Backstory: In 2002, I somehow musted up all my courage, my bottles of Xanax and Paxil, and flew to Poland for 2 weeks of touring, hiking, canoeing, mountain climbing, and exploring the National Parks along the eastern border. I still can't believe I had the backbone to do that. I am NOT a good traveler. I get panic attacks and severe bouts of anxiety that are almost unbearable. It was the trip of a lifetime and I had this freakishly awesome feeling of connecting with all of my Polish ancestors and I even saw a redhead!!! (everyone always asks if I'm Irish and I'm not... my mother's side always told me that redheads are common in the section of Poland where we were from and I never really believed her until I saw that redheaded guy in Poland... I almost asked if I could take his photo LOL) .
Anyway.... one day of the trip we stopped at a tiny village in the Narew National Park, along the swamps. Seeing that we had a few hours before dusk, I went out to the back of the inn, owned by the village mayor, and began sketching some trees. The mayor saw me and when I came back inside, asked to see my sketchbook.* In turn, he showed me the most amazing book from his personal bookshelf: Portrait of a Living Marsh, a collection of artwork by 30+ artists who visited northeastern Poland in an effort to record the wildlife, land and environment on paper. The artists had spent some time in the mayor's village and he was very excited to go through the book with me and tell stories about their time at his inn, what they were drawing and painting, etc. When I got home from Poland, I knew I HAD to get that book... and I did... although it took some digging to find a copy in America!
The Artists for Nature Foundation is a group of artists that apparently travel the world and create artwork themed on environmentally sensitive areas, in an effort to bring conservation awareness. How cool is that!?
Anyway, while perusing the Artists for Nature website (and drooling a bit), I came across a list of participating artists and boy, are they phenomenal. Here's the link. Check them out if you want to be blown away. My faves: The first on the list, Carrie Akroyd, is a printmaker and her linocuts are incredible!!!! I love the movement in Barry van Dusen's and James McCallum's work. Greg Poole's work is almost abstract, but his relief prints are to die for. OMG. Andrea Rich's woodcuts are almost opposite in their fine detail. I've mentioned Colin See Paynton before; his engravings are absolutely lovely. Sherrie York's linocuts are equally lovely; I also love her blog. :)
Seeing their work inspires me to put some of my memories of Poland on paper (or at least onto woodblock, which would then be inked and pressed onto paper!). And seeing artists who are so passionate about nature and environmental conservation always makes my heart sing-!
*The mayor of the village stared at my sketchbook for awhile before giving me an interesting critique: "Your trees look too American." I still have no idea what that means, LOL, but I will never forget it!