My art starts with photographs—images of special bits of nature that are usually over-shadowed by the imposing mountains, raging waterfalls, busy shopping malls, and vibrant gardens that draw the attention of most visitors to a place. My intent is to draw people into a scene and remind them not only of the beauty of the physical world but of the mysterious connection we all have with it. I’ve succeeded with an image if I’ve captured the energy of the subject in such a way that the viewer responds with surprise or awe. These are not just pretty pictures, they are thin places in a veil through which we peer, catching glimpses of the majesty of which we are a part.
My nature mandalas spring from my photographs. As a meditation practice, I browse through my images, looking for inspiration for the day among the flowers, trees, butterfly wings, dragonflies, garden beds, and thousands of bees that I’ve photographed. Once I select an image, I identify a single slice with interesting detail and patterning and then use geometry and Photoshop to copy, flip, and paste that slice to create a circular mandala. Hidden patterns in the photograph are always revealed in the process. I use color replacement to draw these patterns forward; never adding line or shape to a piece, but working within the constraints imposed by the original photograph. My finished mandalas convey the emotion of the photograph—be it calm, mysterious, or strong energy—while oftentimes obscuring the original subject of the photo. The effect allows the viewer to feel the pieces without the distraction of preconceived associations with the subject.
I am a nature photographer, artist, and author based in Morgantown, WV. I was born in Oregon and raised in rural Maryland, just twenty miles from the art galleries and museums of downtown Washington, DC. I was always drawn to nature, art, and writing, and choose natural resources as my early career path. As a result, I lived and worked in several interesting corners of the country (including on an island off the coast of Alaska) before moving to Morgantown in 1990 to pursue a graduate degree.
After earning a doctorate in forestry at West Virginia University in 1995, I stayed in Morgantown and worked in numerous fields including forest research, garden design, and computer simulation modeling. Skills in mapping and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) eventually led me to a corporate career in market analytics, which I left in early 2014 to pursue the arts and environmental advocacy.
Although I enjoy working in a variety of media, I’m best known for my nature mandalas (circular photographic illustrations that I create from digital photographs) and my wildflower photography. I also enjoy creating quirky pen and ink drawings, examples of which can be found tucked into my novel, “Giving Voice to Dawn”, published in late 2016.
My degrees in natural resources inform and ground my art in depictions of the natural world. I have a B.S. Wildlife and Fisheries (Virginia Tech) and Ph.D. Forest Resources Science (West Virginia University).