Life and Pears

The allure of supermarket pears is real: perfectly shaped, beautifully colored, promisingly sweet. Pears grown wild are not like that. They come warped and blemished; who knows what’s inside. Life and pears…not the way they’re supposed to be, but how they are. Sometimes sweet, sometimes rotten. “It’s how we cope that makes the difference.”

Life-Pears

watercolor and ink, Stillman & Birn “Beta” journal

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Beautifully Poisonous

I found a ring of impressive mushrooms in the lawn outside my son’s apartment in Lexington, Virginia last weekend. It had been raining for several days, which brought on the fall bloom. Curious, I picked these samples, drew them, and then did some research to identify them and learn more. How fun to discover something so beautifully poisonous!Chlorophyllum_mushroom

I’ve done many pages like this over the years. I love finding something that I don’t know much about, sketching it, taking notes, reading and researching, and combining it all on the page. The result not only records my experience, it also advances my awareness and understanding as a naturalist. If you are interested in art and nature, I highly recommend creating your own field sketches and notes. Pick up something of interest and see where it takes you!

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No Rules

“To me there are no rules…except those which your own feelings suggest and he who renders nature to make one feel sentiment of such, to me is the greatest man.”
— J. Alden Weir, 1876

As a pioneer of American Impressionism, J. Alden Weir set aside the artistic conventions of his day to explore new ways of painting. His words are a good reminder to me to take risks, connect with a subject, and express what I see and feel. While visiting Weir’s former home, now the Weir Farm National Historic Site in Connecticut, I had just a short time to sketch, so I don’t think I was altogether successful in illustrating his words. They really should be paired with the spreading oaks and maples, stone walls, red barns, and scenic landscapes of his farm. But who knows– maybe Weir would be forgiving, telling me to forget what “should be” and keep putting brush to paper.
Apples-WeirFarm