"Nature is painting for us,
day after day,
pictures of infinite beauty,
if only we have the eyes to see them."
—John Ruskin


I am often asked how I came up with the idea to photograph tree bark.
The answer is simple: Nature called when I was listening. After 25 years
art directing regional and national magazines, my focus shifted to book publishing. With fewer deadlines, I had more time to walk, to think,
and to “see.” What I saw amazed me.

The gnarled trunks of neighborhood ficus trees were the first to catch my
eye. At the time, I was unable to find the right artwork for a challenging
wall space. Horizontal art lacked the height needed while vertical pieces were not wide enough. As an art director, I had won awards for design and
photography. Surely I could “design” the wall space myself using a mosaic of photographs.

My plan was to create a mosaic made up of nine square photographs,
each depicting an element of nature. When I couldn't find the images
I envisioned, I decided to take the pictures myself. I studied photography
at the School of Visual Arts in New York, I shot for clients, and I spent
my career editing photography and art directing photo shoots. I could do this, I thought. I started with the neighborhood ficus but then began studying other trees throughout Southwest Florida, as well as everywhere
I traveled—the lines, the colors, the textures, the patterns. As I looked closer I began seeing abstracts, landscapes, even seascapes in bark.
Van Gogh wrote that in trees he saw expression and soul. In tree bark,
I saw modern art.

The enthusiastic response to the pictures I was taking inspired Modern Earth Mosaics. It’s been fun to hear others interpret what they “see” in the images, and gratifying to watch them create their own unique mosaic.

The BARK GALLERY consists of square bark details that can be purchased individually or in a grouping (see the MOSAIC GALLERY for inspiration). Larger pieces can be found in GALLERY 111. As you explore the site, you may wonder if the images are manipulated. The answer is “no.” Nature is painting for us, day after day, pictures of infinite beauty if only we have the eyes to see them.

Donna Murphy