I think my greatest contribution to conservation is opening eyes to see our wonderful world. Art is powerful, but so is education. Not every artist can teach, but I can. It’s a different set of skills. I have found it very rewarding teaching people to see, study, and examine things in a whole new way as they explore and render their subject. I believe it has a stronger impact on them than just looking at a painting. Yet even viewing art can carry a subliminal message that “if this was important enough to take the time to create it, it must have some special worth”. Art has a powerful voice and creating art changes people.
As an artist and art educator, it has always been important to me to follow realism, paying close attention to details and learning about the subject. It has been important to me to teach proper techniques and use of materials, and give my students a sound foundation of drawing, form, composition, color theory and mixing, etc. I also feel it is important to teach my students to look a little closer, to see the world differently and notice the amazing things around them, rather than just “express themselves.”
I especially appreciate teaching at the Art Institute where there is such a treasure trove of subject matter and specimens to learn from. I have been full time faculty at the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum’s Art Institute since 2011. But not everyone I teach is working towards the Nature Illustration Certificate offered there. Many take classes there but don’t want the certificate. And many of my other students are active seniors seeking to learn something significant that they always wanted to, but never had the time. For the past twelve years I have also taught classes to active seniors who crave expanding their minds and art skills through Green Valley Recreation, teaching them the same basic material I teach at the ASDM - Art Institute. They may not have expected to get some of those special lessons in noticing the details of the wonderful world around us, but they get them.
One of my favorite things as an instructor is to help my students see the world with “new eyes,” whether its serious students pursuing specific goals, active seniors hungry to learn something new, or the classrooms full of children I regularly work with through the “science door” in a local school district helping them notice the subtle details and individuality of plants and animals in a scientific way rather than an artistic way. Either way, spending that time observing, drawing and painting, gives a person a better understanding and appreciation of the subject no matter how old they are.
It is a wonderful and blessed opportunity of mine to open people’s eyes and broaden their minds. I so often hear statements like, “ I can’t believe I am this old, and yet I have never noticed that before!” It is one of my most favorite things; to hear them make a comment like that and have a light in their eyes like the light bulb has just been turned on. When people truly see and learn about something, it changes the way they encounter it in the future. Helping them see this special place, the Sonoran Desert, in a different way, makes their life richer and helps change their behavior towards it.
I have donated my artwork to the annual fund raiser gala event at the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum, and its Art Institute’s permanent collection, and to Habitat for Humanity.
I pledge to donate 10% of my painting sales to The Arizona Sonora Desert Museum.