Russell Morton's "The Four Seasons of Water"

Russell Morton is an artist with a message. An advocate for clean water, he hopes that the energy he puts into his art will have a positive effect on the physical world. Russell has created a one-of-a-kind beaded canvas that you have to see to believe--a canvas he hopes will change the world for the better.

Started in January 2006, this canvas project created over 13 years is a seed-beaded mural that expresses the prayer of clean water for the world. Russell refers to The Four Seasons of Water, also known as 4 H20, as his effort to clean up Earth's water in his lifetime.

Each piece is 60 x 45 inches, and the four pieces together (four seasons) are five feet tall and an impressive 15 feet long. Russell used almost every beading stitch imaginable, including many he created himself. The canvas includes over 3 million beads and 15,000 yards of cotton thread. The finished hemp canvas, including beads, weighs in at 100 pounds!

Russell wrapped the beaded image around a large drum that rotates slowly with an overhead light to simulate the sun. This "sun" projects shadows on the cylinder sides--shadows intentionally omitted in the beadwork. Many old beliefs contend that a person without a shadow is a ghost paying a visit, as the spirit world has no shadow. If Four Seasons of Water is born of the spirit world then the artificial lighting will bring it into the realm of earthly existence.

In 2019 Russell donated his completed work to the Island County Museum where it is on permanent display in the Native People Exhibit.


Water in Spring Beaded Design Detailed View of Spring Design


Water in Summer Beaded Design Detailed View of Summer Design


Water in Fall Beaded Design Detailed View of Fall Design


Water in Winter Beaded Design Detailed View of Winter Design

Russell once posted that the Four Seasons of Water is the ultimate form of intense, slow art. "When folks come to see my work in progress, it is hard to explain the depth of involvement that cannot be stitched into the fabric," Russell states. "Every morning I would scan the weather charts to see where and how much water is predicted to fall over the next 36 hours. I also checked a national web page for drought conditions. It is not my intent to control water, but to learn as much as possible about it. Like watching animal behavior, I observe and consider." His powerful message through art is building awareness of the need for clean water on our planet--one bead at a time.

Russell taught himself to bead as a teenager in the '60s. He attended college, raced bicycles, got married and had a small family--then he returned to beading. Most of his adult life has been in the absence of television. Russell is an avid reader and has read many books covering the subjects of ancient religions, shamanism and even modern neurology. His intellect and compassion for our planet can be witnessed in the beautiful bead work he creates.

To learn more about Russell's artwork including his new Gratitude Project, visit his blog at

Customer Comments

We would like to share some of the customer comments we received in response to the article "Russell Morton's ''Four Seasons of Water''" as featured in an email newsletter. Please keep in mind that the comments expressed below are those of our customers and do not reflect the views of Fire Mountain Gems and Beads.

"Russell Morton's beadwork was inspiring. Thanks"

"Good newsletter. Good diversity of projects showcased. I was inspired by the story mosaic masterpieces. Good reminder of beads for education; i had been on their site b4, it was refreshing to visit again."
- Karyn

"Thank you--inspirational pieces like this are appreciated because people like me will think about devoting more time to beading (and buying the supplies from you). Believe it or not, I still have the essay (it appeared in a catalog) from a woman who worked her way out of poverty by beading cow skulls."
- Deborah