Land art: Mountain earth circles

Photos courtesy of Sylvain Meyer

Nature takes on a magical quality in these subtle yet sublime land art pieces by Swiss artist Sylvain Meyer.

With forests, meadows and mountaintops as his canvas, Meyer arranges meticulously ordered patterns and designs using a variety of ephemeral materials, including flowers, leaves, dirt, wood, berries, moss, stones and pretty much anything else he can get his hands on.

Land art: Flower infinity

This kind of work takes a lot of patience and time, but it also takes a certain amount of bravery to let go of a piece you've worked on and allow the Earth's forces to naturally dismantle it over time.

But that's exactly why land art is so fascinatingly beautiful. Once the artist completes the work, nature quickly takes over and gets to work with its own sculpting tools, which can include wind, water, fire, organic decay or even curious wildlife.

While at first it might seem depressing to watch the deconstruction of such painstaking work, think of it as a grand performance by nature. Depending on how permanent the artist's original installation is, this beautiful demonstration can last days, weeks, months, years or even centuries.

Continue below to see more of Meyer's fleeting masterpieces, and see all of his work on his Flickr.

Land art: Tree roots

Land art: Mossy spider

Land art: Tree root swirls

Land art: Wooden bird

Land art: Cliff pattern

Land art: Red swirly creek bank

Land art: Golden trees

Land art: Checkboard forest floor

Land art: Fallen tree

Land art: Wooden pattern on mountaintop

Land art: Red pattern near creek

Land art: Tree snake

Land art: Green forest pit

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Catie Leary is a photo editor at Mother Nature Network. Follow her on Twitter and Google+.

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Catie Leary ( @catieleary ) writes about science, travel, animals and the arts.