Art is a way for each of us to share our passions, feelings, visions, and view of the world in our own unique way. People and their stories, told in their faces, hands, traditions, myths, mannerisms, clothes, and actions, have always fascinated me. Animals and the natural world also have stories - these stories are often a little quieter, but no less important than those we humans tell. In some way I'd like my work to give a voice to all of these tales - human and animal - because to me they are all fascinating and deserving of our attention. I also believe that in listening to and respecting the stories of others we often learn more about ourselves.
Fascination with our human relationship to the natural world has been with me since I was a young girl living on a farm in rural Illinois. Growing up there as an avid observer of birds, and nature in general, was sobering at times, but also filled with wonder and discovery. This was the time shortly after the banning of DDT and I remember being excited about the dawn chorus growing louder every year, the comeback of the warblers when I was a teen, and seeing Bald Eagles gain a foothold where just a decade or two before they were close to extinction.
Some of my work today explores this theme of humans and nature, intertwined. My artistic career also had its humble beginnings with this relationship to nature - I created my own illustrated ecology and conservation books as a young child. My first self-published book met with rave reviews in my third grade class - its subject was how we humans could impact the earth less and leave a lighter footprint. Of course that was the 70s and my audience was a bunch of 8 year-olds so I had a fairly good chance of success!
At the encouragement of a family friend who noted my artistic leanings, after high school I attended The American Academy of Art in Chicago, at that time one of the few schools in the USA still teaching the classical approach to art that I felt drawn to. During my years there I studied still life, portraiture, and the human figure. In my current work, I seek to integrate this earlier, classical study with a more contemporary, somewhat looser, and "impatient" style. After art school, I had a fear of starving so I went back to University and obtained a Bachelor's degree (and later pursued MS coursework) in Geology with an oceanography emphasis, and additional studies in Archaeology.
One event in particular from this time forever changed the way I viewed myself and the world - Andrews University in Michigan, USA, invited me to Amman, Jordan to participate in an archaeological dig as its artist. I spent the summer in one of the "poorest" places in the world, but I came away from that experience with a wholesale shift in perspective that is still with me today. One of the many things I learned is just how bound humans are to our environment, and just how much a small change in this balance can positively or negatively impact the system as a whole.
Through this time I still painted, focusing in on landscapes and wildlife. I finally achieved one of my goals of being a "pro" painter after studying under Matt Smith, Ralph Oberg, Dan Young, and Scott Mattlin. In the last few years, I have returned to portraying the human figure and portraits in addition to my paintings of animals and nature - all of them interesting subject matter and valuable storytelling at the same time. I also continue my volunteer work with wildlife conservation groups, and occasionally give presentations on conservation-related topics.
My work has been shown in The Bennington Center for the Arts, Salon International, Oil Painters of America National Exhibition, Arts for the Parks, and many other national and regional juried shows. Collectors include residents from across the US, Canada, and Europe. My work is also featured in the book 100 Ways to Paint Your Favorite Subject, by the editors of International Artist magazine.
In my down-time, I enjoy wildlife watching (both birds and mammals), hiking, cycling, sea kayaking, and volunteering for research and conservation organizations.
5% of the profits from my work goes to support The Wild Animal Sanctuary in Keensburg, CO.