The Green Man

Don White's woodburned artwork -- "Oregon Green Man."

The “green man” motif has been around for a long time, with countless versions. I don’t know his origin (no one does), but I suspect it has to do with our natural love of nature, and feeling at home in our natural world. You’ll find different versions of him carved in medieval churches and other centuries-old buildings across Europe. It’s a common design element in antique European furniture, and vintage door decoration.

The Jolly Green Giant logo.

One of the modern manifestations is the friendly “Jolly Green Giant,” who has been convincing American children to eat their vegetables since 1928. 

The “green man” (or “wood spirits”) motif is popular among burn-artists today I believe partly due to the beautiful artwork and patterns of Lora Irish. The foliage bedecked faces she creates have a distinctively friendly, yet otherworldly appearance that fascinates the viewer. Also, there is something uniquely natural about creating tree-like characters by burning the image onto wood. 

Inspired by ancient European images, as well as Lora’s contemporary works, I’ve tried to create my own. In much of my burnart, there’s always the question as to whether or not to add color. Wood brings its own color, and I don’t want to distract from it. But occasionally it seems best to add color using some quality colored pencils (usually Prismacolor brand), and sometimes acrylic paint washes.

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