beneath the prairie

Beneath the Prairie, encaustic, 6×6 inches

Two weeks or so ago we went to the The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum to get out of the dreary weather and discover a new place to explore with our little guy. The museum is made for kids with almost every exhibit being interactive, so it was a lot of fun for him. He especially loved the Buttefly house which is just so cool. Butterflies practically landing on you!

There were several exhibits there that focused on the Illinois ecosystem and specifically about its prairie system. I was spellbound by one wall display of the prairie grass and flowers. My husband looked at me and said, “I see the wheels turning in your head”.

And so they have been, quietly. What normally happens is that I get hit with something and then it sits there in my head. Percolating. Mostly I am so busy with life and finishing up other projects that I don’t give it too much attention. Yet, I always know that it’s there. Brewing, waiting for my attention.

Last night I was so tired and did not want to work. At all. I felt so completely drained from chasing after a two year old all day and all I wanted to do was collapse on the couch or veg in front of the computer. But Tuesday evening is my evening to work and so I reluctantly went to my work area. I came back to this piece that I had worked on on Sunday and had come to a dead end with it and was not very happy with it…..and then I pulled out my paints and finished it and am pleased now. So glad that I forced myself to work last night. I want to explore this further and also do some large encaustic pieces in this theme.

I’ve started doing some research on prairies and the habitat that used to be here. It’s pretty sobering.

Yet the more we love this place as it is, the more we feel the pain of what it so recently was. The wild prairie ecosystem is gone. And this tragedy is compounded by the realization that we don’t even know exactly what it is that we have lost. ~ Candace Savage
(2004, Prairie: A Natural History, Greystone Books, Vancouver, BC)

at the butterfly house

And another prairie quote:

…the joy of prairie lies in its subtlety. It is so easy—too easy—to be swept away by mountain and ocean vistas. A prairie, on the other hand, requests the favor of your closer attention. It does not divulge itself to mere passersby. ~ Suzanne Winckler
(2004, Prairie: A North American Guide, University of Iowa Press, Iowa City, IA, p. xi)

Well, I still love and will always love the mountains and the ocean, but I am finding myself fascinated by the prairie now….


  1. Oh you make me so fondly recall my residency at Ragdale: the setting is mind alteringly (hmmm…is that a word?) beautiful and holds some of the only remaining virgin prairie in what is now your new home zone …you may want to trek there and walk the paths when they have an open house…or when the little guy is just a wee bit on in a few years…apply to work there in the solitude of the artist residency program…heaven-ly…they would so love your work.

  2. i just heard a story about the bad economy helping to save some prairies here in illinois…developers are bailing and land conservancy’s are preserving the spaces….yay prairies!

  3. Your beautiful work is driving me nuts! I have been starved of art all week; log into your blog, and see your 6″x6″ and read of prairies … (sorry, I think of Laura Ingalls Wilder and ‘Little House on the Prairie’, and the current trend over here to replicate prairie gardens, and they cannot possible encapsulate the reality). But back to your art … it captivates me, always.

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