My very first paint made from sandstone earth pigments.

Nature Art Recap for the Month of June

The past weeks were very creative ones for me with nature art. I tried something new and have found a new passion that’s bound to grow with a little time – milling pigments! Next step in that exploration is making handmade watercolor paints. I also spent some time making a couple new Forest Folk. Here’s June’s nature art recap of endeavors at Wild Ozark.

Nature Art Recap

Pigments Right Outside the Back Door

This has turned out to be an all-consuming passion! It started in my mind years ago when I noticed the beautiful the color inside the cracked sandstone rocks on the driveway. Then when the grand-kids were over the other day I picked up one of the cracked rocks and decided to give grinding it in the mortar and pestle a go.

And it definitely went! Making pigments takes a person very close to the earth and is an immersive sort of nature art. The kids (and the kitchen) were very dirty when we were done.

This little experiment really set my wheels to turning. A longer post about making pigments and watercolor paints will come in August. For now, here's a nature art recap for June.
This little experiment really set my wheels to turning.

There will almost certainly be a line of Wild Ozark Earth Pigments arising from this. So far I’ve made a beautiful brown, nice yellow, and am working on a green right now. After my vacation I’ll get right to work on developing a palette of earthy watercolors from local sources of minerals and plants.

Forest Folk

It’s been a while since I’d made any Forest Folk, but wanted to have a few new things to use for show and tell at a workshop I did at the Ozark Folkways for children the other day.

Nature art recap: The two latest Forest Folk are also on display and for sale at the Kingston Square Arts shop.
The two latest Forest Folk are also on display and for sale at the Kingston Square Arts shop.

Chapter 27 in 2nd Hit (Book 2 of my Renegade Agents of A.R.S.A. rural fantasy series)

While it’s not nature art in the same sense of the word as a physical work of art, writing is also art and my writing involves a lot of nature-influenced scenes and scenarios.

Plans for July

So next month I’ll be in Doha, Qatar. Look for a change of scenery in my photos posted to Instagram and here on the blog! When I return home I’ll be working on a line of earth and plant pigment watercolor paints. Multi-layered nature art! Also on the list are more of my art mushrooms, just in case I do get accepted to any of the shows I’ve applied to in fall. I’ll definitely need more of them if that happens and I don’t want to wait until the last minute to get started.

 

Making Twig Art: Gumball Folk Bride and Groom

My granddaughter stayed the night with us last night and today I thought we could make some twig art together. She wanted us to make a bride and groom Forest Folk pair, so we went outside to gather some botanicals.

We picked up some gumballs from the sweet gum tree out front, along with a few acorn caps, and some sticks. Then we found a nice soft and fluffy feather that would work great for hair or hat. I had some dried wildflowers on hand and sumac berries, too.

The only other things necessary to make twig art with these botanicals were a glue gun, a pair of wire-cutter pliers, and tweezers. Tweezers are wonderful inventions that keep fingertips from getting burned in hot glue. I’m ashamed to admit it took several burns before I figured this out.

Gumballs, acorn caps, dried flowers, and a soft feather. Twig art supplies all spread out.
Gumballs, acorn caps, dried flowers, and a soft feather. Twig art supplies all spread out.

Making Twig Art

We made the very first Gumball Folk! All Gumball Folk are also Forest Folk.

Chloe’s not old enough yet to use the glue gun without burning her fingers, so I did all the putting to gether. She helped gather the gumballs and held some of the things while I added the glue.

The first thing I usually do is work on the head. If I’m going to add hair, I do that first.  We added some tiny glass eyes to these, too. Then I’ll cut a medium diameter twig for the body.

How the head is positioned on the twig depends on what the Folk is doing. Reading Folk usually have their faces tilted downward toward a book in hand. The Groom needed to be slightly looking down toward the Bride, who needed to look slightly upward toward the Groom.

Adding Details

Once the head is attached to the body, I’ll add the legs. I usually use a slab of hickory bark to mount the Folk on if they’re standing. This is a lot more stable than a twig figure standing alone.

Before I add arms, especially on the female figures, I’ll add the clothing around the hips and upper legs. That’s so much easier than trying to do it around fragile arms in the way.

This Gumball Folk Bride is wearing a grass and dried wildflower skirt accented with the red sumac (NOT poison sumac) berries.

The Gumball Folk Groom’s shoes are made from a wildflower seed cone cut in half. The seeds are gone from the plant and it left behind an interesting form, so I gathered them thinking I’d find a way to use them sooner or later. Worked great!

Which Botanicals to Use?

Sometimes I do use botanicals that could be harmful if eaten. But for a project with children, it’s best to use things that can’t cause trouble. None of my artwork is intended to be consumed, so I’m not really picky about what I use except I generally don’t use things I know to be dangerous.

But if it’s beautiful, natural, and not going to cause the plant population to decline if I use it, it’s fair game no matter what it is. Sometimes I’ll not harvest berries from plants that are in short supply here, so the seeds inside will have more opportunity to repopulate new plants.

The sumac berries I used on the Bride’s shoes and skirt are a good example. This is not poison sumac, but an edible berry from a shrub called sumac.

Bride and Groom Gumball Folk.
Bride and Groom Gumball Folk. Check out their groovy little shoes.

Chloe took these prototypes home with her, so I’ll have to make some more soon so I can take some better photos.

These would make interesting nature art cake toppers for someone having an interesting wedding 😉 When the next ones are made and I get the photos, I’ll load it to Etsy so you can get a better look at them.

Twig Art Workshop

If you’d like to create some Forest Folk of your own and want some guidance, make plans to attend my workshop on Dec. 16 at the Ozark Folkways center in Winslow, AR. It’s just in time to make some for Christmas gifts!