Born and raised in Columbia, Missouri, Marilyn Sunderland is an artist in the finest sense of the word. She can take a common gourd and turn it into a spectacular work of art by carving all kinds of images onto its shell and enhancing them with her painting.
Seeing how this Halloween a lot of websites are focusing on pumpkin art, like that of sculpting master Ray Villafane, I thought I’d show you something a bit different. Meet Marilyn Sunderland, a wonderful artist who’s become known for her intricate gourd carvings. Drawings inspiration from the beautiful landscapes in the Utah valley surrounded my mountains, where she’s been living for the last 30 years, this incredible artist etches incredibly detailed shapes into the shell of gourds creating awe-inspiring masterpieces. “Art has always been a part of my life. I have painted portraits, landscapes, and various other subjects with oils, acrylics, and pen/ink mediums. I also do wood carving and glass engravings,” Marilyn says on her site. She only took up gourd sculpting a few years ago, after buying an ultra-speed carving/etching tool, because she thought it was a versatile material. Turns out it was the right decision.
She starts out by carving the gourd with her special tool, often times cutting out individual leaves or flowers from other gourds and then attaching them to her artistic gourd to enhance the relief design, after which she uses oils, acrylics, wood stains or dyes to make the artwork even more impressing. “The gourd has become my canvas for my creative expressions. I enjoy the excitement of each day with what my imagination can bring forth in each gourd. I strive to learn more, create more, and to enjoy each day to the fullest,” Marilyn says.
Photos © Marilyn Sunderland