eaves-dropping on nature

Beginner’s Mind: some personal observations on the art of observing, from naturalist Thomas Eisner.

"eaves-dropping" on nature - Thomas Eisner


How is it, I am often asked, that I make discoveries? I always feel a bit awkward about answering the question, because I do not have a particular method. The truth is that I spend a fair amount of time looking around. I already knew as a boy that if I wanted to see things happen – if I wanted to win the revelatory lottery of nature – I had to buy a lot of tickets. So it was in my youth that I formed the habit of taking exploratory walks, whenever possible and as often as possible, for the sole purpose of “eaves-dropping” on nature. Naturalists thrive on such walks, driven by curiosity and the hope of witnessing chance events. Taken at face value, such events may not amount to much. But they may “connect” to what you already know, to previous observations stored away in your memory, and thus take on added meaning. There has to be a constant readiness to make such connections. Every tidbit of new information, no matter how trivial, has the potential of amounting to more than a speck of colour. Properly assigned to the pointillist canvas that constitutes your inner view of the natural world, the new speck adds dimension to the vision.

… I have been extremely lucky in having nature reveal itself on occasion through chance events in my presence. I can remember as if it were yesterday witnessing for the first time Utetheisa being cut from a spider web, or Chrysopa dressing itself as an aphid, or Ammophila carrying a “flower,” and I yearn for future occasions when I may again be granted unexpected glimpses into the workings of nature. One of the great joys of returning to your natural haunts time and again, is that you have the opportunity of grasping the broader image. Observations tend then to become cumulative, to be evocative and revelatory in ways that are not possible until you begin to feel at home in the area. For the naturalist, in fact, feeling at home means having achieved a biological appreciation of a region.

– Thomas Eisner
For the Love of Insects

organic art at malibu

or·gan·ic  (ôr-gān’ĭk)


Deb Haugen "organic art"


1          Of, relating to, or derived from living organisms: organic matter.

2          Simple, healthful, and close to nature: an organic lifestyle

3          Resembling a living organism in organization or development; interconnected: society as an organic whole.

4          Constituting an integral part of a whole; fundamental.

5          Involving organisms or the products of their life processes.

I first thought about the concept of “Organic Art” while walking the creek bed behind my home in Malibu, Ca.  I wanted to capture on canvas the feel of  hiking the trails, or exploring the creek.  I wanted to convey my response of nature, something that had a truly innate natural look and feel to it.  To take it a step further, I wanted to show the fundamentals of nature that we see daily, that are so strikingly familiar to us, and their relationship to time.  I’m also intrigued by micro assemblages, tucked just below the surface, unusual hidden worlds.  Macro and micro organic happenings are ongoing constantly, natural occurrences that also have to do with the passage of time.  Time reveals itself through rotted wood, new growth, death, strata on the side of a mountain wall, all these things show the evolution of our Earth, organic markings of the passage of time.

Now, mix these with feelings of emotion, physical movement of an artist responding to nature, and you have what I call….Organic Art.  It is an artist’s vision of nature, nature’s movement through time, and that particular artist’s feelings, and responses.  I want the viewer to re-live an atmospheric memory in their relationship to nature and my artwork.

Organic art can also be termed “Organic” by the materials an artist is using.  Artists use organic pigments, leaves, branches, berries, stones, etc.  An assemblage of natural materials, a sculpture in wood or marble, stones stacked/placed along side a river…or even crop circles, they are all examples of what I would term Organic Art.

– Deb Haugen

Read more about Deb Haugen and her Organic Art at her website http://theorganicartist.com/
Or visit her blog at http://theorganicartist.wordpress.com/

Frederick Franck’s to-do list

doveFFFrederick Franck, Dove

the promise of painting post reminded me of Frederick Franck’s to-do list.  He called it his 10 Commandments:

These Ten Commandments on seeing/drawing were revealed to me on a mountain, but also in a meadow, on a beach and even in the subway.  For their revelation did not come all at once, but in installments, as it were, over the years, and always while I was busy drawing, and invariably on holy ground.  But that may be because, while drawing, all ground is holy: unseparated from the Whole.

1  You shall draw everything and every day

2  You shall not wait for inspiration, for it comes not while you wait but while you work

3  You shall forget all you think you know and, even more, all you have been taught

4  You shall not adore your good drawings and promptly forget your bad ones

5  You shall not draw with exhibitions in mind, nor to please any critic but yourself

6  You shall trust none but your own eye, and make your hand follow it

7  You shall consider the mouse you draw as more important than the contents of all the museums in the world, for

8  You shall love the ten thousand things with all your heart and a blade of grass as yourself

9  Let each drawing be your first:  A celebration of the eye awakened

10  You shall not worry about “being of your time”, for you are your time

And it is brief

– Frederick Franck, The Awakened Eye

For more info about Frederick Franck visit the awakened eye website