bouquet.