Artwork for Land Conservation – a new project!

I am excited to be one of approximately 40 artists chosen to participate in the “Legacy of the Land Through Art” mixed-media art exhibit to be on display later this year. 

The exhibit is being hosted by Legacy Land Conservancy, in association with the University of Michigan, Matthaei Botanical Gardens, and the Nichols Arboretum. The first exhibit will be at Matthaei Botanical Gardens this fall and a second exhibit will be at Sandhill Crane Vineyards in the spring of 2014. Fostering recognition of the connection between land and people is a key component of Legacy’s mission, so this exhibit is one way to bring this connection to the public.

Each participating artist is given a land assignment in Washtenaw or Jackson counties to explore. Some are assigned to a preserve managed by Legacy Land Conservancy, while others are assigned to private properties of interest in those two southeastern Michigan counties. The artist is to experience the land directly and create 1 to 3 pieces of art inspired by their interaction. 

I have been assigned to Creekshead Nature Preserve, a 27 acre mature beech-maple-basswood forest with spectacular spring wildflower blooms. I have made about 4 or 5 trips out to Creekshead this spring. Ironically, due to a scheduling problem of my own right at the peak, I missed the height of the spring wildflower blooms. Yikes! I nearly panicked, but in my trips to the preserve, I did manage to see and identify a number of species of wildflowers, including:

  • spring beauty
  • jack-in-the-pulpit
  • large white trillium
  • nodding trillium
  • baneberry
  • cut-leaved toothwort
  • bloodroot
  • mayapple
  • trout lily 
  • wild geranium

My trips out were sometimes brief and other times with my husband and young kids, so I only did a few field sketches. I took nearly 250 reference photos, though, and am currently working on more detailed studies from my photos. Some of these preliminary studies are below:

Jack-in-the-pulpit field sketches and notes.

Jack-in-the-pulpit study in graphite. This was done in my sketchbook which is Stonehenge paper, so it has a slightly rough texture.

This is a study of wild geranium that I just started. It’s in graphite (apologies for the quick photo, rather than a scan). The lower right corner has a small color study (ink and colored pencil) of the flower buds. This was done on Fabriano Artistico Extra White Hot Press watercolor paper. It takes layers of pencil well and also has a nice, smooth texture for blending.


This is a graphite study of a mayapple blossom done in my Stonehenge sketchbook.

And here is an experiment on tan, toned paper. This is a white trillium (Trillium grandiflorium) study. I used graphite and then layered some colored pencil on top. The paper did not take the layers of pencil well, so I only did a partial study. Still, interesting to get a feel for the subject.

I am looking forward to doing additional studies and then deciding on what my final pieces will contain. I found it very intriguing to be in the preserve past-peak, wondering what the different plants were without an identifying blossom attached, so I am considering doing a piece of just leaves from different plants.  

What do you think might make a compelling piece? What would you be curious to see in an exhibit like this?

I will keep posting with my progress as I continue drawing and making composition decisions. I do also post updated sketches on my Facebook page and Flickr account, so feel free to check those more frequently. 

3 thoughts on “Artwork for Land Conservation – a new project!

  1. Hi Carol, your land conservation project sounds fun. Congrats on being invited to take part.I'll be watching to see what more you discover as the seasons pass by out there. Yesterday I found two morel mushrooms, seems a little late in the season for them, but maybe not, considering the slow warming we've had this spring in our area. Glad you're keeping yourself outdoors and drawing.

  2. Thanks, Anita and Janene! Yes, I look forward to exploring the preserve this summer and fall. Hope you are both able to get out and about to do some drawing of all the great spring plants!Carol

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