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The Nature of Art

Wow.  I was standing before a fallen redwood in northern California, and my young mind was utterly amazed.  Before this moment I had been only vaguely aware of my surroundings- my father’s employment had carried us around the country quite a bit.  But this was new and unlike anything I had ever encountered before.  Small for my age, my 4-yr old self stood before this huge thing filled with awe.  It was red and soft (tree?!?) with spongy moss and ferns sprouting out of it.  I felt like I was standing in the presence of Life itself.  That moment of wordless awe imprinted itself on my mind and determined forever the course of my life.  I went on to be a naturalist artist in an effort to express that thunderstruck moment and the love it engendered.

There aren’t many of those trees left.  That forest I stood in is now an industrial park.  It is inexpressibly sad to me that we would rather have redwood decks than redwood trees…

I mention this because I want to highlight the contrast between that sad loss and what I have found in the Chicago region.  People here actually care about the land here.  Hundreds of dedicated souls devote hours to learning about and helping to manage our prairies, wetlands and savannas.  Kudos, Chicago-land!!!

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Fine Art of Ecological Restoration

You may be wondering what it is like to be an artist… so I will tell you!  For may of us, earliest memories involve crayons and any available surface, sanctioned or not.  That was definitely the case for me, and the urge to cover surfaces with color and design has never left me.  This, combined with a degree in biology and exposure to prairie restoration has led to a very happy adulthood.

At first, of course, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to paint.  I only knew that paint I must.  Thankfully, I was asked to monitor butterflies at Illinois Beach State Park.  It has been my great pleasure to meet some fabulous people working to keep our natural areas healthy, both as professionals and volunteers.  In the process of learning what is what with butterflies I began to learn about plants, and I was smitten…