Saturday, December 27, 2014

Sylvia Plath: Drawings

First and foremost, Happy Holidays!  I hope all of you got to take a much needed break, spend time with friends and family, and binge-watch something on Netflix (House of Cards in my case - WHOA).  Unfortunately, I've been sick since my break started.. but the extra down time gave me an excuse to enjoy two of my Christmas presents: Beck's newest album Morning Phase (awesome)and a book I have been dying to read, Sylvia Plath: Drawings.  It's really unfair when one person is born with multiple talents, and Sylvia Plath is one of those people.  This book takes a look through her lesser-known talent as an artist, showcasing pen and ink drawings she made during her time at Cambridge, her honeymoon in France and Spain, and her return to the States.  It's really interesting to see these "snapshots" of her every-day life, from things as simple as what she ate for breakfast, to things as extravagent as Parisian rooftops.  But regardless of the subject, you can sense that she deeply cared about everything she drew.   Plath also described her joy of drawing pretty beautifully in a letter to her husband:

"I brought from my walk yesterday, a purple thistle and a dandelion cluster home with me, and drew them both in great and loving detail; I also did a rather bad drawing of a teapot and some chestnuts, but will improve with practice; it gives me such a sense of peace to draw; more than prayer, walks, anything.  I can close myself completely in the line, lose myself in it..."

I just felt like sharing some of them here because they really inspired me to take a closer look at the world around me.  She put so much time into these small details of her life, which gives these drawings more meaning than a simple photo.  They captured moments where she was fully immersed in her life, and that's something I want to work on personally.  So my New Year's resolution is to give myself more time to reflect.  It seems like an unattainable goal in today's society, but what's the point in life if you can't remember any of it?


Bull near Grantchester - 1957, pen and ink
Cambridge: a view of gables and chimney-pots - 1955, ink and wash
Horse Chestnuts - 1956, pen and ink
Purple Thistle - 1956, pen and ink
The Ubiquitous Umbrella - 1955-56, pen and ink


Curious French Cat - 1956, pen and ink
Paris rooftops - 1956, pen and ink
Ted Hughes (detail) - 1956, pen and ink


Bowl of Fruit - 1956, pen and ink
Stove - 1956, pen and ink
White Plaster Tenements on Cliffs over Fishing Bay - 1956, pen and ink

United States

Boat off Rock Harbour, Cape Cod - pen and ink
Study of a Seated Figure - 1957, pen and ink
The Pleasure of Odds and Ends - 1957, pen and ink

P.S. Her signature is perfect.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Love Our Lagoon

If I had to sit down and chose my ultimate dream-job, I would describe it as "combining my artistic and scientific knowledge to save the environment."  So far I haven't found a specific job title for that, so I guess I will have to make one up.  Green Illustrator?  Environartilist?  It's a work in progress.  Anyways, during the past three months, I have had some amazing opportunities to make that dream a reality - specifically in helping raise awareness about the dangers (12, 3) facing our Indian River Lagoon.

After living by it nearly my entire life, the lagoon (or "the river" and "the inlet" in my mind) was always just a routine part of my life.  I never really appreciated how significant it was on a national, and even global scale until recently.  Our lagoon (which spans 156 miles from Merritt Island to Jupiter) is considered to be one of the most biologically unique places in the world, as well as the most biodiverse estuary in North America, containing more than 4,300 species of plants and animals.  It is home to one of the most diverse populations of birds in the US, nearly 1/3 of the nation's manatee population, and it includes the densest area of sea turtle nesting sites found in the Western hemisphere.  Basically, we have a utopia of life unlike any other place on earth, right in our backyard!

But due to exteme pollution from runoff, sudden increases in algae blooms, and harmful invasive species, the IRL has been rapidly declining in health, potentially to the point of no return.  Luckily, there are a lot of great people who are making an effort to preserve and restore this ecosystem, and I have started to get involved in the cause myself!  One project I worked on recently was the 2014 Indian River Lagoon Science Festival, which showcased a variety of research and outreach programs focusing on our lagoon.  I lent my artstic skills to two booths at the festival: the Smithsonian Marine Station and the non-profit organization Coastal Biology, Inc.  For Smithsonian, I drew a few critters to go on their poster (using my favorite Copic markers, of course):
freshwater shrimp (Dulichiella appendiculata)
hermit crab
Florida stone crab
Streblospio benedicti
tulip snail

Smithsonian Marine Station festival poster

And for Coastal Biology, I made a card design for their activity on how to estimate the weight of a green sea turtle based on its carapace length.  The kids loved it, trust me!

Coastal Biology, Inc. sea turtle card

Finally, I recently participated in a "Stormdrain Chalk Art" contest held at the Eau Gallie Fine Arts Festival in Melbourne.  The general concept was to create a stormdrain design that promoted clean water to protect our local habitats.  My design was centered around pollution in our lagoon, and after a full day of public voting, I won third place!!

original design submission
progression of my design
final product!

Contributing my artwork to this cause has been so fulfilling, and it's made me realize that using art to cultivate love and appreciation for the environment is what I truly want to do with my life.  I hope these efforts have inspired some people, especially my fellow Sebastian-ites, to take charge and care for this beautiful place that so many living beings call home.  If you want to get involved, here are a few ways you can make a difference (1, 2, 3)!