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This is the first of my “inspiration” posts – a homage to the people, places, events and works that have shaped my perspective and aesthetic, not just as an artist, but as a human being on this beautiful planet.  I’m starting off with Emma Skurnick’s carefully observed and rendered illustrations of the natural world.

I met Emma in 2001 in Bynum, North Carolina, while working for the Haw River Assembly.  She is warm and softspoken with a deep love for nature.  She produces fine art & murals, creates scientific illustrations, and teaches out of her home / studio in a tiny river town in North Carolina’s Piedmont that’s sometimes referred to as “dog heaven” by locals. Her work has been commissioned by American Scientist Magazine, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, the North Carolina Aquariums, and several publishing companies. In her artist statement, she writes:

By making modest animals large – by painting a toad or songbird three feet tall – perhaps I can startle people into appreciating the world we tend to pass by. By isolating the fox or the lily against a simple white background, perhaps I can allow us to see some of what we miss as we speed along. And by granting these creatures a bit of personality and humor, maybe I can convince a viewer to slow down and consider the beings with whom we share our space.

Her self portrait, which I’ve always admired, illuminates her connection to the earth:

Self Portrait, Emma Skurnick

Self Portrait, Emma Skurnick

I think we could all stand to consider this connection a bit more, and work to nurture it in our own lives.  Thank you, Emma, for setting an example of how to be quiet, how to really look and, in the process, more fully appreciate nature’s gifts.

Hammer Tulip, Emma Skurnick

Hammer Tulip, Emma Skurnick

Visit her website to see more…

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