At Brushwood Center, we are responding to the COVID-19 crisis by doing what we strive to do year round: build a community around nature and the arts. To help lift up the struggling arts community during this difficult time, we are highlighting a different nature-inspired artist each week and sharing their story with you. We encourage you to reflect on the impact of art in your life, and look for ways to support artists in our community.
This week, we are featuring Stephanie Rose Bird – an award winning artist, arts educator and author with a passion for the natural world and plants in particular. With a bold cacophony of colors, Stephanie captures the life force she sees emanating from her garden in her art. Her work is a vibrant celebration of the power of plants to feed our bodies and heal our souls. We love its boundless expression of joy as the shapes dance and leap off the page.
“As a child, I moved from an urban environment to a rural one and it changed my life forever. Growing up in the Pine Barrens of New Jersey, living in a wetland, among forest creatures and lush vegetation continues to inspire and inform my work. I began working as an artist utilizing the landscape. Many of those early paintings where of the lake on which I grew up. Later, I went further afield and painted the local fields and barns of Salem County. Then I turned inward to still life. Utilizing the tomatoes and eggplants that give New Jersey its name, the Garden State, I found a subject matter that continues to stimulate my imagination.
I went on to become an author, again sharing my passion for nature, while hopefully inspiring others to engage. My books center on herbalism, aromatherapy, healing and plant life. I was brought into the realm of herbalism from my interest in art and craft. I make soap, paper from plants, and my own paint, at times, derived from sea creatures, roots, herbs and minerals. Now I live in the Midwest and have found fresh material from which to work. My recent art has returned to my favorite topics: flowers, fruits, vegetables and landscape specific to this area. I never paint from photographs, preferring instead to work using direction observation from life. I enjoy my daily struggles which capture the specific light conditions of the day, wondering if it will be windy, warm or too cold for work outside.
I utilize a variety of different materials to explore my subjects including sumi-ink, India ink, oil pastels, chalk pastels, conte crayons, aquarelle pencils, oil and acrylic paint. What intrigues me so about plants and the land, is the energy and power they have over us all. They shape and mold us, whether we are aware of this power of not. I make a deliberate attempt to convey the power and wonder of nature in my paintings and drawings, inviting you as a viewer to take a closer look.”
“Nature surrounds us and has an enormous effect on our psyche, outlook and daily life. I like the heliotropic nature of plants, which shows clearly that they are alive and on the move. I am inspired by the various abilities of plants, flowers and trees historically, in folklore and in our contemporary lives. I believe in the healing power of plants and like to try to capture some of that energy and magic in my paintings.”
View Stephanie and fellow artist, Gabriella Boros discussing “The Healing Power of Plants” at their 2019 Dear Earth talk.