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Finding Nature Through Art: Part I

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but I believe it can be worth so much more. Truly, what each viewer gets out of my paintings will be unique to them, based on their own past experiences and perspectives. People are so much more complex than a picture. We all have our individual fears, insecurities, and traumas, as well as our own goals, inspirations, and interests. One thing I believe we can all relate to, however, is that we are of this earth. We all came from it, and we will all return to it.

Art is inseparable from the viewer, as are each of us with nature. I am consistently inspired by the intelligence of nature. I hope to inspire people to get in touch with whatever part inside of themselves connects with nature. I enjoy highlighting patterns and geometry that are found in nature and blend both realism and abstract ideas into my work.

Creating brings me purpose. It brings me process. It allows me to express my emotions and process my thoughts. It helps me to understand myself and my world around me, not only visually, but spiritually and metaphorically. I see imagery as symbols, not only in my work, but in life. Symbols help me to understand what I’m going through, where I'm headed, and why. They help me to see clearer in life, and they serve as affirmations in what I'm doing. Much of the symbolism in my work is nature based, whether it be birds, animals, plants, or flowers.

My creative process is unique to each painting I create. I don’t really have a formula that I stick to when I paint, rather I let the painting guide me and teach me as I’m painting. Usually, I do not know the depth of what I am painting even means until I am finished with it, as my paintings will sort of talk to me and tell me what stories they want to tell as I paint them. Sometimes I’ll have a rough idea or concept that I want to create, and other times I will have a detailed and thought-out sketch to start with. Most of the time, however, I will just start painting what I feel and see what comes through.

This was the case with a series of paintings entitled “Biological Blueprint”. It was a crisp autumn evening when a friend and I were having a late night paint session. I was initially feeling inspired by the fall colors that were all around me- burnt umber, dusty rose pink, fiery orange. I had my background all set and I went to work, unknowingly starting a sequence of paintings that would reflect on the changes of the seasons. The next painting in the series I made in springtime, that was inspired by the wildflowers I had been studying in school at the time, and the golden hour glow that always reminds me of the in between moments. I hope to complete the summer and winter versions of this series in the near future.

This next piece, entitled “Halcyon” was originally inspired by the rocky beach landscape. I had recently taken a trip to the Oregon coast to visit a friend, and the stark, rigid, rocks that protruded from the ocean water almost seemed like beings within themselves. Solid, strong, vigilant; they spoke to me as a symbol of staying grounded amongst the ever changing tide. The geometry came after I had been practicing different patterns in my sketchbook and decided it would contrast the landscape scene nicely. The kingfisher came to me last. I knew there needed to be a focal point, and I wanted to make the painting make sense, so a waterbird was perfect. I was inspired by the myth and folklore surrounding the symbol of the kingfisher, and it was pertinent to my own life experiences, growing up as a child on a quiet Halcyon Court.

The last series I will share is one that I just finished recently, while in quarantine. I call it “Meta-Morph” and it is inspired by the cycles of life, not only that butterflies go through but that we as humans go through too. I started it around the Worm full moon, which got its name because it falls during the time of year that the ground starts to warm up and the worms begin to move toward the surface. I’ve been seeing a lot of butterflies start to emerge from their slumbers as spring is in full swing, and yet I feel like I am in my cocoon during this time of social distancing. Now is a time to slow down and reflect and the life stages of a butterfly remind me that we will one day emerge out of this, better than what we were before.

Check back next week for Part II in our three-part "Finding Nature" series. We will be exploring connections to nature through backpacking, poetry, and more!

To learn more about Emma and our other AmeriCorps team members, check out our Meet the Team page! For more information about the Wetland Restoration Project, check out our website.


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