A creative life is not for the timid. Living life creatively means taking risks and being willing to fail at something one knows little about. So it was for me on my journey into being an artist.
As a life long gardener I was immediately drawn to a small announcement in the local paper for new school opening, the Minnesota School of Botanical Art at the Bakken Museum. On a lark I signed up for a class there about 16 years ago. Little did I know that class would give me the opportunity to take classes with world-renowned botanical artists including Elaine Searle of Norfolk, England; Katie Lee, Connecticut; Alexandar (Sasha) Viazmensky, St Petersburg, Russia; John Pastoriza Pinol, Australia; and Kate Nessler, Arkansas. Nor did I dream that botanical painting would change my life and take me around the world in pursuit of plants to paint and experiences to savor.
It began with painting watercolors of plants growing near my Minneapolis home. Then on a trip to Thailand I spent a day forging into a jungle where a plant that only sees the light of day 3 days a year was blooming. The journey to find that plant began with a 9-hour ride in an overnight ferry. The sleeping arrangements on the ferry consisted of 40 mattresses on the floor two to a mattress. When we arrived on mainland Thailand we boarded an old bus and were driven into Khao Sok National Park. There we got off the bus and into the back of a truck to find a place to sleep for the night. What we found was a cottage on stilts with thousands of flying termites. The owner of the cottage arranged for us to hire another truck driver who took us about two hours further into the jungle. Then yet another set of guides hiked with us to see this plant called Rafflesia. In the midst of the hottest jungle I have ever been in we found this amazing plant that lives inside the root of a vine 362 days a year and then one day appears and almost like magic expands to 36 inches across to last only 3 days. My painting of this plant became my first painting exhibited in a show at the Bakken Museum.
Back in Minneapolis I met Dianne Aigaki who would take my husband & me on a most amazing journey into Tibet. There I painted some of the plants growing on the highest plateau in the world. Our plant guide was the local plant expert. He shared with us heart-wrenching stories of his parents and grandparents being tortured by the Chinese during the invasion of Tibet. He showed us fields that used to be covered with medicinal plants that had been stripped bare by the Chinese for use back in China.
While in Tibet I lived in a 500 year old house and painted outside wearing jackets and gloves even though it was mid summer as were living at 13,000 feet.
We loved Tibet and made a decision to return 2 years later. We joined a small group of other botanical artists who were in pursuit of the illusive Blue Poppy. While there we able to arrange a night in a nomad tent. We slept under a huge black tent among a nomad family of five, one small dog and 24 baby yaks all under an amazingly large tent.
The next day we finally found the illusive Blue Poppy, which grows at about 13,000 feet. The plant is a beautiful blue but on close inspection it is covered-stem, leaves and the flower itself with very sturdy sharp thorns. It is a dangerous plant to get near. With great care and the help of a huge knife I dug up one of the plants and spent countless hours painting it both in watercolors and later on silk.
Back at home I became enamored with paintings done on silk with a special dye made specifically for silk. The colors are amazing, vibrant and enchanting. As a seamstress all my life I love luxurious fabric and silk is one of the most luxurious. For the past four years I have painted mostly on silk with occasional forays back to watercolor. I have had the great opportunity to take classes from two of the best silk painters in the country Karen Sistek in Port Angles, WA and Nancy Cawdrey in Big Fork, MT.
I paint what I love and hopefully that passion shows in the work I create. I invite you to spend some time with my painting and see if one calls to you.