Monday, January 28, 2013

I'd like to be more like John Muir

    I think John Muir just might be my all time hero. His essays and journals about his travels in nature and his life in general are full of inspiration and of love. I admire his simple lifestyle, and he puts into words, better than I ever could, just how I feel about this planet and nature. I have had so many beautiful, and down right pure fun, times hiking through the woods, sitting in a tree, floating on the river, strolling through the tall prairie grass, cooling off in the creek...countless memories! Anyway, here are some of my favorite quotes of all time.

“Going to the woods is going home.” 

Painting by Colleen Veyna.

Portrait of John Muir by liseljane

"Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where Nature may heal and cheer and give strength to body and soul alike."

"Fresh beauty opens one's eyes wherever it is really seen, but the very abundance and completeness of the common beauty that besets our steps prevents its being absorbed and appreciated. It is a good thing, therefore, to make short excursions now and then to the bottom of the sea among dulse and coral, or up among the clouds on mountain-tops, or in balloons, or even to creep like worms into dark holes and caverns underground, not only to learn something of what is going on in those out-of-the-way places, but to see better what the sun sees on our return to common everyday beauty. "

"There is a love of wild nature in everybody an ancient mother-love ever showing itself whether recognized or no, and however covered by cares and duties." 

Learn more about John Muir here:

Read some of his writings:

Friday, January 25, 2013

Dreaming of ferrets

Throughout my life, I have always developed close relationships with my pets. In grade school I made a whole comic series about my cats Jasmine, Casper, and Zoey. I still have dreams about our dear family dog Pricilla who lived to be 16. The first night in my dorm after moving to Chicago for school I was under a lot of stress, and I dreamt that mine and my now husband's dog (Polkamoe. He is 11 and still acts like a puppy!) was at my side licking my face, haha. They were all such big parts of my life, but probably the biggest connection I ever made was with my ferrets Clyde, Bonnie, Boogie, and Sophie, and most notably with Boogie. Boogie was my baby and just a very dear friend. Clyde died in 2008, Bonnie in 2011, and just last year Boogie and Sophie passed away.

I miss them all very much and I think about them every day. Having a relationship with an animal is a very beautiful and interesting experience. Even though we are different species it is amazing that we are able to communicate and share mutual feelings.

Last night I had a dream that I found a young white ferret in a parking lot. Boogie was white, but this ferret wasn't Boogie. It seemed to be abandoned so I took it and played with it. It wasn't trained, so it bit hard when it played, but I didn't care. It was a lot of fun to play with a ferret again, and I woke up thinking about my friends. I could talk about my animals friends for a long time, but I'll stop here :) Have you ever had an animal that was or is particularly dear to you? I love to hear about other people's pets.

This post is for all my pets. I don't have pictures of all of them on this computer, but here are some :)

Boogie portrait

Pokey's legs



Portrait of Polkamoe.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Arranging Nature - Art by Jennifer Angus

I just saw an amazing installation by Jennifer Angus at NIU's Olson Gallery. She uses bugs from around the world to create patterns that reference textiles and wallpaper. I'm not sure how I feel about using bugs for art (there are just SOOO MANY!). Using living creatures for decorative purposes does bother me, but I know she re-uses a lot of the bugs, and none of them are endangered. She feels that her art might introduce these creatures to people who didn't even know they existed and therefor raise awareness about loss of rainforest habitat. Either way, it is beautiful and the installation catered to my interest in natural history and reminded me of my own plant mandala work.


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Prairie Mandala in Progress

I'm currently working on a mandala using only plants naturally found in Northern IL. 

in progress - common milkweed seeds and their silky hairs that are meant to carry them in the wind.

center images - canada milk vetch seeds. bottom image - common milkweed seeds. 

     Plant materials I've included so far are common milkweed seeds, canada milk vetch seeds, sweet black eyed susan petals, and sumac berries. It's a tedious process gluing the seeds to the board, but the intricate details of the mandalas are part of their appeal. I'm interested in mandalas as symbols of wholeness, and representations of ourselves and the world around us. I consider nature a kind of sacred place, and working on the prairie has shown me it's beauty and how rare and fragile this ecosystem is compared to the built up world people have made. 

Monday, January 21, 2013

Hello, my name is Heather Baker, AKA HB

     I am an artist and a photographer. I love the prairie, ferrets, my husband, and all my wonderful friends and family.

  I make images of creatures, bodies, body parts, body systems, and mandalas out of plant materials

     I volunteer and occasionally work with The Nature Conservancy at Nachusa Grasslands


     And I photograph the people, animals, and things around me, as well as some portrait work.

I plan to use this blog as a space to share  my art and art making process, adventures on the prairie and in the great outdoors, things that inspire me, and to act as somewhat of a diary. I would like it to be mainly image based, but we will see where it leads!