Life has changed a lot for me recently and my focus with The Art of Ecology has become more focused and purposeful. By combining creative, hands-on endeavors with environmental science, I can facilitate a sense of stewardship and responsibility for the environment in others. I do this through informal environmental education online, through social media, and in person during programs and presentations. Each of these avenues allows me to utilize my creative side! On social media, I showcase my photography and digital illustrations to tell the story of the natural world. In person, I can teach about artistic and wildcrafting activities in hands-on ways to help each participant develop their own connection to the ecosystems they’re a part of.
For this post, I wanted to share some behind the scenes views of where the ideas start, the projects are created, and where I teach from during my virtual presentations to help everyone get to know who is behind The Art of Ecology!
My office has been such a wonderful space for my ideas to flow. All around me are sources of inspiration. Out of the window I can see a little forest, filled with deer and birds. The walls are decorated with my natural art. The shelves are lined with art, books, and more natural artifacts to inspire me. Having this dedicated space, without feeling as if I am intruding on my family’s day-to-day life (that table used to be the dinner table and it was usually covered with nature or art projects).
Within the past few years, I have delved deeper into the realm of digital illustration as well as wildcrafting as some of my favorite mediums. Now, that table is my space to start herbalism projects, work on my block printing on botanically dyed shirts, and create foraged tea blends. The desk is where I sit to do my illustrations and work on processing photos (especially now that I can take bird and deer pictures right from that window!). Join me for any one of my virtual presentations to see this space from a different point of view!
In my free time, or when making gifts for others (rather than my professionally produced pieces and commissions), I love mediums such as pyrography (making nature-themed charcuterie boards is so much fun! My husband, and arborist brings home tree cookies that he salvaged from work and that tell as story, I burn them, and he helps me finish them) , resin pouring for natural artifact preservation (I love making D&D polyhedral dice with pinecones, moss, or other sustainably sources finds), and creating specially designed herbal salves/balms/rubs that my friends and family can use.
Working with zero-waste materials, or facing the challenge of how to use scraps produced in my art activities is also one of my hobbies. All scraps are re-used and incorporated into other projects when possible, and I love turning old plant matter into something else. If I have extra flowers or greens from a project, I preserve them to create wreaths, bouquets, or press for educational tools. If I can’t permanently preserve them, then I try to botanically dye with them (that drying bunch of eucalyptus are remnants from a wedding bouquet I did and will be used to create a beautiful, deep grey dye for a t-shirt later this winter). Many of these pieces are available to purchase during in-person workshops, or in my online shop.
The bookshelf is filled with resources so that I never stop learning! There are two whole sections of it dedicated to field guides, one local, and the other exotic. I love getting more familiar with my surroundings and appreciating the beauty and biodiversity that can be found all around the world! Resource and reference books tend to be my favorites – as long as they have lots of pictures too! These visual and educational aides assist me in lesson plan creation, as well as provide references for my illustrations (if I don’t use one of my own photos as reference).
Not only do I incorporate information from what I learn in these books into my lessons, but I also love bringing them along for participants to use! Sharing is caring, and it’s also a wonderful way to get people to start making some in-depth observations about the natural world around them during my in-person classes.
Without your support, none of this would be possible! Everyday, the readers of this blog, the followers on social media, those who attend my classes, and those who buy gifts and art from me all motivate me to continue and grow on this path and continue facilitating a connection between people and the natural world. I am ever grateful for it! You can support The Art of Ecology in a variety of ways. Become a Patreon subscriber, shop small on my website, listen and support my podcast, share posts with others, and spread the world! The more people that can connect to and learn about our ecosystems, the greener this planet will become!