The Essence of Nature in Yvonca's Earth-Inspired Art

"You’re so full of character and the world adores your creaturehood, we watch and want to pounce.. you have twigs and leaves braided through your hair.. the scent of sandalwood and vetiver in your aura… the promise of red grapes in your body… the field of loyalty around you which holds those beings who stay loyal to themselves… you see, you make me want to write, to squeeze the colours out of you like a tube of paint..." 

and a woman full of colour she is... 

Speaking to Yvonca about her art is just as fascinating as the artwork she creates. 

She indeed carries the scent of sandalwood, of smoke in an autumn afternoon, a fresh field of grass, and all the apples and plants she comes in contact with and nurtures. 
I asked her about the works that I am especially attracted to which she calls Land Speak or Earth Art, and I was on a journey only this artist, who is in daily contact with the magic whisper of nature, could illustrate...

Her works carry an ever-changing, ethereal effect, yet organic and wholesome depth - it is like viewing visions or internal dreams locked deep in nature only she has access to; and these deep, mystic visions we have the opportunity to experience through her perspective and interpretation. And what visions they are. She explains that her work is never visual or pre-conceived: it starts as a dance with a plant, and she allows the plant to speak in its own language, she only means to be a mouthpiece for its essence. As a result, her nature-inspired work is very spiritual and faith-based, she never knows how a piece will end up being; for her, it's more about the process of dancing with the essence of wind and plant, and working with nature for the making of an artwork. 

She is not unlike a botanist, or scientist. She is often observing the cycles of nature, plants and the growth and process of them - she wants to see what the buds in the trees are doing, how they change, what the animals say, how her land changes from season to season. She stresses that it's the general patterns of growth, the endless variations in nature which fascinate her. 

I feel someone who is so in tune with the stability and cycles of nature, as well as aware of the metamorphosis of life, can only be as trustworthy as the nature-derived inspiration she hands out so generously to others through her work and spirit.

She shares with us her artistic process, her gypsy heritage, and the power of being connected to the rhythms of nature.

The Wild Sawtooth Sunflowers

What medium do you usually work with?

more detail (Wild Fox Grape Sweetness)
I have a great fondness for graphite and charcoal if I want to make detailed almost technical drawings. Both are very time consuming and require focused concentration, which I am not always capable of. 
I also love Sumi ink, (from burnt pine trees) which has a very silvery gray to its watered-down tones. I also enjoy taking cuttings of plants and simmering them to extract dyes to paint with. And pastels . . . finger painting with materials is sooo satisfying.

 How long have you been drawing/painting?

All my life.

Where are you based?

I live in nature, a rural part of Illinois. 
I consider myself a reformed gardener... I have a wildlife sanctuary, and I have a relationship with my land.  I feel it's reciprocal, the relationship. I want to see what the buds are doing, I use the ashes of the dirt, the wind. 
I want to absorb its essence. 

Tell us about what motivates you to do your art. 
A great love and need to be in the natural world. Often I become attached to a single species of plant for a season and have an almost obsessive loyal relationship of adoration. In my walks I often/usually find plants/natural objects that speak to me and they end up starring in my work either as subject or brush.

 Where do you draw inspiration from?
Natural world and my inner turmoil and relationships . . . somehow morph forces and plants are often the vehicle for acting out a drama. Sometimes I am just responding to an unction to create and follow a thread and do not understand until I have made or get feedback. I have great respect for automatic drawing/processes.

Do you have an artwork of yours that is dearest to you? or a series of works? Share with us which one(s) and why.
Waking Shagbark

Haha shhh . . .! I LOVE ALL my children. The Shagbark Hickory Series is a fav. It was an act of love to record/document each step in the seasonal transformation. I feel like the Johnny Appleseed of Shagbark Hickories and I enjoy my relationship with these magnificent trees. 

To view each drawing, click on link:

 The Shagbark Hickory Series

or a specially made slideshow below :)

I cannot stop doing self portraits, they are so self-revealing and have a huge number of them. The graphite ones still excite me as do the scripture series. 
Calling Heaven  
i started a joke . . .

The 4 part electric SP’s still amaze me as I did them one each night in a row and they came out of nowhere with no pre-conceived thought. They brought me very healing information.
And I do love the land artworks as well. They are very large and physical works to make.

There is an organic, wholesome feel to your series of works called “Land Art.” It seems like you hand pick elements or materials found in nature and implement them into your pieces. 
Tell us about your process, the methods you’ve developed to create such a magical effect.

It is a very ritualized process for me, I love the act of ritual, the planning /preparing oneself to make art/love. There is a delicious anticipation that begins the process. There is a spark involved. I know which paper, I measure and cut to size. Diptychs, triptychs, etc. are cut to the same length and need to be created together. 
Night Prairie Triptych

I always use sumi ink, which I prepare in formulas, but the other colors are not definite. If I have made a dye from a certain plant I will at some point always use that plant in the making of the art either as a negative mask or actual brush. I have buckets of tools and inks and supplies and often keep a wheel barrow inside my studio to haul in one trip or a minimum of trips.  

Everchanging II 

Aside from that, then spontaneity takes over. 
The actual painting starts with quietness and prayer. 
I seek to be very, very gathered in the present. I have a reverence for the plant world, a listening/centering and then, I begin.
I know I jump and dance and shoosh, it is a physical process, but I am in a different state. I want to channel a voice, an essence as I create. I never have a preconceived idea, not a composition or pattern of movement. I never know what they look like until they dry. 

There is experimentation in every piece and I build on that. A structured set of variables begin a spiritual process that harnesses random chaos. 
I always welcome the wind to move the material, paper and pigments. I would love to make generations of this process work with another artist/lover/friend, but for now it is my own very private, solitary work.

Everchanging Series

Dancing Prairie Grass

Coming Through

You mainly create large scaled work. Do larger sizes work best for you for this kind of nature-inspired art?

I have some smaller pieces, which are more beginning experiments or tests. I want to create expansive rooms, encompassing landscapes of psychic wall paper. I want to convey “being” in peace, wonder, beauty and I want there to be felt a tangible “aliveness” that the viewer can enter into and experience a shift of consciousness.

This world is too much most of the time for me, I am overwhelmed by the frenetic meaningless activity - I seek a counterbalance of depth, passion, beauty and peace. Peace is not boring, it is a birthing place. I would like to create an entire atmospheric room of morphing installations to envelop others. Spaces that induce change, promote harmony, clarity and healing. 
You can’t do that with small works. :)

Your “Tools from Nature” are incredible, you made these?

Tools from Nature
Yes. It started with the idea that different plants create different textures. Because I have informally used many items as brushes, either hammering the stalks and raking the fibers into brushes. I wanted to elevate and document them. 
These were more fun to make than to use. As the dryness of the plant material is a disintegrative process in keeping with returning back to the earth, they of course fell apart as I used them, so I stopped. 
They are now preserved in all their glory . . until they completely fall apart one day.

barely there
There is a drawing of yours that I’m particularly drawn to that is separate from your Land Art. 
It was drawn when you were younger. The eyes for me stood out the most – they are so empty and yet full of intensity… it feels like a very important drawing holding great personal meaning.
Ahh yeah . . . “barely there”. The eyes are very telling. They are disconnected and not the same. The shapes and sizes are different and carry different meaning. I drew it when I was 15 years old. I had been kicked out of drawing class and vowed to continue my own work. I was documenting myself in that time via self portrait because I knew it was important and that I did not have the ability to process a trauma I was holding from my gypsy summer. 

I had begun to discover that the hand that draws is directly connected to the gut and is incapable of editing . . the truth is not hidden and whether we want to or not, the hand and gut tell it like it is.

Throughout your portfolio there is a lot of reference to gypsies, and there is even a collection of your work called “Gypsy Stew.” Is there some gypsy in you?
In acceptance lieth peace

Well . . . my Aunt married a gypsy, a Scottish Tinker and I spent some time staying weekends with them as a child and one summer living with them. I would say there is some gypsy in me, hopefully the very finest of their qualities and void of the “less attractive” qualities. Quite by chance, I began a collaboration project with contemporary poet Tim Buckley. I explored art imagery of gypsy influences and he wrote some marvelous poetry in response. It was a rich experience, of mutual respect and admiration for one another’s work . . . . and very healing and cathartic.

Tell us something about you we don’t know, maybe something that you feel is quirky or unique ;) Something you feel that makes you who you are.
How about if I tell what is NOT quirky? It will be a shorter list. :)
When I buy a carton of eggs and I need to transfer them into the plastic egg crate in the refrigerator . . . I move them around a lot. I think, well Bill’s been sitting next to Fred a long time and maybe it would be nice to sit next to another egg for a while. And I think . . stop BEING NUTZ!! But I always still do it anyways. Haahaa.
I think, having had a dear Grandma that had mental health issues, the idea of being crazy always really scared me. Somehow, when I faced that fear and got over it I find I am a lot more lovingly accepting of myself and quirks . . and it is much more peaceful in my head.

Is there anything you’d like to tell other artists and people reading this? Any words of inspiration to encourage or stimulate creativity in society?
Just step out and do it. Don’t do it for anyone’s approval, have a playful approach, be accepting and experiment. 
Find other creative people that you click with and enjoy life together. Being an artist of any kind is a way of life. It seeps into everything you do. It is cathartic and healthy and it keeps you more fully alive and because it is a form of vitality. . I think it actually results in aging more gracefully.
It will be a path of inner and outer growth and more actualized people have more to contribute to this world. :)

Circular Nude


4 frogs leaping

Go Forth

Adam & Eve / Naked and Unashamed: 1

Summer has faded.

stitch in time . . . . hand portrait

Organic Reflux

Tower of Hands pre-bloom


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