Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Backyard Love and Native VI

Right now I'm sitting on the porch of my art studio in my backyard. I'm in the cool breeze of the morning on a surprisingly not-humid day in Florida in August.  I hear cicadas and the sound of the leaves rustling against one another in the subtle wind.  Every now and then I hear a quick scuttle and then catch a glimpse of a tiny young lizard, quickly hopping or running, but scurrying so fast you can't possibly see the movement of his legs.

The long grass blades arch and bend to caress against one another.  Young bamboo shoots reach up sporadically and slightly branch out their long and graceful leaves.  Shadows of the rustling foliage dance on the ground.

Half of this euphoric experience is because of our decision not to interfere with the nature of our yard.  Really, it's only our yard legally, but much like the Native Americans and many other indigenous people, we don't believe in ownership of the land and the plants and animals that inhabit it.  But, we'll take the legal ownership if it means we can protect the plants.  I know how this may sound, if you're not used to this perspective.  But after just a few years here, this mini ecosystem has begun to flourish.  Some may consider it "unkempt" but we consider it natural and beautiful.  We have a neighbor a couple blocks away who raises bees.  He says he can watch them head straight for our yard, and is glad they have such a nourishing place to go to.  Butterflies, lizards, and birds, too, are drawn to the habitat we have let grow that houses so much more life than a trimmed and mowed lawn, which has roughly the biodiversity of a desert.

I heard a true story of an old man who lived most of his life on a few acres of young, beautiful forest.  He had new neighbors who moved in and worked many hours on the weekends to mow and landscape their yard.  Then when visiting their new neighbor they were taken aback by the beauty of his property and complimented him on it.  "Wow, you have such a gorgeous yard, how do you do it?"  they asked.  He said, "Don't mow for fifty years and it will become a forest."

We're pretty sure the plants know how to grow on their own, so we just let them.

So while many of our neighbors may assume we're just lazy, given some more years, our yard will become more and more appealing even to them.

Our little patch of backyard.

Aaaaaand that brings me to my latest drawing, "Native VI."  I drew from the grass in our yard for the shadows on her back.  The reference photos were even taken in our backyard.  So really, I guess this piece is also about my own personal experience letting the natural world grow and interact with me.  I even modeled for this one myself, as well as my previous drawing, "Growth II."

"Native VI" graphite, 22"x28", by Heather Clements, 2014.
"Native VI" (detail) graphite, 22"x28", by Heather Clements, 2014.
"Native VI" (detail) graphite, 22"x28", by Heather Clements, 2014.

Here are two different versions of this drawing blended with the reference photo.

Inspiration Source #26:  Swoon.   Swoon is a street artist who specializes in life-size wheat paste prints and paper cutouts of human figures.  She is among my favorite street artists and you should check out some of her beautiful work here, and follow her on Instagram!

So many thank you's for taking a gander at my blog.


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