Birding and Leaf Painting

I have always collected leaves. Every year as the leaves turn I find myself picking up my favorites. In past years I did this without much plan; I would pick them up and shove them between book pages (books I clearly didn’t care about because leaf pressing in books wicks all the moisture from the leaf into the book, warping the pages). While this was fairly successful in pressing the leaves, they languished. I didn’t have a plan and the plans I thought I had wouldn’t work with the paper like dried leaf I ended up with.

This time I got a real plant press and prepared a set up to submerge the leaves in glycerin. I wanted to have two options, leaves dried like paper and leaves that were preserved maintaining their flexible state.


A lettuce leave after soaking in glycerin. It looks like kelp!

The glycerin leaves are still in my processing space. Sometimes I have to sit and look at something day after day before the idea fully forms and I know what I will do with it. The dried leaves I immediately started painting birds on them.

Two separate things brought this idea together. I have always liked painting on none white surfaces. When I went hiking in 2010 and picked up birch bark off the trail, it looked so much like paper, I decided to paint on it. I left these paintings on the trail knowing they were watercolor and would wash off if no one picked them up (I found out the hut kids found them and enjoyed them). Then in the summer of 2016 I got a button maker and realized you could easily put leaves in the press. The jump to painting on the leaf first was a short distance away.

I decided on birds because I look at birds all the time. I have feeders all around my yard. My mother and her sister, Karen & Teresa are birders and they constantly teach us what birds we are looking at. Also, many family vacations now have large swaths of time devoted to birding. We all enjoy it including my son. It’s very similar to collecting Pokemon but, real animals and instead of taking them home we make a list of what we saw and/or heard.

I took the close up photos with my phone using a scope and binoculars for zoom, technology can be ridiculous.

I wanted to paint birds that came from the same locations as the leaves. Representing native species on both fronts, flora and fauna. However, even though the leaves I have collected are living locally, they are native to other countries. The Ginkgo specifically which, is a favorite to paint on. However, the birch and sweet gum trees are fine, as well as the blackberry, strawberry, saltbush, holly cherry, and other natives I have purposefully replanted in our yard. This follows my overall goals of native flora for the paintings and a native garden for the yard.

The leaves all react differently to being pressed and dried, sorted and held until I paint on them, and after they have been enclosed in a button. If the leaf isn’t fully dried it tends to mold within the button. These possibilities cause me to charge not much more than a fancy cup of coffee which, is also a short lived life enjoyment. However, there is the possibility the properly pressed leaves will survive for quite sometime. This is the moment where we say, ‘only time will tell’.

Photos of the buttons finished or pre-pressed. The penny is for size. These end up being 1 inch buttons.

I hope that this project will bring happiness to anyone who buys a button or other final finishing choices I am exploring (pressed in glass making it wall art or made into a pendant). I also hope it brings awareness to the many amazing species of birds that continue to thrive or struggle to live on this planet. I believe our coexistence holds more importance than we are fully aware of.

Good Intentions Fall Through

Well as hopeful as I was to get my blog set up with scheduled posts it just didn’t happen. My pregnant brain did not bring it together for me to make new art that I wanted to post for you. Also the past week has been a lot of scrambling to be prepared for a new baby. But!, I have the finished piece of Hippo and Monkey Dancing. It was fun to use sparkle paper and sequin paper for their dresses. They didn’t leave much room for adding color to them but, I worked it in.


And now I must take a leave to bring a new member of the family home. I will do my best to get back on the blog regularly. However, remember I did not get a chance to set up posts in advance so it may be some time.

I will miss you all stopping by and miss checking out what you are working on! Go be creative!


Komodo Dragon

This weekend I am participating in SOS, Somerville Open Studios.
I am #80 on the map at 45 Laurel Street #1.
We are open from Noon to 6pm both Saturday and Sunday.

I have some new work that I will have on display, mounted creature heads. Check out the first one:

And of course there will be new specimens, check out these three:

And one more of the Dragon:

I love Komodo Dragons

Hope to see you this weekend!

MoCCA Fest!

Another week of just one post. Followers, thank you for your patience! Next month I will hopefully be able to get back to two postings a week.

For those of you in NYC this weekend be sure to stop by MoCCA Fest. I will be at table B8 up front to the left when you come in the doors. At my table with me will be Shanon Weltman, Ellen T. Crenshaw and Ray Jones.

Here is a preview of new work I will have available:

I will also have my specimens and Animals in Alphabet. It should be a great weekend!

Sketchbook Snippet

Today isn’t coming together quite how I wanted. So, rather than rush finishing a sketch for you I have chosen a snippet from my sketchbook to share.

On the left is a little girl surrounded by legs so tall you can’t even see their torsos(hard to see this is a very rough sketch). She is a character I have been thinking about for sometime. I don’t know her story yet, but I know her now and some of the folks around her. Next to her is Sparrow, “who shot Cock Robin with her bow and arrow.” I want to take this to a finished illustration. I have actually sketched Sparrow a couple of times, this is my current favorite. I want to have the sketch’s looseness in the my finished piece because it seems to fit the rawness of the story. This is a  Sparrow, it is a variety from Costa Rica, the Rufous-collared Sparrow.