Artist Turns Driftwood Into Striking Sculptures That Capture The Beauty Of Nature

by Laura Caseley
Laura is a writer, illustrator, and artist living in New York City.

When most of us pass by an old piece of wood on the ground, we don’t look at it twice. After all, it’s just a stick, right?

But for Canadian artist Debra Bernier, the grooves, pits, and breaks in a piece of driftwood are tiny works of art, created by nature, and they’re inspirational jumping-off points for her earthy, magical artwork.

She adds to the driftwood pieces by carving in images of human and animal forms, creating sculptures that have a mystical, timeless quality. Inspired by nature, animals, and her children, Bernier’s work is a celebration of the natural world and humans’ relationship to it.

“The finished pieces are a reflection of not only my life, my family, and children, but of an eternal, sacred connection we all share with nature,” she says.

Wood is a naturally beautiful material that provides endless inspiration to artists, crafters, and designers. Whether it’s being carved into realistic sculptures or simply used as a canvas for paintings, it’s always full of unique beauty.

Bernier uses that beauty, as well as the natural wear and tear from the elements, as inspiration for her sculptures. Sometimes she also adds to the wood with other natural materials like shells or clay for even more detail.

Check out her artwork below, and the next time you see a piece of driftwood or a gnarled old branch, stop and look at it for a moment. You might just get inspired!

[H/T: BoredPanda]

Based in Victoria, British Columbia, artist Debra Bernier is endlessly inspired by the natural world around her, including the shells and driftwood that wash up on the Pacific shore.

Bernier has loved the beach and ocean since she was a kid, and always found it to be a place full of magic and inspiration.

“The little girl in me is still fascinated by the shapes in wood, the sun sparkling on the water, smooth gray stones, and salty seaweed,” she says.

Her sculptures combine the natural shape of the wood with the elements she carves by hand, creating a unique combination of nature and art.

Bernier uses the shape of the wood to inspire her sculptures, creating images of female angels and spirits. She also adds on details with clay, shells, and found objects.

“When I work with driftwood, I never start with a blank canvas,” she explains. “Each piece of driftwood is already a sculpture, created by the caresses of the waves and wind.”

“The wood tells a story and I try to think of its journey as I hold it in my hand. I extend or shorten the curves and contours that already exist into familiar shapes of animals or peoples’s faces.”

Her creations are serene and feel connected to the natural world, like elemental spirits of trees and the ocean.

They’re also mostly female, and show the power and strength of women and mothers.

This mermaid carving incorporates a shell that resembles a pregnant belly, evoking ideas of both nature and motherhood.

Bernier also uses clay and shells to create her sculptures, like this one of a mother and child in a beautiful pink conch.

Her driftwood pieces, meanwhile, look almost like wands, and their rough, imperfect surfaces make them look like they could come from an ancient time.

And they also manage to capture a range of emotions and human experiences, all mapped out in the texture of the wood and the delicate carving that Bernier adds.

Some of her sculptures hint at the multilayered experiences of women, including love, connection, and children, but also healing, uncertainty, and inner strength.

These beautiful sculptures are available for purchase on Bernier’s Etsy shop, where you can also get inexpensive printed cards of the pieces. You can also keep up with Bernier’s latest projects on her Facebook.

SHARE these quietly gorgeous pieces of art with anyone who loves and is inspired by nature.