Q. Tell me more about the Oxbow illustration. Where did you get the idea for it? What was fun or challenging about it?
A. We wanted to tell a story about the park and a story that shows important characteristics of the park that many people might not know about, such as the ancient forest, the buried forest, some of the wildlife, and the epic story of the salmon and how it all comes together in one place.
The whole thing was a blast to paint, it was really fun. A small challenge was to try to paint all these aspects of the park in one scene.
I had never painted any of these species before. Painting the detail, when you paint it or draw it, you really get to know something. Seeing all the characteristics of not only the park but the species was super fun.
Q. What made you decide to paint it using watercolors?
A. That is the only medium I feel drawn to, and I have never felt like I want to try anything else. I have tried and have done some art in ink but watercolors are super colorful.
What I love about watercolors is that the finished product for me is always uncertain, because they always end up something different than what you’re thinking. The consistency of water adds this uncertainty to what the pigment is going to do. There are things you can control in watercolors but there’s always this element that is uncontrollable and that creates its own thing.
I had an idea of what this illustration was going to look like. The fact that I did it with watercolors ended up creating different shades of colors in trees, in the river.
Q. What inspires your art?
A. I think like most artists, it’s just the need to express emotion and express your own perspective of experience. I mainly like painting my dreams and by putting these abstract feelings and emotions out on paper and with color, it helps you understand them and integrate them better into your consciousness.
Q. Do you usually paint nature?
A. I started to paint nature when I started to have more dreams in nature and dreams where wildlife would show up, and then I was fascinated by all the detail in nature and trees and wildlife.
So I think the more that you fall in love with painting detail and any subject, the more that you want to be around it. And that happened to me with nature.
Q. How do you see nature and art intersect?
A. I think that like nature, art is a process that happens intrinsically. I think it unravels and moves toward something. There’s something very creative about that, about this process that happens both in nature and art. It’s like, through the unraveling, there’s discovering and creation.
Q. What are some of your favorite parks, natural areas or landscapes to paint?
A. I think anywhere in the Pacific Northwest is so fun to paint because there’s these forests covered in bright, green moss, like fluorescent moss that you can’t find in too many places. And there’s also the coast, which is a totally different landscape.
I’ve really been into painting misty forests. I like painting everything, really. Everything is an awesome challenge. I want to paint everything, even cemeteries like Lone Fir. I don’t like painting cities. I’d rather paint nature.
Q. What is it about painting nature that you really like?
A. The colors, the variety of textures. The fact that it’s not manmade, that it’s not planned so much. Nature has this uncertainty in how it’s going to unfold. It can do things you didn’t know it was going to do. The city is just so planned. It’s just boxes, boxes we go in and out of.