Awaken your Senses to the Natural World
Workshop Instructor: Zebith Thalden
Participants & Artwork (see image above): Meg McGill (F/G), AnthonyYoung (A/B), Shari Dallas (C/I/K), Bonnie Little (E/H), Jacelen Pearson (J),& Angie Potter (D/L)
During this three-day workshop participants witnessed both the profound and uniquely subtle elements of estuary, forest, and coastal headland. They conducted their visual research at two locations: Knight Park and Cascade Headland. Both locations are located within the Cascade Head Biosphere Reserve.
First, we visited Knight Park, which offered an intimate view of the Salmon River estuary and wetlands. As with all transition zones between river and maritime environments, this ecosystem is among the most biologically productive on Earth!
The next day, we hiked up to the headland meadow, which is located 1000 feet above the estuary. This aerial view enabled us to connect the estuary to the broader environment, both the landscape and the Pacific Ocean. From this elevated vantage point, we could also see one of only five marine reserves in Oregon. Though the boundaries of this aquatic reserve remained invisible to us, we knew that almost 10 square miles of rocky reef habitat to the south was protected. Many organizations monitor, study, and work to protect these areas including the National Forest Service, Oregon Fish& Wildlife, and the Nature Conservancy, just to name a few.
While at both locations, we spent time documenting our sensory experience of the flora, fauna, landscape, and vista. Through mindful observation we were often transfixed in wonderment.
Sketch book pages were filled with notes and images so that the smells, sounds, feelings, and views could be held in memory and inspire works of art.
After returning to the art studio, as brush or charcoal swiped across paper and paint stained canvas, each participant translated their personal experience of place into colors, patterns, and textures. The artwork that you see above presents individual reflections, which were then compiled into this collective visual story.
Deeply connected to one another and transformed by our experiences, we shared stories and observations that were presented through brushstrokes and creative marks.
Written musings concretized the collective impression of place through words and phrases, which we transformed into the poem you see below. As you read these words and again view the finished artwork, may you hear the bird songs, smell the salt, feel the rush of air, and see the glorious sights that are preserved through ecological conservation.
everything before and everything after
sensation…touch and thought
respond to the unknowable numinous
where inspiration and creativity originate
Choose to See
ocean mirroring sky
wind wave land
relationship to wind
a continent’s edge
millions of years old
long before us and long after
meets largest ocean
everyday barriers dissolve into
values ethics respect
of all the things to think do and be
this beautiful place… is enough.
Zebith Thalden shares her passion and enthusiasm for the outdoors as a nature illustrator, environmental educator, and author. Her own artwork presents hyper-realistic representations of insects, botanicals, amphibians, and other living treasures. Her pieces have been featured in solo and group exhibitions in galleries, cultural centers, and art museums throughout the United States and abroad. She received a BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design and a MFA from Goddard College. Through her instruction, creative work, and interdisciplinary collaborations, she hopes to inspire a deep engagement with the natural world, ecological stewardship, and connection through shared wonderment.