Friday, November 2, 2018

Rewilding: 12 Years of Connecting with Nature Part1

What I Learned from the Trees

I grew up on the edge of the woods and I am always drawn to the trees around me.
The past 12 years I have lived in Central Virginia on a 3 acre plot of land that borders the Blackwater Creek Natural Area. I have enjoyed working/wandering my own little plot but spent many hours walking the trails along the creek and biking on the bike path that crosses the James River.

Trees in the Yard

Almost all of the artwork I have created since coming to Lynchburg is a direct reflection of my engagement with this place. A huge magnolia tree graces my backyard. I frequently took branches from that tree for my students at Lynchburg College to draw during class. It didn't take me long to join in the fun and start my own series of magnolia drawings.

 Magnolia Branch One
mixed media on paper

Monday, September 17, 2018

Close Encounter of the Avian Kind

I opened my front door this morning to be greeted by a hummingbird flying straight at me, in a friendly way. I assumed it would fly off immediately but no, it kept coming back to the porch four or five times.

public domain

What is it about interacting with an animal that is so captivating? An even better experience is when it is aware of your presence and seems to acknowledge it in some way. Don't you just wish you could have a real conversation with them. 

Photo: Kristin Harris

I was saddened by the fact that I had recently pulled up scores of zinnias that had attracted the hummingbirds and many other birds and insects, especially the yellow finches. Maybe the hummingbird this morning was registering a protest or asking where they went?

Hummingbirds can be belligerent  little bullies. I was quite surprised to learn this recently. I didn't see this behavior with the zinnias. Perhaps I would have seen it if I had a hummingbird feeder. I makes sense that they protect their sources of food and mating territory. They don't look like toughies!

What kind of close encounter did you have today?

Related Post:

Have You Thanked a Tree Today

Animating Nature & Science

I see a world where the transformative power of art and the creative problem solving of science blossom together. This is possible when we encourage our children to explore science with art and allow them time to imagine and create. Anim8Nature is dedicated to promoting environmental stewardship by exploring science with art and encouraging careful observation of the natural world.

Learn more about on this blog and our website. I have assembled a team of experts to create media, lesson plans and workshops to help students and families explore science with art. We want to spark curiosity and get kids outside as environmental stewards. Join us.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

A Moment with a Praying Mantis

Creating content for children appeals to me primarily because children have a sense of wonder that many lose as adults. Children's imagination engine is firing on all cylinders. It doesn't hurt that my mental age is 5 years old. There is a natural affinity.

Many of our formative experiences as children frame our lives.  So as a creator, it's fun to imagine producing content that makes that kind of impression. It's even more fun to have those experiences that engage the awe and wonder of childhood.

Praying Mantis        Public Domain

Sunday, August 12, 2018

4 Ways to Say Goodbye

I am saying goodbye to Central Virginia after living here for over 12 years. My home in Lynchburg is on 3 acres (much of it trees) that borders a large rails-to-trails park system along the Black Water Creek. I have probably spend over 1500 hours walking on the trails and riding on the bike path over the years. Many more hours were spent puttering around my vegetable garden, a water garden and a flower garden. 

My California Giant Zinnias

I am saying goodbye because I am moving to Brooklyn into what I can only assume will be a small apartment.  This move is for the happiest of reasons and we are thrilled to be making this transition. That said, I will be leaving some wonderful outdoor spaces that have fed my soul and informed much of my artwork and animation for the last 12 years.

1. Savor Every Moment Together

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

There's a Spider Running Up My Leg!

Observing Nature...Up Close and Personal

I am very fond of watching the natural world around me. As a general rule, this involves trying to find "them". I do not always welcome what happened Saturday morning. Walking to my car, I ran face-first into a spider web. Not one of my favorite activities but it does happen. I have managed to convince myself that spiders are very clever and jump off onto something other than me when I crash into a web.

Holding that thought I went on my way. However, as I was riding in the car (as a passenger) I saw a spider running up my leg. By instinct I brushed it off, but it was still in the car. When we arrived at our location I saw it again and was able to brush it outside. I suspect to our mutual relief. I did notice it had an unusual pattern but was off on my errand and didn't look carefully. Of course when I got back to the car, it was long gone. In a quirk of fate, that afternoon as I was working in the yard, I saw another spider exactly like the one in the car. Eureka, it did have a very unique pattern, one I knew would make it easy to identify. A search for a spider with a yellow triangle on it's abdomen brought instant results. 

Photo Credit: James Pryor
Arrowhead spider, or Verrucosa arenata is species of orb-weaver spider (family Araneidae). It is widely distributed in the Western Hemisphere.  Arrowhead spiders create a new web every day, removing the old one after sunrise. A word to the wise as I traverse that path to my car in the future. Isn't it beautiful!

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Free Resources for Teachers and Parents: NAAEE

I don't remember how I found the North American Association for Environmental Education website.  However, I realized immediately that it was a fabulous resource. 
Image from the NAAEE website
NAAEE has members in more than 30 countries with more than 16,000 members. Members are professionals with a focus on environmental education across business, government, higher education, formal (K–12) education, non-formal education, early childhood education, science education and STEM, and other sectors of society.

I am pleased that Anim8Nature's workshops and animated documentaries are now listed in NAAEE's collection of resources. We want as many environmental educators, classroom teachers and parents to take advantage of our animated documentaries as possible. They are accessible in any language.

We are working on making our workshop resource available via the web as well. Currently we are based in the Mid-Atlantic of the USA. 

Friday, July 6, 2018

Kids Observe and Anim8Nature

Anim8Nature Workshop at Claytor Nature Study Center

Milkweed at Claytor
Last week I had the great pleasure of working with students during a summer camp session at Claytor Nature Center of the University of Lynchburg, located in Bedford, Virginia. It was a fabulous opportunity to combine direct experience in nature with an exploration of natural phenomena using art and animation.

Getting Acquainted

I met with the students in a classroom at Claytor to introduce myself and give them an overview of our process. I talk a little bit about my work and learn their names, ages and where they go to school or if they are home schooled. 

We started with an introduction to the concept of exploring nature with art. I showed them this animation I had recently completed. Kids love cicadas and were instantly engaged with the idea of animation as a way of looking at natural phenomena.

Anim8Nature Life Cycle: 17-Year Cicada

Rewilding: 12 Years of Connecting with Nature Part1

What I Learned from the Trees I grew up on the edge of the woods and I am always drawn to the trees around me. The past 12 years ...