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 :)