The Woodwife

"The Woodwife", a painting by Jessica Maring

“The Woodwife” was the first major painting I produced, in 1998.  I had just moved from an ugly, noisy, dirty city, to the forest in the Santa Cruz mountains, and I reveled in the natural, beautiful world that surrounded me.  The view in every direction was of trees–redwood, fir, pine, oak and manzanita, the air smelled clean, deer grazed around the house and looked in the windows, and small creatures explored the garden and the decks every evening.  I was overwhelmed with gratitude, and spent every sunny day outside, tending the garden or painting on the deck.  I felt the forest and its inhabitants as a presence, and wanted to paint an expression of what that spirit of the forest felt like to me.

One day I came across a story about a woodwife in a book of mythology, and it appealed to me immensely, because she’s the spirit of the forest.  She’s the Green Woman, the counterpart of the more well known Green Man, and the Wild Woman, a link to the archetypal Mother Earth.  She’s the dryad of Greco-Roman mythology, the more ancient Artemis, the woodwife of Sweden, and the elf maiden of Scandinavia and Germany.  All are spirits of the forest, the protectors, inhabitants or spirits of trees and sacred groves. In some of the tales the woodwife is a trickster, seducing men into harm; in others, she is a benevolent spirit who rewards those who respect the forest.  The legends are many, but the common thread is that she is fey, a changeling more animal than human despite the somewhat human aspect of her appearance, and essentially uninterested in the affairs of men except as they might serve her interests or amuse her.  

My painting is an image of the legend that says she exists invisibly in the heart of an oak tree, but at sunset can emerge, take human form, and walk about the forest.  So here, she emerges from her tree, adorned with the elements and symbols of nature–plant, animal and bird.

The original model for the basic shape of the face was Isabella Rossellini, although I’m sure no one would recognize her in the finished Woodwife.  The eyes are rounded and the pupils elongated to more resemble those of an animal, and the shape of her nose is altered to bring the lower half of her face forward, vaguely suggesting a muzzle.  The branch of berries came from an unknown tree in my garden, the blue feather from one of the numerous stellar jays that came to my feeders (I would find a feather on the ground every now and then),  and the pale owl feather was a gift that was left on my deck, perhaps placed there by a woodwife.

 

 

10,305 thoughts on “The Woodwife

  1. The very next time I read a blog, I hope that it does not disappoint me just as much as this particular one. I mean, Yes, it was my choice to read through, nonetheless I really thought you would probably have something helpful to say. All I hear is a bunch of moaning about something you can fix if you weren’t too busy seeking attention.

  2. The very next time I read a blog, Hopefully it won’t fail me as much as this particular one. I mean, I know it was my choice to read, however I really believed you’d have something useful to say. All I hear is a bunch of crying about something you can fix if you weren’t too busy searching for attention.

  3. Can I simply say what a relief to discover someone who really understands what they are talking about on the net. You definitely realize how to bring an issue to light and make it important. A lot more people have to read this and understand this side of your story. It’s surprising you aren’t more popular given that you definitely have the gift.

  4. This is the perfect website for everyone who wishes to understand this topic. You realize so much its almost tough to argue with you (not that I actually would want to…HaHa). You definitely put a new spin on a topic that has been discussed for a long time. Wonderful stuff, just wonderful!

  5. Your style is so unique compared to other people I’ve read stuff from. Many thanks for posting when you’ve got the opportunity, Guess I’ll just book mark this site.

  6. I seriously love your website.. Very nice colors & theme. Did you make this site yourself? Please reply back as I’m wanting to create my very own blog and would like to know where you got this from or what the theme is called. Cheers!

  7. After looking at a few of the articles on your site, I honestly like your technique of blogging. I saved it to my bookmark site list and will be checking back soon. Please check out my website too and let me know your opinion.

  8. I blog frequently and I really thank you for your content. Your article has truly peaked my interest. I will book mark your blog and keep checking for new details about once per week. I subscribed to your RSS feed too.

  9. I’m impressed, I must say. Seldom do I come across a blog that’s both educative and interesting, and without a doubt, you’ve hit the nail on the head. The problem is something too few people are speaking intelligently about. I’m very happy that I found this during my hunt for something concerning this.

  10. I truly love your site.. Great colors & theme. Did you build this amazing site yourself? Please reply back as I’m hoping to create my own blog and would like to know where you got this from or just what the theme is called. Many thanks!

  11. I was very happy to discover this great site. I need to to thank you for your time for this wonderful read!! I definitely appreciated every little bit of it and I have you book marked to check out new stuff on your blog.

  12. Hi, I do think this is an excellent site. I stumbledupon it ;) I’m going to return yet again since I book-marked it. Money and freedom is the greatest way to change, may you be rich and continue to guide other people.

  13. Hello there! This post couldn’t be written much better! Going through this article reminds me of my previous roommate! He always kept talking about this. I’ll send this information to him. Pretty sure he’s going to have a good read. Thanks for sharing!

  14. Everything is very open with a precise explanation of the issues. It was definitely informative. Your website is very helpful. Many thanks for sharing!

  15. I really love your blog.. Very nice colors & theme. Did you create this amazing site yourself? Please reply back as I’m wanting to create my own personal blog and would like to know where you got this from or what the theme is named. Thanks!

  16. Right here is the perfect website for anybody who wants to understand this topic. You understand a whole lot its almost hard to argue with you (not that I actually will need to…HaHa). You definitely put a brand new spin on a subject that has been discussed for ages. Wonderful stuff, just great!

  17. I’m excited to discover this great site. I wanted to thank you for your time for this particularly fantastic read!! I definitely appreciated every little bit of it and I have you saved as a favorite to check out new information on your blog.

  18. I’m amazed, I have to admit. Rarely do I come across a blog that’s both equally educative and engaging, and let me tell you, you have hit the nail on the head. The problem is something that not enough men and women are speaking intelligently about. Now i’m very happy I came across this in my hunt for something relating to this.

  19. I was very pleased to discover this great site. I want to to thank you for your time just for this wonderful read!! I definitely loved every part of it and I have you bookmarked to check out new stuff in your site.

  20. Howdy! This blog post couldn’t be written any better! Looking through this article reminds me of my previous roommate! He continually kept preaching about this. I am going to send this information to him. Fairly certain he’s going to have a very good read. Thanks for sharing!

  21. You are so interesting! I do not think I’ve truly read through a single thing like this before. So good to discover another person with original thoughts on this issue. Seriously.. many thanks for starting this up. This web site is something that is needed on the web, someone with a bit of originality!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>