From Wonder Walk to Art Work!

Happy Tuesday!

Now that I’ve been enjoying the creative breath of fresh air that IS Wonder Walks for a little less than 2 months, I decided it was time to start talking about how to transfer your multi-sensory experiences to works of art! Let me start by saying, WRITING in-and-of-itself can be more beautiful than any visual image. I realize that visual artists may take offense at this statement (I myself AM a visual artist), but what I mean to say is that the written word has the ability to paint an open-ended picture, free of visual prompts–left completely up to the interpretation of the reader.  That being said, let’s talk Wonder Walk inspiration!

In order to fully illustrate my thought process, I allowed myself to bring along a camera for a lovely winter Wonder Walk in the snow! Here is a visual documentation of my observations and experiences:

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My favorite moment from the walk is illustrated in the first photo shown. I happened by this gnarled, dry, skeletal bush, creating a wall between the sidewalk and a backyard. This bush was so alive with the movement and sounds of dozens of little birds. It was such a beautiful reminder of the life and pure JOY that can be found even in the coldest winter days! 

This story, along with the above images, will provide inspiration for my artwork–to come over the next couple of posts!

‘Til then…happy explorations!

 

Nature Crochet Art Challenge: DAY TWO!

Today was an absolutely gorgeous, Wyoming day! Today’s weather report:  mid to high 70’s, slightly cloudy, and a 99.9% chance of wind (which I’m still coming to terms with…).

Rather than taking a walk, as I had discussed in yesterday’s post, I decided to bust out my bike for a Tour de Cheyenne! My husband, a Wyoming native, told me about this trail called The Greenway, which is comprised of chunks of paved pedestrian/bike trails that run throughout the city! Here’s a description, taken from Cheyenne’s Official Website:

“The Greenway serves as a safe and accessible recreational corridor; a key component of the non-motorized transportation system; an open-air science, ecology, history, and health classroom for students of all ages; and a vital public space integral in building sustainable, vibrant and healthy neighborhoods and a cohesive community. The man made and natural barriers that traditionally divide a community are the same corridors the Greater Cheyenne Greenway has employed to connect neighborhoods, school districts, and socio-economic divides.”

With camera in tow, I headed off to explore a small section of The Greenway! Since my bike is in desperate need of some TLC…and rust remover (thank you Austin humidity), I kept the ride to 4-5 miles, occasionally stopping to take a few shots of the beauty around me. Here are a few shots from my ride:

In addition to taking in the sites around me, I paid careful attention to the sounds (birds, wind, squeaky bike), feels (wind in my face), and smells (unfortunately my allergies made everything smell like dust!).

After returning from my explorations, I decided to add to the surface of my crocheted canvas! Inspired by the wind, I added windy patterns to my work. Here is the result:

For tomorrow’s explorations, use today’s excursion to inspire your composition. If you sketched some ideas today, work off of those sketches to create a simplified plan for your canvas. Once you have finished your proposed design, select the colors of yarn that you will need for your design. 

‘Til tomorrow…happy explorations!

Nature Animation Challenge: DAY SIX!

Lights, Camera, ACTION! Today’s challenge was to finally shoot the animation, after 5 days of planning and set preparation. All told, I ended up shooting a little over 100 still images for my animation. Here is one sequence that I shot:

For tomorrow’s challenge, it’s time to put everything together to create your animation! Since I use a Mac, I will be putting my images together using iMovie. There are, however, other programs that will work just as well. MS Powerpoint would work–it’ll just take you a little longer, since you’ll have to insert your images individually onto slides. I don’t know about you, but I’m excited to see how it all comes together!

‘Til tomorrow…happy explorations!

Floral X-Rays!

Happy Sunday! :) The clouds continue to blanket Austin (and, from what I hear, there are even some flash flood warnings for tonight–on into the following morning! Yikes!). That being said, today is a most excellent day to explore the works of nature-inspired artists–and maybe make some of my own art as well! While in the midst of  drinking my morning mate, I stumbled upon the GORGEOUS works of photographer Brendan Fitzpatrick! While his artwork is not exclusively environment/nature inspired, his series of Floral X-Rays provide some incredible examples of exploration into the beauty and grace of the forms in nature! Check out a few of his works:

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Although his initial plan was to become a science fiction illustrator, his experimenting with mixed media and collage eventually led him to photography. He explains, “Photography is a vast language. It balances my inner creative spirit with a connection to the physical world. It offers suggestions in the moment and surprises me always with images better than those I sought. I love both it’s stillness and it’s dynamism. This is a medium in which contexts collide with dramatic results. What was invisible can be suddenly made so obvious.”

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His words describe his floral x-rays series so well–as his compositions bring to light the hidden intricacies and beauty contained within a flower.

To view more of Fitzpatrick’s works, check out his website.

His landscape photography is also quite breathtaking!

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‘Til later…happy explorations!

Nature Art Challenge: DAY SIX!

Ever since my neighbor tipped me off to the shiny rocks near the mailroom, I’ve been itching to get over there and check it out! So, for today’s challenge, I decided to pay a visit to the mailroom (though I didn’t actually venture inside to check the mail). My neighbor was absolutely correct! The ground was covered with sparkling rocks (at least whenever the sun decided to make a brief appearance!)

Here is the result of my explorations, dedicated to the keen observations of my neighbor: 

On my way back, I decided to check on my installation from Day Three. Although most of the shells had vacated their mushroom bed, nature seemed to have been kind to my work over the last couple of days. Here’s an updated picture: 

Only one day remaining in this month’s challenge! If you haven’t given environmental art a try over these last 6 days, give it a shot tomorrow! Take a little walk. If something happens to catch your eye, take a few minutes to explore that object further…see what you can create!

‘Til tomorrow…happy explorations!

Nature Art Challenge: DAY FIVE!

Brrrr! Texas is finally starting to feel like Christmas! While I am enjoying the colder weather, the freezing, biting wind made for a tough–and quick challenge today! While walking around, I was astonished at the difference that a few days of good rain can make to the verdant plant life in the area! Everything was SO GREEN! After a few minutes of hunting, I located a shape that held my interest–an acorn top. As was the case with the little shells on Day Three, I immediately became conscious of the existence of hundreds of these acorn tops, scattered every which way. Gathering a handful of these tops, I headed back to the greenery I had passed earlier. There I found a luscious bed of clovers–the perfect location for my acorn tops to find rest.

Here’s the result of today’s relatively brief explorations: 

I can’t believe this month’s challenge is drawing to a close…only two days remaining! Hopefully the wind will be a little more friendly and warm tomorrow…

‘Til later…happy explorations!

Nature Art Challenge: DAY FOUR!

Forecast for Austin—100% chance of rain, followed by a little drizzle and chill. Excellent. Keep it coming!

Armed with the necessities (boots, jacket, umbrella, camera) I headed out into the great unknown (aka the natural landscape in and around my little apartment complex)! I actually found my site for today’s work as I was headed to my car yesterday afternoon: a tree with lovely yellow leaves on a small hillside. Today I decided to play with the power of one bold line–drawing attention to both the lovely leaves and the tree from which they came. I ended up running the line all the way from the tree to the sidewalk. In this way, I planned to attract interest from anyone who happened to walk by. I’m excited to observe how this piece might change over the next 24 hours!

Here’s the result of my environmental art explorations for the day:

 

Just to put this in perspective for anyone who is a little uncertain about whether or not to try something like this–the above installation took me about 10-15 minutes to construct and photograph. Obviously my works for the purpose of these challenges are meant to be quick explorational acts. I’ve found that working with nature to construct works of art is incredibly liberating! I feel as though I am a child once more– engaging with everything I find; experiencing a sense of wonder at the incredible world around us…AND getting my hands dirty (which the rainy weather has graciously helped with!). If you haven’t taken the plunge yet, give it a try–go play in the mud, make a cool design with colorful leaves or rocks, or build something out of sticks. You might just surprise yourself at what you take away or notice in the process…

‘Til tomorrow, happy explorations!

DAY TWO: Nature Art Challenge!

Beautiful, glorious rain–today marked almost an entire day of rejuvenation, as the incredibly thirst Austin land finally got the first REAL drink it has had in months!

To celebrate, I decided to use the resulting mud as a source for today’s challenge! I wanted to explore the connection between water and life.

To create my work for the day, I found a nice little puddle, and through drawing lines in the mud, transformed the puddle into the trunk of a tree. It was an interesting process–trying to coax the water out of the puddle and into my tree!

Here is my resulting work:

As a side note, I also enjoyed a lovely little walk in the rain…and took several pictures in the process. As I was nearing the end of my walk, I noticed a strange foam coming out of bark of a very large tree. Do any of you environmentalists out there know the cause for these bubbles?:

Here is one possible explanation, based on my initial attempts to research the problem: Spittlebugs. These little guys secrete a frothy substance to protect themselves from getting washed away by forceful streams of water or being eaten by other predators. This foamy nest is made of “watery waste; air, which is blown through abdominal openings to make bubbles; and a glandular secretion.” When rain begins to wash away their nest, they produce more bubbles to restore it. Although Spittlebugs feed from plants, they are relatively harmless–occasionally stunting the growth of the plant or causing some deformation.

Sounds like my observations from my walk might be Spittlebug related…However, if anyone else knows what’s up, I’m all ears!

‘Til tomorrow..Happy Explorations! :)

 

Nature Photography Challenge: DAY SEVEN!

Well, all good things must come to an end. For the subject of this, my final nature challenge of the month, I decided to select this mysterious ball-shaped moss that plagues the branches of Texas trees. Literally every time I see these weird balls, I tell myself I should find out what they are… yet somehow over the last 4 years I have never actually figured out what they are or whether or not they are killing the trees with their smothering tendencies. So, for today’s challenge, I not only studied these moss balls through the lens of my camera, but also did a little bit of research to satisfy my curiosity! Here are my shots from the day, as well as some little tidbits of information I managed to dig up!:

Turns out I was pretty close with my “Moss Ball” title for this plant. Tillandsia recurvata, also known as Ball Moss, is a flowering plant that grows on larger host plants in areas with more humidity and low light (aka on the branches of Southern shade trees!).

They are not a TRUE MOSS or a parasite like mistletoe, but an EPIPHYTE (gets nutrition from the air) like Spanish Moss. So, it obtains only physical support, and not nutrition from its host. The only negative effect that this Ball Moss might have on its host trees would be that it may hinder tree growth by competing for nutrients and sunlight.

Ball Moss photosynthesizes its own food, getting water from the air and nitrogen from bacteria. It can range in size anywhere from the size of a golf ball to that of a soccerball. Here are a few close-up shots I took while studying a Ball Moss covered branch that had fallen on the ground:

Ball Moss is spread by seeds sprouting from bird droppings on stems and shrubs of trees (weird!), or from windblown seeds. It is sensitive to freezing–especially when it is a wet freeze.

Last cool fact: Ball Moss is from the Bromeliad family, so it’s related to a pineapple!

If you’re still thirsty for more Ball Moss knowledge, check out this website!

What a great way to wrap up the Nature Photography Challenge! And what a truly AMAZING and much-needed little plant that I can now include in my list of acquaintances! :)

Oh–one last note… Here’s what the sky looked like today:

So, it goes without saying that shadow-filled compositions are not happening today! Looks like that little assignment will have to wait for another challenge!

I hope you all enjoyed this challenge as much as I did. ‘Til next month, I will continue my posting of cool lesson ideas, inspirational environmental artists, and more!

Happy Monday, and may you have many artful explorations in nature this week!

Nature Photography Challenge: DAY SIX!

Ahh the best laid plans…

Turns out I should have consulted the local weather report prior to setting my challenge for today! Turns out, the forecast for today was cloudy, with a 99.9% chance of diffused light…leaving a .1% chance of the sun popping out from behind the clouds to cast a few shadows. So, not being one to let a cloudy day get in my way, I decided to take a little Sunday stroll with my camera…just to see what I could find. Turns out that sun DID pop out twice during my walk…for about 2-5 seconds..leaving no time for any sort of compositional design. I had to shoot any and all shadows I could find.

This, my friends, is no way to enjoy a day of photographic explorations. So, while trying to capture fleeting moments of sunshine and shadows, I focused most of my attention to enjoying my beautiful walk and discovering little gems of nature along the way. Below are a few of my favorite shots from the walk–beginning with one of the only real shadows that I was able to capture!:

This is what the sun was doing for 99.9% of my walk…hiding:

I must say, even though I was initially frustrated by the lack of sunshine-induced shadows, I enjoyed the walk..and was able to discover some pretty awesome sights along the way! In addition, my husband decided to join me for the walk–and captured some pretty great shots of his own:

For tomorrow’s challenge (the LAST challenge for this month!), weather permitting, I will once again be on the look-out for shadows! In addition, I propose an in-depth observation of one subject in nature that is of particular interest to you–be that a tree, flower, animal, rock, etc… Try to take pictures of your subject from a variety of angles. Study the texture, patterns, colors, and shapes of your subject. Maybe if I’m lucky, my subject will also be casting some shadows!

‘Till tomorrow…Happy shooting! :)