Natural Inspiration Pt. I

Artwork / Tuesday, August 20th, 2019

I grew up in a space that allowed and encouraged me to explore the world around me. One, because my parents were always outside (meant I was always outside) and two because when they weren’t they didn’t want me inside playing Nintendo or watching too much TV.

My grandmother lived two blocks from us and her home was on a lake. Even though she had a boat that I never went on because I was scared (I was also scared of motorcycles, thanks to my uncles) I loved being by the water and exploring all the plants and wildlife. I used to count how many different types of plants there were, catch tadpoles and minnows, and look for dragonfly eggs on cattails.

My father was a firefighter by trade but he was passionate about gardening and landscaping. He was conservationist, a naturalist, a cyclist, photographer, and even beekeeper!

He’s the tall guy in the middle

When I was a teenager my father built a greenhouse. I learned how to collect and plant seeds. I helped with the watering system he built by himself. I helped him plant trees, weeded garden beds and helped mow. I not only learned how to take care of plants but I also learned how to care for animals. We had dogs, rabbits and ducks!

My dad took this photo on his 35mm

The time my parents had off we were traveling somewhere in our camper. We spent time camping all over Florida, including Key West and the Everglades. My parents preferred more remote areas so we spent less time at the beach (atypical Florida people) and lots of time in State and National Parks that had lots of high tree canopies and rivers. I’ve been to Cades Cove and Elkmont (Smokey Mountains, Tennessee) more times than I can count. I spent a lot of time going to “Ranger Talks”, hiking, and exploring nature trails. We loved sitting by the fire at night, watching raccoons run by our campsite, and listening to the sounds in the woods at dusk.

Campsite in Colorado
My dad and I on a hike!

If I’m being honest, I’m kinda a country girl. I’ve been hunting. I’ve picked fruit, driven a tractor, tilled soil, gone cow tippin’ and “gator shinin” (that’s where you go out at night on boats and shine huge spotlights to find gators = illegal), I’ve killed (eek!) a rabbit (at a missions camp setup to teach what it’s like to live in an underdeveloped country H.E.A.R.T) and helped trap a hog. Oh my! Even though I wouldn’t do those things now (#vegetarian) I cannot deny how much they shaped the person I am today.

Contemplating Arizona
Some (ancient?) drawings we found on rocks hiking in Utah
In my dad’s jacket somewhere in Wyoming
My mom and I in Yellowstone
Basically me in real life and in my head every second of the day.
Wondering, wandering, investigating and contemplating.
This is one of my favorite photos of me in my element!
(taken by my dad)

As you can see from the title of this blog this is Part I. In part one I wanted to give you an idea of how I grew up. I also wanted to take some time to remind myself of all of the things I have to celebrate. I’ve had many opportunities that others haven’t. I know people who have never even been out of their home state. I’ve been in this many (the ones in pink):

I’ll tell you one more story and you’ll either laugh or cringe, or both. So we traveled to a LOT of state and national parks. I saw a LOT of animal skins. They were hanging on walls, being sold in stores, and were generally everywhere we went. I thought they were so cool but my mom would never let me buy one. Fast forward to high school Biology class where we dissected a cat. Good ole’ Mr Bass let me take the skin home. I worked really hard on cleaning it (with Dove soap) on the back porch. I was so proud. I was drying it out and I was going to hang it up in my room-but I’m pretty sure I went to inspect it one day and there were ants all over it so I threw it out. To this day I can’t smell Dove soap without thinking of the cat skin.

It wasn’t until I became an adult that I learned everyone thought it was creepy. I told my husband that story and he confirmed the creepiness factor so now when I say something (supposedly) creepy like-hey, can we pickup that dead bird and take it home?-he says “catskin” and I roll my eyes and mumble stuff about how it isn’t really creepy and it isn’t my fault people are uncomfortable with death death and what about taxidermy? (But it seems okay that I collect smaller bits of insects, skin, wings, turtle shells, bones, etc. and hang them up in a printers tray on my wall *shrugs* )

supposedly not creepy letterpress tray items

Part II will be a little more on my art process. Specifically how I am inspired and how I incorporate my environment in my art! I’ll leave with you with a photo of my mom and I in Ohio last year after it started snowing and we ran outside!