Guest blogger Maja Woods introduces us to Santa Rosa artist Mary Jarvis.

Mary Jarvis has been creating oil paintings of wood grain designs—and only these paintings of wood grains—for the past 10 years.

mary jarvis Woodgrain 1B15-2B15Why would someone spend a decade painting wood grain designs? When asked, Jarvis just shrugs and says she finds the paintings beautiful and she finds joy in creating them. I have to agree that those are two very good things to find.

Woods have always been a big part of Jarvis’ life. Growing up in Wisconsin, her family would spend their vacations in a cabin in the forest. These were long, carefree days of playing in the woods. Then, at night, before going to sleep, she would lie in bed staring up at the cabin ceiling. Perhaps the daydreams of those childhood days became entangled with the wood grain designs she stared up at each night. Whatever the case, if you look back at Jarvis’ childhood notebooks and old school papers, you’ll notice that the margins are full of the looping, thumbprint-like designs of wood grain.

UribeMary_studio 1Later on as an adult, as she was sketching out other art projects, Jarvis noticed that those wood grain designs were still popping up in the margins. Eventually, she decided to paint one of them.

“It was quite a revelation to actual paint it. Up until then, my memories of wood grain were from our cabin in the forest. It was in a natural, earthy context. And the doodles were in pen or pencil, so they were monochrome. But then, once I had those oil paints in my hands, the pictures I made were very intense and colorful. Part of it is rooted in a traditional Midwestern upbringing. Part of it is from this no-holds-barred, avant-garde lifestyle I led for many years. And part of it is simply about freedom. There’s a respect for nature and tradition, and also for the wildness that breaks those rules.”

mary jarvis gallery“Woodgrain 1B15-2B15” by Mary Jarvis is currently on display at the Calibi Gallery, 456 10th St, Santa Rosa, CA 95401″