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Today I took another trip to Lake Michigan and started off at Saugatuck Dunes State Park, where I hiked down to the lakeshore and then traversed the steep coastal dunes and rolling hills with my wool roving and felting block to find a good place to work.


Earlier in June, I had visited Saugatuck Dunes to scope out the land and take pictures to begin formulating some ideas for what scene I would use.


Coming back a second time in August, I was strikingly amazed by how different a varied layering of clouds, or softer tone of light can make the same scene appear. This organic ability to always be changing and never be exactly alike is what I appreciate so much about water and nature. Always flowing, yet always there, nature presents this steady sense of calm that I hope people will help to always preserve.


Once I found a grass-tipped hill with a view worthy of the spectacular layering of sand and grass and treeline and peninsula and cresting waves I saw around me, I plopped down with my wool and began recapturing the scenery that was so materially there around me, spanning in all directions.


When needle-felting, I typically work from images I have photographed while out in nature, sequestered back to my workspace indoors. I have found, however, that actually physically being there, in the moment and surrounded by the scenery I am creating has an entirely different effect on my work’s outcome. I can take in the wide-open expanse of blue sky reflected by the gleaming stretch of water, light refracting on its surface. I can really feel the sweeping power of the curved bluff in the distance and the grounded aspect of the dunes I am sitting on. This real connection with nature is what I hope to portray in my artwork, so that my audience is able to feel the genuine powers of nature, too.


Today was my first ever visit to the Flower Creek Dunes Nature Preserve, located along the shores of Lake Michigan in Montague, MI.


What a beautiful start to this awesome project! I was essentially alone on the beach, taking in nature's untouched splendor with a completely naked eye. Soft sand underfoot, I hiked up to a trail along the ridge and was met by the panoramic expanse of Lake Michigan blues. From this birds-eye vantage point I was able to get some awesome pictures of the curved peninsulas to either side of me. Looking out upon the scenery, I could already picture the assortment of dyed-blue wools I would be using for the waves, and the amount of fibrous cream roving I would punch down with my needle for the cumulus clouds overhead.


Not only taking in the beauty of Flower Creek Dunes, I was simultaneously analyzing each cresting wave, the slopes of the surrounding land mass, and the turquoise tones of the water.


From needle-felting, I have acquired this inclination towards being hyper-aware of the scenery around me. I can analyze the world in terms of wool fibers and colors of dye, which is a different world, but one that I am highly familiar with. Felting allows me to combine the familiar with the unfamiliar; I learn about the qualities of my subjects as I manipulate the complexities of the needle-felting medium.


In addition to that, I also am constantly learning more about my medium, too. The nature of wool roving fibers is highly organic and constantly changing--the ambiguity of the direction the fibers will lay or the texture the wool will display evokes a sense of natural movement and pure depth. That is why I think needle-felting and lake scenes go so well together. I can only manipulate the rushing of waves with my needle and wool so much, but that is when the fibers' natural tendency towards movement takes over and the wholesomeness of both wool and nature shines through.


This is why I feel so comfortable with my subjects; the location may be new to me, but the characteristics of nature are not.


When I look out upon a Michigan lakeshore scene, or out over a wildflower green meadow, I can say that I "know" those scenes. Even if the imagery is new to me, I can dissect the familiar colors of the sky and the warm-toned hues of the grasses and the hazy purple stretch of rolling peninsula and find their underlying connections--all entirely due to the art-making process.

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