One of the big reasons I live in the country is so my kids can grow up close to nature. We have woods all around, full of interesting critters and plant life, and I love to cultivate curiosity, respect and awareness of the natural world in my kids. Julian at 6 is already an expert in many things in the outside realm and is forever showing me things like these fence post lizards-
He is more skilled than I at catching and handling these little lizards that like to sun themselves on the rocks by our driveway. I hold close my memories of childhood: being outside, exploring for exploring's sake, figuring things out, watching, absorbing. These memories often influence my crafting in a direct way.
When Laura and I were 12 we spent the summer in upstate New York at our friend Pricilla's. We had a marvelous time, as her family had a large working farm and we spent much time outside, in the barns and with the animals. One afternoon we were munching on those shockingly pink strawberry wafer cookies, rather enjoying them until someone snidely said, "I don't know how you can eat those things, that color doesn't even occur in nature!" Somewhat chagrined, we finished off the last of the cookies in silence. Later in our visit we helped Ann, Priscilla's mom, make juice from grapes in a stovetop juice extractor. I don't remember how the complicated steamy contraption worked, but I remember the sweet juice and most of all our delight at seeing the practically fluorescent pink foam rising to the top of the juice! We felt very vindicated and that memory sticks with me when I think about colors for a new project and begin to censor myself if the colors are too much, or not "natural." All colors are around somewhere, and I aspire to mix and match colors as well as the combinations in the natural world. Like the orangey-pink and brown of a crayfish claw, or the brown on brown of a freshly tilled garden with packed dirt paths. Or like this bug Michael snapped earlier this summer- very mod, no?
I know it's cliche to say "I'm working on really 'seeing' things" but I am, and hope to be more aware of the subtleties as well as the large brush strokes of the natural world. For example, how about this four leaf clover? I never really considered or noticed that they aren't solid green- This is one that Michael found. He is one of those freakish people that can find them by the dozens!
As I work on new projects, I try to remember that nature isn't muted, beige, gentle. It's crazy, a visual cacophony and I hope to find some of that energy and life to instill in the stuff I make.
(My projects can't keep up with daily posting for NaBloPoMo, I have a feeling things will get pretty introspective around here if I don't get crackin' finishing some work!)