Capturing the Wonder of Wildlife, Celebrating the Joy of Childhood
Children and animals possess an inner spark that too often fades for many of us in adulthood. Peering into their eyes, you see not the harsh, complicated world reflected back at you, but the essence of innocence and unlimited possibility that radiates through.
For those who pause for a moment, to be inspired by the purity of nature and not by the manic, relentless drive for prescribed perfection, the world can be a mystical place full of excitement and endless opportunities. On those days we can’t escape the concrete and chaos that surrounds us, I hope my art gives people a reprise from the commotion of life, if even for a few minutes.
Growing up, I had a passion for drawing, teaching myself to sketch the flowers and animals that stirred my soul in nature. But my dream of becoming a professional artist ultimately had to be shelved in favor of the grown-up solution of earning a stable living. Yet, this pause opened the door to what one day would be my professional muse and my avenue for inspiring my audience.
As a pediatric physical therapist, I worked with incredible, inspiring children on a daily basis. But when I incorporated their pets and other animals into their therapy, their patience and diligence increased dramatically. Children and animals connect on a level that rarely accompanies us as we grow up. It’s inherently selfless, entirely generous and extraordinarily hopeful. They see no problems, just possibilities and solutions.
Their contagious exuberance urged me to break free from the mold society placed me in throughout early adulthood and reverted back to that moment in childhood when I immersed myself in nature with pencils and pastels in hand. The inner light I saw in my patients and their pets flowed through me onto my paper. When I finally had to retire from therapy due to my own disability, this inspired art become my full-time profession.
Just as I did in therapy, when it comes to my art, I get face-to-face with each subject, whether child or animal, to capture not just the picture, but the relationship and the experience, in order to pull out the emotion from every movement.
My goal is to be incredibly realistic in my portrayal of each subject to truly express the joy I felt in his or her presence. I want my audience to see the untainted elation in the eyes of a child and the almost human-like wonder in those of wildlife. To experience the autonomy and excitement that only come when one is not pushed back by judgment, and then to incorporate those feelings into their own lives, finding freedom in a world that too often values conformity over independence.
Life doesn’t give us much time to sit back and bask in the quiet simplicity and incredible hope that exists below the surface. But when we take a moment to slow down to be inspired by the uncorrupt, the end result is exceedingly powerful.
Paint St Louis Plein Air and Explore the Arts Festival May 18-20, 2018 in association with St Louis County Parks and the Missouri Botanical Gardens
Hidden Gems natural events calendar and photographic scavenger hunt for St Louis County Parks
Volunteer naturalist with Missouri Department of Conservation including art and photography classes in nature
Volunteer with Missouri Master Gardeners, Missouri Master Naturalists, Endangered Wolf Center, World Bird Sanctuary