Interacting with Flora and Fauna, Translating Messages from the Muse
Pretty much all of my art is influenced and inspired by my surroundings here at Wild Ozark. Although I listed the flora and fauna in the title, it’s more than just that. I don’t know the word to encompass all that it is, except for … Sacred. I’ll try to describe to you what it is about my life here that moves me. Little interactions maybe some people never notice.
These little interactions are the ways in which my muse speaks to me. The messages are given through the flora and fauna of my habitat, and I (try to) pass it along to you in the form of art. This task is something I consider to be sacred. Everything about the act of doing it, from gathering the rocks to the destruction and subsequent re-creation into usable paints, to the transference of an idea into reality on paper… it all is part of a sacred art.
An Indirect Translation
Sometimes what I see and experience isn’t exactly what I paint. But whatever it is that I do paint, it is always influenced by what I have seen, heard, felt, or experienced. Sometimes I don’t have a direct translation of that. And sometimes, I am just moved to express it differently.
I have yet to paint a song bird. Mostly, that’s because I lack the colors to do them justice. But it’s also because I simply haven’t been moved enough to try. But one day I will attempt to paint a picture of these Orioles. And I actually might be able to get close enough to the proper colors.
Flora and Fauna
As always, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. These are the things that give me inspiration. It’s the way my muse speaks to me, and often the message is given through the flora and fauna of my habitat.
It is the scent of the moss and detritus on the forest floor after a rain. The lilt and timbre of the creek’s voice, and how different it is from spill to spill- each location has its own voice. How my heart pounds when I’ve discovered a plant I haven’t seen in more than a decade, or when I’ve almost stepped on a rattlesnake well-hidden in the gravel. It’s how cool the earth feels after I’ve brushed away the humus cover to expose the moist, silty soil beneath, even on a hot summer day.
There is pleasure in waiting for the best things in life. Short waits bring quicker joys, and are always appreciated. But the way I felt after the decade that passed between the first spotting of a showy orchid found nestled in a hidden fold on the western slopes to the one that I found on the northern side of an entirely different mountain – that is the joy of recognition of kith and kin not seen in years.
It is the silence of solitude, which in reality isn’t silence at all and it really isn’t solitude. To have someone in my life to share all of this with, a shared solitude, a someone who understands this definition of beauty, because he understands it is by extension what defines me, is a form of beauty in its own right. That we are able to share this connection even while occupying space on opposite sides of the world is taking it to yet another level of special.
If I’ve given you the impression that I absolutely love my life out here among the flora and fauna of Wild Ozark, that was intentional. And when I make art, my intention is to share this incredible life with others. I hope to reach those who may need this perspective, because maybe there isn’t the opportunity to experience it first hand as often as they might like.
Or maybe there’s a wall somewhere that just needs a little more flora and fauna hanging on it.
Flora and Fauna – Not?
It seems wrong to not consider the lifetimes and lives of inorganic things such as rocks as flora and fauna. They’re not carbon-based, and so are not considered ‘alive’. I’ve always wondered why we define life so narrowly as only that which consists of a carbon base. I consider the earth itself to be alive, and although its composition contains a lot of carbon, there is a lot that is not.
Rocks hold the indelible records of life on earth. (Caution – that’s a woo-woo concept I’ve linked to there.) And that leads to the logic I used to arrive at the name of my pigment collections. If our bodies are the vessels that hold our souls, and our souls are where the record of our lives are held, then it is the rocks that are the collective soul of the earth. Now this is my own interpretation of what our souls are, and what the earth’s soul is. Your own belief systems will dictate what you believe. However, this is why I name all of my paint collections made from the rocks of this land ‘Soul of the Ozarks’. Any collections I make from other locations will use the name of that place instead of Ozarks.
Art is Sacred – Sacred Art
I’ve never give much thought to why I like to create art. It’s been a drive and urge present in me since I was a child. For the better part of my adult life I smothered it, ignored the call, and passed it off as a trivial matter that ought to give way to the more important things like making a living. At least I didn’t pass off my love of flora and fauna in that way. My foray into the sciences as I found the means to make the money to live on is due to that love of nature.
In a roundabout way, I worked with rocks even before learning about their pigments. Before pigments, it was their composition that I dealt with – inorganic trace metals and minerals. Though I really enjoyed analyzing soils and materials to see what parts contributed to the whole, I have found my passion in making use of the iron and manganese oxides that give the rocks their pigment colors.
Today’s find, for example, caused quite a stir in my pulse when I did the preliminary rub-test with it, fresh out of the creek.
Maybe it’s not flora and fauna, technically, but it’s definitely part of nature. The opportunities I’ve had to interact with and relate to nature makes me feel as if I’m privy to secrets. It’s so hard to make this connection, though not impossible, in settings surrounded by a man-made habitat.
These secrets are sacred and I feel so honored to be privy to them. It is my sacred art to make the paints and resulting paintings. I am sharing with you the stuff earth is made of, which is the same stuff you and I are made of, the stuff of the Universe. In this way, every bit of every thing that ever existed – and that exists now, or is not yet in existence – are connected. That is why art is sacred (and not just my art). It is an expression of our connected-ness. Using pigments of the earth just cements that bond a little tighter.
There is an art to simply living the sort of life I strive to live, and that too is a sacred art. In what ways do you feel such a connection to what you’re doing that to do it feels sacred? I believe to take note of such a thing is to notice the signs that tell you you’re walking the road that leads through happiness. Even if there are obstacles, potholes, and detours to navigate.
Paintings in Earth Pigments
Here’s some of my art. (And btw… If you’re a regular here to read my blog, I am NOT hawking my wares to you. I’m putting this here for the newcomers and people who land here from internet searches, who may not know I have prints or paintings available.) I’m still adding prints to my inventory and have a ways to go yet before I’m caught up. You can see all the paintings I’ve made so far at my gallery pages at PaleoPaints.com.
Prints on Watercolor Paper | Fox No. 1 “Little Rascal”$3.00 – $10.00
Archival Print | Fire Goddess | “Inanna on Fire”$3.00 – $10.00
Prints on Watercolor Paper | Bobwhite Quail “A Curious Pair”$10.00 – $45.00
Bald Eagle Prints | Archival on Textured Paper$10.00 – $75.00
Red-Tailed Hawk Print$45.00 – $75.00
Nature Fantasy Print – “Working the Dark Waters”$15.00 – $45.00
Landing Goshawk Prints$15.00 – $55.00