Natural Wonders: Interpretation vs Illustration
Do you know how it is, to take a break in life to ask yourself “What am I doing? And why am I doing it?” Eventually, you realize that all those disjointed starts and stumbles that have brought you to question yourself are only steps along a path that has similarities and common meaning throughout–despite its seemingly chaotic progression. That has happened to me. Art and the study of nature have been constants in my life and thinking. At ten years old, I declared that my life goal and motto was: Grow with wisdom, be trustworthy and learn to realize and relish the beauty of nature. In maturity, I don’t think I have strayed too far from that ideal. As I sought wisdom, my skills grew and improved in both my teaching and my artmaking. They are both parts of my path that complement one another and bring me new insights. They also encourage change. Despite my initial studies in art, which included portraiture, figure drawing, and multiple media, I have always returned to representing nature in various media and subject matter. : I.e. birds, animals, and landscape. Most recently, I spent a few years immersed in botanical illustration. It honed my drawing skills and my ability to render but it left me feeling constrained by rules that weren’t my own. I want to do more than represent nature. I want to interpret it. What I loved about botanical art was observing how a petal glows in the back light of the sun, or how pattern and texture in an inflorescence demands attention and interest. I want to make art that speaks to those qualities of nature that attracted me in the first place. In the past year, I have been experimenting. My subject matter has changed, and my approach is more expressive. I have taken more chances and used them in an attempt to distill and interpret common experiences of nature, the action of a wave, the power of a rainstorm, the colors of a field, the varying textures exposed in a pool of water or a piece of ground, or the frightening menace of an unsteady accumulation of rocks. These are all moments that we have experienced, but they are also moments that confront us with a much bigger story. I am also concerned with the lack of time our culture spends in the outdoors and the serious issues confronting our natural world. I’d like to say to the viewer, “Look closely, can we really live without taking time for reflection on underpinnings of this natural beauty? What happens if we are forced to live in a world that doesn’t appreciate nature? How does that affect the quality of life in general?” I don’t know the answer, but I feel that the exploration and risk taking involved in finding out is worth the effort. I am also finding that this is the same path that I have always taken, but, to me, it is more authentic.