Monday, November 6, 2023

Pine Needles Artist Residency 2023

This summer, I had the honor of spending two weeks on the St. Croix River as Pine Needles Artist in Resident, where I immersed myself in science and nature and the magic of this special place.

Huge thanks to the St. Croix Watershed Research Station and the Science Museum of Minnesota for this amazing program and for making this experience possible!

For more highlights from my residency, head on over to my Instagram.

A canoe was provided, which meant plenty of time on the river!

Checking out the nearby Franconia Sculpture Park with my little guy, Rusty.

My humble little workspace overlooking the St. Croix River.

Sitting in on an archeological dig near the cabin.

Touring the collections at the Science Museum of Minnesota!

Filling my sketchbook

Little treasures everywhere

The basswood trees bloomed during my stay. The scent was heavenly!

Such an inspiring experience!

Friday, January 13, 2023

Gallery Opening: Desert Reflections

Making art feels good. But it never feels quite "done" until it's up on the wall.

Grateful for the opportunity to show my work at the ZACC in July!

Works by the ZACC’s Laura Grace Barrett Resident Artist Lia Mendez

Blackfoot Communications Gallery, July 2022

Missoula, Montana

In Western culture, deserts are often mischaracterized as "wastelands," devoid of life and value. Yet desert ecosystems sustain a rich tapestry of life, including plants, insects, animals, and of course the Indigenous peoples who have inhabited and stewarded these arid lands since time immemorial. These works celebrate the biodiversity of desert life and remind us of the inherent value of these lands, which are becoming increasingly threatened by human development and environmental degradation; occasionally even by products masquerading as "green" initiatives, such as industrial solar farms. It's an issue that highlights the fact that technology alone cannot solve the environmental challenges of our time. It is up to humanity to collectively reassess and reinvest – practically, emotionally, and spiritually – in our relationship with the living Earth which sustains us.

Monday, January 9, 2023

Printmaking Residency at the ZACC

 In 2022, I was selected for the Laura Grace Barrett Printmaking Residency at the Zootown Arts Community Center (ZACC) in Missoula, Montana. As part of my 4-month residency, I assisted with printmaking workshops at the ZACC's well-equipped studio, learned new skills, and pursued my own printmaking projects.

With access to the ZACC's quality tools and presses, I was able to try my hand at woodblock printing for the first time. After years of working with linoleum, working with wood presented both an interesting challenge and some beautifully crisp lines and textures. 

I loved the look and feel of this new medium so much, I even experimented with turning the carved block into a work of art.

Another first was trying my hand at screen printing. Compared to the labor-intensive process of hand-carving blocks for printing, the immediacy of burning a screen from an inked drawing was a lot of fun.

For this piece, I traced mushroom straight from my sketchbook.

I think my favorite application of this medium was printing on clothing. Below you can see how the shroomies turned out printed on a black cotton tee (now one of my favorites shirts). 

Thank you to the ZACC staff and the wonderful team in the print studio for having me! Everyone's warmth and expertise made this residency an incredibly rewarding experience.

Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Shop Update!

 Laser-etched wooden pins and magnets are now available in my shop!

These were a fun collaboration project with Adam. 
I created vector files from my block prints, painted the plywood, and Adam figured out the rest!

Thanks for letting me share my art with you!

Saturday, October 23, 2021

Printable Bookmarks!

I know a beautiful bookmark brings me a lot of joy while I'm reading, so here are three of my own designs that you can print and cut out at home to share with family and friends! Donations and/or tips may be made to my Venmo account @SmallFoxPress. Suggested donation: $3 per design, or two for $5. Thank you for supporting my art! 

How to Download:

  • Right click on the image you wish to download and select "Save Image As"

Printing Tips:
  • Print on white card stock (acid free is best)
  • Set print job to "Best Quality"
  • Print at 100% scale (borderless if possible)
  • Let paper dry completely before cutting
  • If you don't have a paper cutter, lay a ruler over the paper where you want to cut and use a craft knife to get a straight edge (practice on scrap paper to get the hang of it!)

Painted Lady in the Zinnias

Roots and Greens

Saturday, December 5, 2020

Kern River Parkway Bandanas

Last summer I had the honor of creating limited edition bandanas for a fundraiser benefitting my favorite local conservation organization, the Kern River Parkway Foundation. Established in 1985, the Kern River Parkway Foundation is a volunteer-run nonprofit that works to protect, preserve, and restore the natural riparian and wildlife habitat of the Kern River in Bakersfield. Everything that makes my hometown beautiful and livable - the river, the bike path, the wildlife and nature preserves - I owe to a small handful of local heroes who fought hard to keep it that way. I'm so thankful that I was able to use my time and talent to help bring awareness to their amazing work.

I wanted the bandana designs to highlight some of the native plant and animal species that live among the riparian habitat that KRPF works so tirelessly to preserve and restore.

California Kit Fox and Jimson Weed

One design features two of our state's most iconic species: The California Quail and California Poppy. On the bandana, both the poppy flower and seed pod are depicted in various stages of development. The inspiration for this idea came after noticing how enjoying the parkway trails on a weekly (and sometimes daily) basis has helped attune my senses to the subtle rhythm of the plants and animals all around me. I notice the first frilly, blue-green poppy plants emerge from the soil as the earth warms up after winter, and anxiously anticipate the very first "pop" of golden flowers in spring. As humans, this conscious connection to the land fosters a personal sense of belonging and appreciation for our home, and is vital to our wellbeing.

One of the best parts about the Kern River Parkway is the fact that it's a little slice of nature in an otherwise arid, (sub)urban environment. The Parkway is an oasis in the desert; a sanctuary within the city. But did you know that we almost never had a Parkway? Or a bike trail? Or any of our priceless open spaces and preserves that make life in Bakersfield livable?

California Poppies and Quail

Quail and Poppies Bandana Design

Kit Fox and Jimson Weed Design

If you have found refuge along the river, cleared your head with a bike ride along the trail, soothed your soul with a walk, a run, a family picnic at one of the many riverside parks - you understand the value of the Kern River Parkway.

The fact is that in order to thrive, the river needs our help. It needs our love and attention. It needs our voice. For over 35 years, the incredible volunteers at Kern River Parkway Foundation have been leading the way in this work. With your support, we will continue to protect and preserve the most beautiful part of this place we call home for many more years to come.

Friday, July 17, 2020

Nature Journaling

This past year has been rich with growth and inspiration, as I've delved in deeper into my interests in both printmaking and environmental science. From immersive natural history lessons in the Sierra Nevada mountains through the UC CALNAT program, to linocut printmaking in the letterpress studio at Penland School of Craft, I've had the privilege of learning from some truly incredible artists, scientists, and teachers.

One of my first and most influential experiences in 2019 was learning the art of nature journaling from the master of the medium himself, John Muir Laws. In March of 2019, I attended a two-day workshop led by renowned Bay Area-based naturalist, artist, author, and teacher, John Muir Laws. Designed for educators, the experiential workshop engaged participants in various journaling practices that inspired deeper scientific observation and inquiry. As students, we were invited to notice, wonder, and reflect - not just on our natural surroundings, but upon our inner experience as well.

Looking at nature for the first time through an interdisciplinary lens of science, art, and soul ignited a powerful spark for me. And I haven't looked at the world in the same way since. 

Nature Journaling in the field with John Muir Laws

Smitten with this newfound medium of nature journaling, I began looking into other classes to further develop my skills in scientific drawing and observation. A few weeks later, I was enrolled in an online course in Natural History Illustration offered through the University of New Castle, Australia.

Specimen studies in my sketchbook 

Pages are often filled slowly over time

The course helped me to sharpen my eye and gain a beginner's understanding of things like botanical structure and animal anatomy. It also provided me with a crash course in drawing fundamentals, and taught me the basics of value and composition (concepts that I'd never formally studied as a self-taught, "figure it out as I go" artist).

Though much of my art has long been inspired by nature - and plants and animals have always factored heavily into my work - up until my introduction to nature journaling, I had simply been content to interpret my subjects stylistically. But after leafing through the exquisite pages of Laws' nature journals, and later marveling at the beautifully detailed and scientifically accurate drawings of Portland-based artist Zoe Keller, I was inspired to take my skills and understanding in this department to the next level.

A squirrel skull - A lucky find

Back home at my desk

Now I feel as though my fascinations with art and nature have fused into a single, powerful force of curiosity and creativity. And I'm excited to see where this journey leads. 

A female Western Tiger Swallowtail
that my husband pulled from a spider's web in our backyard

Lots of detail

After a light wash of watercolor

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Printable Coloring Pages!

Donations and/or tips may be made to my Venmo account @SmallFoxPress. Suggested donation: $2 per design, or get all five for $6. Thank you for supporting my art!

How to Download:

  • Right click on the image you wish to download and select "Save Image As"

Printing Tips:
  • Print single-sided
  • Set print job to "Best Quality"
  • Print at 100% scale (borderless, if possible)

Monday, December 30, 2019

San Joaquin Kit Fox

As an artist who draws great inspiration from my environment and love of nature, I'm forever contemplating ways to utilize my creative abilities to help educate and advocate for a healthier Earth. One issue that has especially weighed on my heart and mind this year is the current rate of species extinction. Especially troubling is the fact that some scientists estimate as much as 99% of the extinction crisis is being driven by human activity.

It's a big problem, one that's currently unfolding right in my own backyard.

The San Joaquin Kit Fox (Vulpes macrotis mutica) and Bakersfield Cactus (Opuntia basilaris var. treleasei) are both are listed as federally endangered, largely due to habitat loss associated with human development. Both are native to the part of California where I live. To me, they represent why wildland conservation and conscientious stewardship are so critical to maintaining rich biodiversity and a healthy ecosystem. I've depicted them here in a graphic style as a dual reduction print, meaning a second block was carved and printed to incorporate a layer of cool color on top of the warm hues.

I love where I come from and all of the life this land supports, and I believe it's possible to create solutions that allow both humans and nature to thrive. And as disheartening as it is to witness such great loss of life and land, my spirit is buoyed by the belief in a future in which we value our Home and all of its inhabitants enough to protect and preserve it to the fullest extent
of our human ability.

The finished print

Block One, Color One: Inked and ready to print.

Due to the nature of reduction printmaking, the block is gradually destroyed with each layer of carving. Therefore, an edition of prints is limited to the number of copies made in the very first round of printing.

Progress photo showing the print with two layers of colors, printed in two stages utilizing two separate blocks.

 Transferring the Key Block (the black outline that has been carved from Block One) to Block Two. Use of a print jig and registration tabs ensure that all of the blocks are in perfect alignment as separate layers are printed on top of one another.

So much thought and care go into every print, from the first sketch to the final execution. I love the process of printmaking and all of the fun little puzzles it requires my brain to solve.