Sunday, May 13, 2012


"I long for the woods. - The woods! - I often wonder what I am, naturalist or artist, for the pursuit of one hinders the other - I seem always to be deciding which it shall be - Of course it must be an artist, for it [i.e., I] must live, but I am hoping for a day when I can give myself entirely up to Nature."
Charles Burchfield (October 8, 1913)

Since early Roman times human faces have been depicted either made up of leaves or decorated with leaves. Since there is no recorded explanation for this we are left to decide for ourselves what it means. Often vines and leaves are shown growing out of mouths and eye sockets. Some people take this to represent rebirth or renaissance - a sort of cheery interpretation. It seems more likely to me that it is addressing the less comfortable concept of death and the return of the body to nature. In Medieval cathedrals "Green Men" appear regularly in different capacities from charming and decorative to ominous and frightening. They are demons and jolly tricksters. They are always intriguing.

The first green person in my botanical collection is a portrait of my father, Anthony Eugene Eufinger. He appears as a tete de feuilles or foliate head. Such heads are traditionally seen to be either decorated with leaves or peeking out from the woods. I like to think of him as remaining with me even if he is beyond my reach. He is still "in nature", among the leaves. He continues teaching me with the examples he set when he was alive and he is perhaps watching over me as I finish my life.

My own self portrait was inspired by a photograph of an ancient face carved out of rock and covered with moss. I know no details about this image but its serenity has always impressed me deeply. Life can be noisy, filled with work to do, days to manage, people to deal with. I am not complaining as I have work that interests me, a remarkable family and inspiring friends, but the concept of stepping back and blending into nature can also be very tempting.

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