Sunday, July 11, 2010

Summer Days...

I will be busy over the next couple of weeks with two new projects that I have the privilege of working on. One is illustrating a Celtic dulcimer CD cover and the other will be the cover of nature curriculum. Yesterday I had a reception in Eureka Springs at The Jewel Box and sold my very first original ever to a special friend :) I am thankful for that and everything I have been blessed with. It was way too hot to demo outside so I had to stay inside a large portion of the time. There was a fiddle player that performed outside the Eureka Fine Art Company as it got dark. Today I went down to my garden to check on it. In just a week and a half my plants have grown so much. My bell peppers are already setting fruit and I was able to harvest some basil today because it was starting to flower. Next year I will be able to plan ahead and get some really rare varieties of vegetables to try. I've always been interested in raising old-fashion heirloom varieties of plants. Not only do they add genetic diversity to the world, they often come in unusual colors and patterns. The Seed Savers Exchange is a great organization that promotes growing heirloom plants and many rare varieties can be obtained from their seed catalog.
   We've also adopted another little dog (a mini Schnauzer) so our mini Dachshund could have a friend. His name is Happy, and is better behaved than Little Man (the Dachshund)! They seem to really get along and little Man is a lot less needy and sad when we have to work. This weekend I have an art walk in Rogers from 4-9 on Friday. I hope I don't roast to death! I'm bringing a 24-pk of bottled water with me :) Other than that the only other art event going on is on the 24th. I will have a booth and sell my art at the Botanical Garden of the Ozark's Firefly Fling:
I'm preparing labels with the common and scientific names of all of the wildlife and flower cards I sell to go on my greeting card rack. Whew! I'm thankful I have a lot to do...

Friday, June 18, 2010

The International Butterfly Festival and the Disaster in the Gulf

I feel like June has come and gone without warning. Time seems to fly by so quickly in the spring and summer yet it always seems to stand still in the boring months of January and February :P Oh well. I am on a semi-art show break for the summer though I still have some events next month and one today. This evening I will be selling my art on the sidewalk in front of Poor Richard's Art in downtown Rogers across from the park. The third Friday evening of the month from May to September they have sidewalk artists sell their art outside. I participated in this art walk last year and this past month; I look forward to seeing some familiar faces tonight. I always though Rogers had a very cute old-fashioned downtown district and I know the residents are very proud of and want to preserve it. The day has dawned beautifully so perhaps the weather might hold. I am looking forward to next weekend because my birthday is coming up on July 1st and like last year Josh is taking me to the International Butterfly Festival in Paris. The Ouachitas are beautiful like the Ozarks but in a different way. They are taller and real mountains, not plateaus like the Ozarks. I always thought the Ozarks looked more like mountains because they are more rolling. The Ouachitas near Paris rise up abruptly out of the flat River Valley. It's always a sight to behold driving down there. Last year we left at 4:30 am so we could make it up to the early morning hike. The interpreter attracted a Scarlet Tanager (they are shy and I had never seen one before) and a male Indigo Bunting, who thought the bird call the guide used was a rival male. The bunting sang right in front of us! I am happy to say that Indigo Buntings are very common at our new home and we see them at our bird feeder every day. I recently snapped a good picture of one and it's on my drawing to-do list :) Last night we walked around Terra behind our house and saw a doe. She seemed very tame and kept feeding while we watched her; deer are never hunted on Terra property. This year we are hoping to get up there even earlier or camp overnight so we can go on the moth hike at 6:00 am. Last year they saw a Luna Moth while on that hike! Lori Spencer, the author of Arkansas Butterflies and Moths, will be leading that hike. I bought her book last year there and had her sign it. It has been a wonderful and useful guide since. I am hoping to snap a picture of a Diana Fritillery while at Mt. Magazine. This species is declining and the park is a valuable habitat for them. It is also the State Butterfly of Arkansas. Unlike many butterflies both sexes are beautifully marked in vary different coloration and many have thought they were different species. Males are bright orange and brown while females are a gorgeous bright blue and black. I can hardly wait to hopefully have some pictures to draw from!
   While the summer goes on in all its beauty I continue to watch the disaster unfold in the gulf. It is heartbreaking this ever happened. I wonder how many safety standards were neglected. 11 people lost their lives as well as thousands of animals. Many sea turtles and pelicans were killed; the Brown Pelican was removed from the US federal endangered and threatened species list just last November! I wonder now if it may have to be put back on it :( The marshes are also being destroyed and that is a catastrophe in and of itself, not only because of the habitat they provide. Marshes also act as buffers between the ocean and land. I don't think we will know the full affects of this for quite some time. One thing I saw that infuriates me is that BP was withholding pictures of oil-soaked and dead animals and literally "whisking them away" out of the media's sight. They don't want the destruction to be seen! What about the animals they whisked away that were still alive? How cruel! What about the shrimper? The fisherman? The seafood diner? The hotel? The surf shop? Everyone down there is losing the tourism and seafood industry, their source of livelihood. How can they pay their house payment or rent now? How can they feed their children? This is a terrible thing and I'm angry about it like our nation is now. I feel so helpless and unable to do anything! I am too poor to donate much of anything, I wish I was rich and could give millions! I can't take off a week to drive down there and volunteer. All I know is that this will be going on for a while, and it will takes decades to recover. The marshes and ocean may never be the same there :( My hope is that this will wake us up to the fact that #1 we cannot be lax on safety standards and #2 we have to get away from oil as a fuel source. It will run out one day anyhow then we will be in the same oil-soaked boat. It will take the greatest minds, scientists, engineers, and many others working together to figure out our energy crisis. I want a solution to this mess, I think everyone does.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Sun Rays Through the Trees...

Several weeks ago my husband and I moved to a rental cabin at Terra Studios. I love it! We basically live in a forest now and I work at a bakery, Ozark Natural Breads, within walking distance. I am so thankful for my new home and being closer to nature. We have a bird feeder and a hummingbird feeder on our front porch and so far I've seen Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, Indigo Buntings, Cardinals, Chickadees, Tufted Titmice, Downy Woodpeckers, Red-bellied Woodpeckers, and Crows. Walking to work the other morning I saw a pair of Killdeer pretending like they had broken wings because their eggs were nearby. I also saw a rabbit and plenty of squirrels and I'm sure I'll see some deer one day on my morning walk. Terra Studios is unlike anywhere else. It is an artist community of sorts; I have sold my art there for nearly two years and it was the first gallery I have ever had my art in. There is a lil' coffee shop there that sells sandwiches, cookies, and delicious quiches. My little dog also loves his new home! I have a one-day art show on Saturday and after that no more until the fall except the Bentonville Artsfest on June 11th. I will be spending the summer making new drawings, researching stuff to do next year, figuring out how to screen print my designs on clothing, bags and umbrellas (I'll probably have someone else do it for me!), and preparing for the fall shows. I have a lot planned but I also want to relax and enjoy the forest around me. I'm looking forward to getting some good nature pics too!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Nature Journaling and Unit Studies

With Mother's Day coming up this weekend will be busy with shoppers out with or getting presents for their moms. May is a beautiful month to celebrate our mothers and everything they've done for us. I wanted to write a special post about my Mom who has been a significant influence on my art. Growing up I was homeschooled and lived in rural areas so nature was often integrated into out lesson plans. One of my favorite memories was of making nature journals. What is a nature journal exactly? Nature journals are just blank notebooks (they can be any size or shape, whatever you have on hand). In them the child will write down the date and may record weather, the temperature, wind speeds or other weather statistics for the day, and about any plants or animals he or she observed that day. Some children might press flowers or leaves in these notebooks as well. Nature journals were popular with educators in the 1800's as a way of teaching nature to children through first-hand experience. I think it is also valuable to teach how the seasons change and how everything is connected via the local food chain. One could draw the same tree each season to show how it changes. Nature journals are also a great way to learn about new species that one might find. That is why many children (and adults) who keep these journals take field guides out with them also. Some people who keep nature journals also include poetry. I remember drawing birds, insects, flowers, and other creature in my nature journal. My favorite entry was of a baby Mockingbird :)
   Another thing I remember that has also influenced my art is of the nature unit studies we did. Sometimes we would have a unit study on a particular aspect of nature, for example we did one on birds. I remember getting a giant bird field guide around that time and I still have it. Drawing was sometimes integrated into my Mom's unit studies. I have always enjoyed focusing on different subjects that I study and draw and unit studies helped me hone my research skills early on. As a teenager I spent a lot of time drawing and practicing and my Mom encouraged me to follow my art and to never get discouraged.
   I hope that everyone has a wonderful Mother's Day and I want to say thank you for everything you've done for me over the years, Mom. I probably wouldn't be where I am now if it wasn't for your influence :)

Friday, April 30, 2010

Starving Artists

Ever heard the expression "starving artists?" That expression may be more relevant than one would realize. Granted there are many artists that do well and can live off their art. Then there are artists who have to work a day job(s) to pay the bills. There are artists who are well off and there are artists who live below the poverty line. Artists come from all walks of life, different ages, experience and more. I think this diversity one of the great things about the art world. My thoughts today are on the reality of being a professional artist. It can be hard and there are many road blocks along the road to success. A good example are outdoor art shows. Bad weather can ruin an art show that an artist was counting on to go well. The economy has affected retail sales everywhere and art is no exception.
   The bottom line is that when you are doing what you love, there is no monetary value to that. All of the money in the world cannot buy happiness. That is why artists do what they do, even if it is hard. It can be a difficult life, but a life filled with the happiness and the enrichment of life experiences and friendships