On December 5, I will be opening a solo show of my work at five pins project in San Francisco. As a departure from my more formal scientific illustration work, I am taking this opportunity to make some playful, interactive pieces. I am also revisiting a more sculptural process, something I explored more in my early undergraduate career as an art student at Portland State University.
The walnut shell boats are an expansion on my contribution to the “Whatever Floats Your Boat” exhibit at Apricity Gallery here in Santa Cruz. These are a nod to my childhood, when we would make tiny boats out of walnut shells to float down the gutters of our street. It is such a delight to make such simple and beautiful little objects out of only materials found in nature.
I will also be showing a small group of moveable butterfly sculptures. These are an exploration of a newly-discovered interest in these extraordinary creatures. I intentionally chose species whose upper- and under-wing patterns are very different, especially in showiness. I love how something so bright and flashy as a Sonoran Blue or so boldly patterned as a Sara Orangetip can change so dramatically in appearance when they fold their wings.
All in all, this show is about exploring some very simple things that bring me great joy. Whether watching a tiny boat float down the street in the rain or marveling at the flash of color as a butterfly passes by on a trail, I am constantly striving to connect to my experience of simple pleasures.
I hope you will join me at five pins on Friday, December 5 to experience some of these joys for yourself.
About a month ago, I saw a call for submissions to a show called “Whatever Floats Your Boat”. The parameters were simple: each submission had to be a functioning boat, smaller than 10″ long and made entirely of natural materials. No tape, glue, paint, metal, etc.. I was so excited by this challenge that I started collecting materials right away, picking up leaves from various trees on my way home. I figured out the sail part of the boat pretty quickly but the hull seemed more complicated. Then I remembered racing boats in the gutters on our street when I was a kid. We used walnut shells from the neighbor’s tree! They were simple and excellent little vessels.
So I got myself some whole walnuts, cut them up with a borrowed Dremmel, and got to work. I experimented with many different kinds of leaves: oak, laurel, azalea, ivy, tan oak. I also dug into my store of feathers for a little variety. I attached all of these little sails with melted beeswax and tested my tiny vessels in bowls of water in the kitchen.
An armada of 6 boats will be on display at Apricity Gallery at the Tannery Art Center here in Santa Cruz. The show opens on September 5 and runs through the month. If you miss it this time, the boats will make a second appearance in San Francisco this December.
I have been a busy bee lately! With September fast approaching, I am trying to get some projects done (or at least advanced). So I spent some quality time working on the mural earlier this week. I’m both refining parts that are already there and filling in spaces that I was neglecting. Can you see what details I’ve added or changed?
I have an exhibition in San Francisco this winter and I wanted to try something a little different for it. I’m working on some small, loosely painted installation pieces that have moving parts. The process of making these has involved some experimental engineering and more than a few prototypes. I’m still working out some of the details but here’s a preview of what I’ve been doing:
Like I said, I’ve been remiss in my updates and now I’m working to correct that.
The mural has come a long way since my last post! We’ve added plenty of color and texture, personality and interest to this project. I have re-learned to handle acrylic paint on a large scale. I’ve remembered the importance of looking at something from far away to get a better perspective (visually & mentally) on it. I’ve enjoyed hearing feedback from strangers & friends alike as this project continues to develop.
Here, see for yourself!
I have been remiss in my updates! About a month ago, I completed some pen & ink illustrations for a book on Native Californians. Initially, I was simply going to illustrate some Valley Oak leaves and acorns. The twin acorns will serve as a design element throughout the book. The leaves and acorns serve to illustrate an important food source for the people living in the northern Sacramento Valley.
Then my client asked if I could illustrate some baskets and other artifacts. I was thrilled to take on the additional work. It’s been awhile since I did any pen and ink work and I forgot how much I enjoy it! Here’s a look at a couple of the illustrations:
One thing I do to keep myself connected to citizen science projects as well as to continue honing my field-sketching skills is to volunteer to monitor nesting raptors at Pinnacles National Park. This past weekend, as temperatures in the park hovered around 100 degrees, I spent two full days hiking and observing nest sites throughout the park. This is a tough year for nesting raptors so each site is precious and the data I help collect gives park staff a better understanding of both the current and long term raptor behaviors at Pinnacles.
One of the highlights this weekend was observing three Red-shouldered Hawk nestlings who are just about ready to fledge. I use a spotting scope so that I can get a good, close-up view of the birds without being close enough to disturb them.
Back at home, I have another project that involves contributing pen and ink illustrations to a monograph on two groups of Native Californians. My illustrations are of Valley Oak leaves and acorns as well as baskets woven by these groups. I am so excited to be working on this project and to be doing some new pen and ink work. Here’s a preview of those sketches:
This promises to be a busy few weeks but I am looking forward it!
Please also remember that my Monarch piece is still up at the Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History as part of the annual Art of Nature exhibit. The show runs through June 30.
Painting a mural is no joke! We have a huge wall (8′x16′) to paint and with both of us working full time, it’s hard to find large blocks of time to dedicate to this project. What’s more, because of the public nature of the project, there’s the added component of questions, comments, and other interruptions. While that’s all fine and good, it does slow us down.
But despite all the excuses (work, weather, other projects, life), we’ve recently been motivated to get back to work by the presence of new murals going up around us and a run of spectacularly gorgeous days. Plus, it would be embarrassing if it took us a whole year to get this done!
So back to work we are and we’ve made some significant progress over the past couple of days. Enjoy!