It's been a pretty warm week here in Calgary and I decided to spend yesterday morning wandering around our garden gathering interesting objects to make marks with. I've made natural tools before in the forest but I was excited to see what my own garden would offer. I made some ink from berries that we harvested last summer (and froze) and I also added a little coffee ink. This is such a satisfying process.
It's been a great year of adventure and art making with my children, husband, and friends. 2016 marked the launch of my website andreamerredew.com, this Blog, photographing my Land Art, making tools from the landscape and so much more. Here are some of my favorite projects from this year.
Mixed media - wood fiber and watercolor on a wood panel
Mounted in a pallet wood frame
Birch bark art journal - salvaged charcoal and berry inks
Birthday collaboration with my son Paul
Tools from the landscape - berry ink, stick pens, and quill pens
Mixed media - reclaimed metal on salvaged plywood and acrylics
Birch bark fringe
Insect art pendants
Land Art - Zen
Land Art - Rainbow
Birch bark bracelets
Mixed media - wood fiber on a canvas panel
Winter tree candle holder with a rainbow crystal
Secret door - scroll sawed tree painted with acrylics
Handmade beads from sticks
As I look back on these projects I can see my love of trees and the natural world sprinkled everywhere. I plan on exploring more of Canada's forests in 2017. From the temperate rainforest in British Columbia to the subalpine forest in Alberta, grasslands in Saskatchewan, boreal forest in Manitoba and deciduous forests in Southern Ontario. I've been dreaming about visiting some of BC's forests since I was a teenager. I'm pretty sure my poster of Cathedral Grove is still hanging in my parent's house. Here's to many blissful moments with trees and feeling inspired by new ideas and projects. Happy 2017 my friends!
What started out as a chance encounter in the woods has turned into a weekly gathering of wild and creative souls to make art in nature. Each week I share a new project with the group. We've made land art, weaved with natural materials, learned to whittle, made paint, stick pens, natural inks and painted birch bark. It's incredibly fun and inspiring to sit in a circle of women and children of all ages and create. This has become our favorite day of the week.
I painted this many years ago after a beautiful week in the mountains. It now hangs in my studio and serves as a reminder to myself. I go to the forest and the mountains as often as I can. It doesn't have to be someplace completely removed from civilization, but I want it to feel natural, wild, beautiful, peaceful and inspiring.
When we got to the mountains today, my eight-year-old son and I decided to visit a place we hadn't been to in a while. Our energy was high as we started walking along the trail and it wasn't long before we wandered off the trail, through the trees, and down steep slopes. As soon as we reached the creek everything slowed down. It was as though that burst of energy on the way down set us free and now we were at ease.
I looked at the patches of white snow beside the bright green moss. I listened to the water trickle over the rocks. I could smell the wet forest around me, which I love so much! I continued to walk around slowly, gently touching the squishy moss, wet leaves, rough bark or crinkly lichen. I realized that this is part of my creative process every time I go into nature. It's how I awaken my senses and immerse myself in a place so that I can begin to create.
I don't set out with a plan to make art and while I'm creating I don't think about whether anyone will like it. Since I've never put that pressure on myself, I feel rejuvenated and inspired by the experience instead of drained or stressed. As I wander around eventually something clicks and I have this incredible urge to create. Maybe it's land art, photography, drawing, poetry or simply gathering materials to use later.
For a long time, I use to whittle and paint with watercolor beside the water. I never thought much about it. It's just what I did. Allowing myself the time and space to play in nature with my children, experiment, wander and get inspired is what drives my creativity and it's how I deepen my connecting to the natural world.
Most people assume that we must be big hikers but in fact, we usually get about 20 minutes or 20 meters down a trail and then stop because we see something that interests us. Before we know it three hours have passed and it's time to head home. I appreciate the views from the top of a mountain but for me, the magic happens when I'm bent over a log covered in lichen wishing I had a sketch pad to draw those beautiful forms.
While most of my time is spent outdoors creating art and jewelry with salvaged wood, there is a part of me that loves reusing old bits of metal in mixed media art and jewelry. The environmentalist in me is happy to give these discarded pieces a new life and the artist in me feels inspired by the beauty of each unique piece that I find.
Over the past few years, I have gathered many interesting pieces of metal from garages and workshops.
I thought these were so unique and beautiful that they should be worn by someone.
Goddess Pendant - Made from an antique swivel link
Goddess Pendant - Made from an antique lock cover
Brass Pendant - Made from an old piece of hardware
This week we set out to make leaf prints with black tempura paint and a handmade brayer (roller). Finding the materials was easy enough but whittling the small poplar branch to fit snugly inside the Y-shaped willow branch, while still being able to roll, took a little time and perseverance. We planned on wrapping a piece of leather around the roller to absorb the paint but decided to leave it bare and roll it as a stamp instead.
We were pretty excited to see it roll across the paper and then it popped out. I squeezed it back in and we tried again. This happened many times. We might need to work on our design a bit :) This led to leaf prints, rock prints, and stick scratches. It was very messy and very fun.
We biked down to Glenmore Reservor this morning with our blackcurrant ink. We gathered feathers from the beach to make quill pens and then searched for something to draw on. Mark whittled some pieces of driftwood and then "painted" them. He discovered that the feathers make a great paintbrush! Pretty soon both boys were dying the feathers with the ink, which resulted in beautiful quill pens. Since I only had one piece of paper, Paul and I decided to draw on rocks. It was so much fun! It's amazing how many colors we got from one ink.