Hello and welcome to my first blog post!
The following is an description of where I’ve been, where I’m at, and where I’m going on my path of aspiring botanical illustrator and educator.
I have always enjoyed drawing, reading, and working with my hands. While growing up, I amused myself with creative projects depicting animals, patterns and fictional character doodles. Despite these artistic tendencies and support from my parents to study art, I dreamed of making concrete contributions to science. I attended Northern Arizona University to pursue a career in the natural sciences and it was there I became completely enthralled with the botanical world, earning a degree in botany and a minor in anthropology in 2014.
At NAU, I was fortunate to work as assistant curator at Deaver Herbarium, organize the Botany Club‘s 2014 field trip to San Diego as president, and conduct undergraduate research on plant macro-fossils preserved in packrat middens. From 2011 to 2015, I worked on seasonal field crews largely supporting invasive organism management for Arizona Game & Fish, the Forest Service and the San Francisco Peaks Weed Management Area (of which I am currently a member).
The more I learned about and worked with plants, the more I was drawn to portray their fascinating complexity, form, color, texture, and character on paper. I was soon sketching plants and fungi in the field and studying the work of historical and contemporary botanical illustrators, rendering their art with my own hands to explore how they’ve chosen to depict their subjects. Seeing some of my informal plant portraits, my professor and boss at Deaver Herbarium hired me to illustrate for the students in her floristics class. The experience was amazing and I was hooked. I could seriously envision myself as a successful professional illustrator of the natural sciences- maybe even a career artist, selling originals all over the world! Dreams containing magnitudes blossomed.
As my knowledge, understanding, and appreciation of plants continues to grow, I am increasingly compelled to share my experiences, perceptions and enthusiasm with others. Though I find field work exhilarating and remain active in the control of invasive weeds, my artistic passion has become career goal: spreading pictorial and written information about plants as a successful artist and creative business owner. I aim to increase awareness about plants and our relationships with them through engaging illustration and educational publication. I’ve come full circle, using my technical education and experience to inform my artistic pursuits.
Toward these goals, I am attending ArtBox Institute 2016, an “artist incubator” organized and run by the Flagstaff Arts Council. This 5 month course is a series of lessons, projects and system of support for entrepreneurs working in or with the arts in northern Arizona. I am so grateful to be a part of this incredible program with an amazing, inspiring group of artists. The information I’m learning, the experience I’m gaining and the relationships I’m building are extremely valuable.
Other professional projects in the works include writing and publishing media on botanical subjects, a line of illustrated stationary and learning to paint watercolor. On this blog, I will post at least 3 times weekly about my artistic process, botany facts and history, reflections on life as an illustrator, gardening adventures and much more. Recurring posts will consist of Family Friday, Wildflower Wednesday and Wednesday Weeds: weekly and biweekly descriptions of plant families, native wildflowers and invasive plants.
Other than crawling through dirt and scaling cliffs in search of plants, my hobbies include reading, writing, small scale slow-food agriculture (aquaponics, hydroponics, animal husbandry, permaculture, bee keeping, etc.), community engagement projects, activism, yoga, meditation, hiking, biking, rock climbing, tattoo and power napping in the sun.
Personal projects focus on brushing the cobwebs from my yellow-green thumb to produce as much food as possible for myself and my partner on our modern “homestead.” We recently set up a flourishing indoor aquaponic system for micro-greens and are building a series of outdoor raised beds to try our hands at high altitude prairie farming. I’m also a burgeoning book maker.
Thank you for taking the time to learn about my journey! I hope it will encourage you to start or continue your own.