Wow, what a year.
German poet Christian Morgenstern’s poem “The Seagulls” begins “seagulls look as though their name were Emma.” It makes our world sound so simple, everything in nature is as it is, in place and together. The artist, however, dissects her world, sees patterns, colors, sometimes multiple colors in a single moss-covered rock in the forest. Which leads to the question, are all forests the same? And is nature really that simple?
In early March, as the COVID curtain enveloped an otherwise beautiful spring, our family had few options other than to go for walks deep into the Bavarian forests. Dark. Quiet. Birds were heard but rarely seen. Fortunately, in Germany, even private land has walking trails into the woods. Beautiful. Old. Calm. Dominating. Quiet. Impressive. Simple. Peaceful. All woods appear to be Emma. Are they anything more than trees and leaves and the occasional mushroom? My husband’s family is full of biologists (I know, Thanksgiving is REALLY nerdy), and by accident, his mother sent us several botany books for this part of the world. Exploring nature with my daughter, returned me to a love of basic science: naming, categorizing, and understanding similarities and differences.
This is the inspiration for my 2021 calendar. Our world is so simple…birds are birds. Trees are trees. Same is same. But the world isn’t that simple. Bird species live in preferential habitats, have food they like to eat, methods they make their nest, and ways to raise their young. The Cuckoo bird doesn’t bother to raise its own young but has other birds do it for them. The world can actually be dissected, categorized, and understood.
This beautiful complex world around us doesn’t evolve in front of our eyes but over millennia. I, however, have evolved as an artist over the past twelve months. My business has grown, my skills deepened, my breadth widened. My daughter’s daycare now has a mural painted by me.
Two out of five working days are spent painting pet portraits as I attempt to capture the full window of their soul in their eyes. It’s a great honor when families share their fur baby with me, and I in turn have the opportunity to create a forever depiction of the love and memories they’ve made together.
There are very few Naval ports in Bavaria (actually none), so while continuing to create custom Nautical charts, I’ve also branched into land charts for soldiers. Of course, house portraits are always my number one bestseller and on top demand, especially during Christmas. But what I really want you to know is, even though Covid has complicated our lives and many things you might have planned have been canceled, don’t be afraid to branch out and try new things. You really might surprise yourself there. Just because our lives are different now, it doesn’t mean different is bad. Turn it around and make it great.
Going full circle, how many species of gull are there? The answer is 50. So, are they all named Emma? Susie? Karen? (no, not that Karen ☺ ) Maybe Steve. The answer to the question of simplicity is no, a seagull is not just a seagull.
I hope my calendar is an inspiration for others to join me, to explore their world to a deeper degree. This year try to understand the nature around you, the creation that is, the complex beauty that goes unnoticed by so many every day.