Leaves: The Universal Language of Form in Space. An Ode to Leafness



Why, as explorers of our visual world, do leaves become such a deeply pleasurable and resonant aspect of our experience of seeing?


Because we are curious enough to want to see, and gentle enough to appreciate the simple manifesting of the world around us, we can witness relationships of random, exquisitely tentative self-existing leaf-ness. There is no more pervasive and accessible metaphor for the delicacy and tenderness of our lives and all things in our world that are born, that live and grow old, and then die.


Leaves are blown about by the wind, flung far from the tree of their origin, to land helplessly wherever their fate determines, to settle a short time until they are caught up and swept away once again.


The infinite diversity of potential arrangements and positioning of leaves demonstrates the absolute and arbitrary power of chance and happenstance to create worlds of wonder.


Infinite arrays of leaf-ness are displayed upon the canvas of concrete, asphalt pavement, street, sidewalk, parking lot, back yard, porch, front walkway, front yard or field, car hoods, windshields, and on and on. The concrete or ground, whatever the surface is, is the basis of the fundamental simplicity of the situation. In a sense, everything, the leaves, whatever is there, is very still within the space. Nothing is really happening. There is a sense that everything is arranged, suspended within this moment in time, and the manifestation is taking place just in the moment we are seeing it.


We see, feel, and recognize the relationships that come together briefly upon the ground of this canvas. It is here that leaf-ness displays itself as color and line, and texture. Color, sometimes fresh and new, sometimes brilliant, then fading, finally empty of hue. Then there is the line, the shape of the outline of the leaf and its’ positioning in relationship to nearby leaves, stems, edges of rocks and concrete crevices. The line insinuates relationship with many possible qualities: tender, suggestive, inviting, longing, repressive, dominating, smothering, clinging.


The leaves are clumped, strewn, solitary, hanging by the thinnest tendrel of a spider’s web, suspended until the next gust of wind.


Often, just by looking deeply, we can feel within ourselves the pointed curve of an edge, the sensuousness of a leaf rolled back upon itself, the porous, delicately brittle veins of a dried out dead leaf, a drop of wetness after a rain resting on the leaf surface.


It is a simple experience to see leaf-ness, to taste it, and to feel enriched by it. We don’t need to think about what we see to understand. This world speaks for itself, and in its expression, makes us feel that perhaps that is what wisdom is.

© Julie DuBose. 2013