On Becoming a Naturalist

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The Master has mastered Nature, not in the sense of conquering it, but of becoming it. In surrendering to the Tao, in giving up all concepts, judgements, and desires, her mind has grown naturally compassionate” -Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching

I have found a new balance and blend, or maybe more like a bridge between my most beloved worlds of nature + art. I’ve learned new methods of thinking and ways of how I can contribute positively to society. I’m embracing not knowing it all, but instead staying curious about everything. I’m developing shapes, forms – bigger ideas- before bogging the conceptualizations with details. It’s all happening…

When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe. – John Muir

In late June, I went through a week long immersion course at Sagehen Creek Research Station (just north of Lake Tahoe) to become a California Naturalist. To answer your questions of why, what, and wait what?, please read below. 🙂

Why?

Well, the reasons varied, but I initially went due to my sense of adventure and wonder. I wanted to learn more and gain skills to become an educator; I wanted to get away, to rejuvenate and reflect on how beautiful life is. I also wanted to connect deeper to this place I call home. I ended up meeting some of the most genuine, interesting, experienced, curious, kind, and amazing group of people – including my cohort of 15 + the teachers and leaders of the course. They all collectively made this experience a worth while professional (and personal) development week off.

What is a naturalist?

During that week, we were trained on how to share knowledge and interpret science on an empathetic level in order to inspire the blooming of more environmental stewards. We were given tools to essentially pull apart and deconstruct ecosystems, in order to build them back up again with our words and stories for better understanding. I like to think of it as a training on connecting people to place.

Naturalists also observe nature by drawing or photographing and journaling about their observations. I doubt my nature journals will lead to breakthrough discoveries and they might not be published like the great John Muir, but it’s a useful tool to really pay attention to a place.

Yes, there really are classes for this. Check out the UC website if you’re interested and want to learn more: calnat.ucanr.edu/

What did you do?

I stayed at a the research station for 7 days, 6 nights. This lively, serene, secluded place is about a 20 minute drive north of Truckee, CA and is owned by UC Berkeley. I had class most days from 9AM-9PM with breaks and deliciously catered meals in between. It was like adult summer camp. 🙂

We had a terrific professor of hydrology lead us through the entire course with brilliant guest speakers occasionally dropping by in our outdoor classroom. Some classes occurred while on nature walks, including geology, botany, and the search for beaver dams along the creek. We visited other places two of the days, including UC Davis’ research center (TERC) at Sierra Nevada College and learned about the natural history of Lake Tahoe. We also learned a great deal about the research that’s going on around the lake and around Sagehen’s experimental forest.

I recommend picking up the California Naturalist Handbook. It provides great overviews on geography and biology of CA, and highlights some challenges we are facing now with global warming.

We were also introduced to a cool app called iNaturalist. It’s a community for nature observations and has some great information on it. I also recommend checking this out if you take a lot of pictures of nature and are sometimes curious about what something’s name. I still have some observations to post for Sagehen Creek station, but my username is “renae” if you want to find me on it.

What now?

It was sad seeing the week end. It’s truly incredible how quickly I connected with a group of strangers from different walks of life. I’m very grateful I met everyone I did and learned all of the information that I could grasp in such a short amount of time. I was very inspired by my classmates’ passion for the environment. On the last day, we all presented what we will be doing for capstone projects upon the completion of the course. All 14 projects I heard about were quite impressive and I know these individuals will make positive differences in their communities. I hope to carry my own project out within the next few months and to begin volunteering with some local parks.

Although I slightly dreaded driving back to San Jose and returning to work, this week gave me the creative and inspiring boost I needed. Thanks to all of my fellow naturalists and our fearless leader for making these memories!

Stay curious 🙂

 

 

LandEscapes 5 – more rockscape

New Artwork

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I’m almost done with this next painting in my series. It’s based off a striking rock I met while hiking in Utah about 5 years ago. If you look closely the rock that looks like a face also is comprised of figures. There are some final touches that still need to be done, but I thought I’d share my newest creation.

Next up, I’m moving on from my red rock pallet and will transition into some more aquatic and forested landscapes. Stay tuned!

LandEscapes updates and t-shirt graphics

New Artwork, Uncategorized

There has been a delay in this series, but it will continue soon, hopefully next week if time allows. I’ve been busy working on a few portrait drawings for a good friend, some sweet graphics for work and a few designs for a friend’s wedding this weekend (I’ll be updating my portfolio in the next few days, so stay tuned).

I finished this 4th painting over a month ago, by adding more lines and texture to the ground… about time I show it off 🙂

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I have a few sketches worked out for the next two paintings; they’ll be smaller then these last two featuring the red rocks of Utah, but hopefully just as intriguing.

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In March I designed a t-shirt for the non-profit organization I work for; here’s the sketch I based it off of. The leaf at the top is part of the logo and is shown asymmetrically in the final design to give those astute viewers something to find.

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Breathe easy 🙂

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The sound of crashing waves

New Artwork, Uncategorized

The sound of crashing

waves engulfs my entire

being; beams of light.

landEscapes2_web

Just finished developing the second painting to my new series: LandEscapes.

This was inspired after a magical evening spent just south of Big Sur, CA. We were just sitting there, totally engulfed by the waves crashing before our very eyes. There was no need to worry about anything, all of it was before us, washing out with the ebb of the ocean’s breaths. The sunlight was a spectacular site, creating a dramatic skyline from a storm that was creeping into the evening. It was hard to look away from the glowing halos the crashing waves carried as they threw themselves against the sea rocks.

You rock rocks. Thanks for the Escape.

landEscapes2_2_web

 

Resolution in action

New Artwork

A few resolutions came to my mind on New Year’s Eve, including: get stronger (physically); show others love more often (compassion & kindness); be grateful and act. (The gratitude I have for those I’ve surrounded myself with is too much for words; I can only say thank you for your love and patience.)

I can’t just continue to think about “what if”s and make up excuses, I need to act. This need for action is mostly regarding my lack of creating new artwork and finding that escape I’ve always enjoyed. Today I will act and show some recent action of my creative strides.

Here is the beginning of a series of artwork that’s been on my mind since 2011. It involves landscapes, surrealism, traveling and the importance of light and color against darkness. My goal is to create enough pieces to have a show – one day, when I’m ready (if not by this year, then 2017 for sure). Anywhere, too, a cafe or online or other means, time will tell. It’s coming along nicely, but I have many more to come. Stay tuned.

landEscape1

LandEscape1 – acrylic and ink on 6′ X 6′ canvas

Words to act on – my InspiRenaetion:

“To Escape the past, one must let go;

To Escape the present, one must look around her and find Love;

To Escape the future, one must not worry, but accept what is to come.”  -Me (1/8/16)