Into the Woods-For Inspiration

June 28, 2017 , In: General, Inspiration

Nature always seems inspiring to me. I am lucky enough to have a wooded area behind my house with walking paths that wind through the neighborhood and even stretches to the Neuse River which is about a mile from my backyard. In the fall, it’s gorgeous especially when it’s ‘raining’ leaves as they drop off. Even in winter with all the bare trees it’s beautiful and very sculptural. Early spring when everything comes back to life is just amazing. The only thing is…snakes are plentiful in this area of the country. And because we had a mild winter the prediction for more than the average number of snakes has been highly publicized in the newspapers and on the nightly news. I am NOT a fan of snakes.

So far, we have had TWO that I know of in our yard. One copperhead and one king snake. Copperheads are poisonous and king snakes will kill copperheads-yay! Well, the fact that they have appeared in my yard makes me a little afraid to head down that wonderful path through the woods to the river. Logic tells me that there are many more hidden in all those decaying logs and leaves along the path.

I tell you all this because I want you to know that I put my big-girl pants on and grabbed my camera so I could hunt down insects for this month’s theme here at Art Elements.  Diana chose insects and I was determined to search for some out in the woods for inspiration.

Several paths through the woods. The one on the left is pretty clear and winds along the river. I did NOT go down the path on the right as it is grassy and probably full of slithery critters.

Well….I found only one butterfly during my adventure and it would not cooperate for me to photograph him/her. But I found so much more inspiration from the lichen, mushrooms and toadstools that seem to be sprouting everywhere. The living, breathing fungus that I saw kept my mind off the fact that there were probably snakes lurking somewhere near me.

There are several logs with the centers missing on the path. They all have tons of lichen starting to grown on them. There is probably a snake or possibly other creature living in them.

Last fall after we had a major deluge of rainfall I went walking and the toadstools were mostly orange and red. Now this spring they are all appearing white/cream (below).

Toadstools along the path

There was also some funky fungus that looked almost jelly-like but very curly (below at top). The fungus on the log in the bottom photo was crustier looking. That log was further off the path so the photo is a bit further than I would like, but you can still see the patterns and textures, which to me is so exciting!

Top-Cream Jelly-like fungus Bottom- Crunchy textured fungus

The lichens this spring are ranging from off white, to light brown, green and even rust colored.

Love these lichens

These are my favorite lichens

Textures in nature, in artwork, in clothing and even in home furnishings are what lure me in.  And the textures & colors in nature are just fascinating. They certainly inspire me to want to use some of these shapes and colors in my bead work and in my hand-embroidery! I see myself trying to replicate the delicate swirls and pod-like shapes from these lichen below in my needlework.

FABULOUS texture & shape as well as color in this lichen on a branch

More yummy colors and textures from  lichen on another fallen branch below.

Green & tan lichen on a fallen branch

I have always loved gathering up items that nature has seemingly discarded. Several of these branches with the lichen have came home to live with me.

I haven’t even mentioned the MOSS! Oh my-that emerald green!! Can you even replicate that? It is so vibrant and the moss is really fluffy at this time of year.

Bright emerald moss

More luscious moss in photos below. Photo bottom left looks like hair growing off the side of the tree.

Mossy trees

My walk in the woods wouldn’t be complete without showing you a photo of the Neuse River below. The day I was out walking a great blue heron just happened to be across the river on the banks fishing for his breakfast.

Zooming in on the great blue heron across the river.

And one last inspirational photo from my walk through the woods…This is my favorite scene. I have taken photos of this particular area in the fall, winter and spring. I just love how the light filters through and makes it seem magical.

Meditation corner in the woods

Well so much for finding insects!  I have quite a few butterflies, dragonflies and a TON of Japanese beetles in my yard so I think I will have to be content with the ones in my yard as inspiration for the insect theme.

Now I am well equiped to start a whole lichen/toadstool themed body of work! Maybe bead embroidered, or felted and hand-embroidered or a combination of all. I would love to share some work in the future that evolves from these photos.

Hope you have found some inspiration in these pictures as well. It was really worth taking a walk to the river. And the best thing…I didn’t even see one snake that day! 


Cathy Spivey Mendola

Cathy Spivey Mendola has been creative her entire life. After a short career in the medical profession she became a stay-at-home mom which allowed her to dabble in various arts and crafts. Many years and mediums later she has finally found her passion-bead embroidered jewelry. When she needs a break from jewelry she creates bead embellished art quilts and wall hangings.
    • baymoondesign
    • June 28, 2017

    Green and tan lichen on a fallen branch is my favorite. Thanks for sharing!

    • Julie
    • June 28, 2017

    Beautiful Cathy- Sometimes still attached to the trees you can find huge empty beetle shells!

    • Reply

      Thanks Julie! I didn’t spot any beetle carcasses but then again, I was so mesmerized by the lichens and moss I may have missed a few;-)

  1. Reply

    Looks like a gorgeous walk! (other than the snakes!!!) I was out this weekend too and have dozens of pics of moss, lichens and ferns… they’re fascinating to look at!

    • Reply

      Yes, the snakes are my least favorite thing about living so close to the woods, but the path is ripe with inspiration and fascinating textures/colors!

    • niky
    • June 28, 2017

    Thank you for sharing these beautiful photo’s. I love walking through our local woods but don’t think I would be as keen if I had to worry about snakes. I often love to stop and feel the moss and pick up treasures to take home with me too!

    • Reply

      Glad you enjoyed the photos. I am still taking walks and STILL haven’t seen a snake-yay!! I also found some lovely skeletonized leaves the other day. Just beautiful.

  2. Reply

    Oh, I so love the organic textures, pattern and colours!

    • Reply

      Thank you Claire! Nature really does have a wonderful selection of textures to inspire us;-)

    • Cindy H
    • June 29, 2017

    I am a Lover of Lichen. I grew up in nature. I had a father who spent time to teach me trees. and gardening. My mom always took us to parks and woods. so we grew up with nature. I have always been an advocate for Nature and it’s creature. to care and save them. I alawys have been picking things up off the ground my whole life. stones, shells, twigs,odd objects, leaves, ect. always have. still do at age 60. it’s in my DNA i quess. i love your photos of the mushrooms, lichen, moss, and fungus in the wood. how utterly lovely. also am a lover of texture and foliage. and the colors WOW greens are my favorite color. so those greens had me for sure. don’t worry bout the snakes they really don’t want to interface with you. the King snake is very beneficial to keeping bad critters at bay. never kill one of those. glad you put your big girl pants on and enjoyed the wood. happy snapping of nature and creating what you have photographed. beautiful pics.

    • Reply

      Nature is always a constant source of treasures! I just love collecting various objects that Mother Nature has offered up. And yes, King snakes are beneficial for keeping the bad snakes away.

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