December 11, 2013

No fear.

"The fishermen know that the sea is dangerous and the storm terrible, 
but they have never found these dangers sufficient reason for remaining ashore."

  -Vincent Van Gogh

Follow your Bliss.

December 2, 2013

Sarah Hatton and Bees

Over the past weekend A very dear friend of mine came to visit me. We had a wonderful time together staying up late and having a three hour breakfast at the kitchen table. At one point I was telling her about my We are all in this together project. Her eyes got wide and she sat up straight in her chair patiently waiting for me to finish my sentence. “Can you paint a honey bee?!” she asked me with apparent excitement.

“…ummm well, maybe, is it related?” I answered. Despite anyone’s passion, I want to stick to my theme of climate change.

“Yes!” she replied. She went on to tell me a great and very local reason why the honey bee would be perfect for my project. My friend is a new and avid bee-keeper and loves to talk to anyone about them who will listen. Her passion is not held by her alone.

Bees are integral and essential to plant pollination around the world. Along with other animals such as butterflies, moths, other insects, bats, and birds, bees have co-evolved with flowering plants. In many cases the plants rely on the these creatures for pollination and reproduction. The symbiotic relationship is a beautiful one, but it is also extremely fragile, prone to upsets at even the smallest of changes.  

Over the past decade or so, the accounts of colony collapse disorder have increased in North America and Europe sparking environmental, social and economic concern. The phenomenon itself, which is a when the worker bees of a colony suddenly disappear, is not new, but its increased frequency is a cause for concern. There are a few possible causes of colony collapse disorder including pathogens, fungus, mites, and malnutrition. Many experts, including the European Food Safety Authority, are attributing the recent increase in colony collapse on the use of modern pesticides. 

This issue is complex and still being studied to be fully understood. One person who picked up on this multidimensional and international issue is Sarah Hatton. A visual artist who predominantly works in paint, branched out to create her body of work called "Bees". 

Here is the statement of "Bees" from Hatton herself:

The link between neonicotinoid pesticides and the worldwide decline of bee populations is a crisis that cannot be ignored.
I have arranged thousands of dead honeybees in mathematical patterns symbolically linked to monoculture crops, such as the Fibonacci spiral found in the seed head of the sunflower.

The viewer experiences the vertigo of this lifeless swarm, a dizzying optical illusion that echoes the bees’ loss of ability to navigate due to the toxins locked within the very source of their sustenance.

Sarah Hatton in front of her Bee work

Hatton's Bee piece

Hatton's Bee piece

Hatton's Bee piece

Bees from Hatton's piece

November 23, 2013

We are all in this together: My next project

This is my Kickstarter for my next project. 
Check it out, pass it along, and support in any way you can! 
I only have 30 days to raise my goal so I can make this a reality, please help!

November 21, 2013

The Artist

As an artist, create from the heart, do what you love, address what you are passionate about, spread your passion to others, create a world for others to be a part of. Be honest, raw, and constantly evolving. Love what you do.

"Every good painter paints what he is."

-Jackson Pollock

November 20, 2013

COP 19

My life has been in flux all fall, and clearly my blog has been given a small vacation. But no fear, it has not left my heart and thoughts!

This morning I just want to address a few quick things.

First of all I have been working on a Kickstarter campaign that will be up and running very shortly. I am pretty excited about it and hope all my readers check it out!

Second, mostly unrelated, it is my brother’s birthday today! (This is a cheerful prep for the third thing…)

Third, from everything that I have read and heard so far, COP 19 might just end as disappointingly as the previous 18 and others. For you who do not know, COP 19 stands for the 19th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)….A mouthful right? It is basically an intergovernmental meeting with the purpose of agreeing on actions to combat, mitigate, adapt, and face climate change. So far, they have actually done pretty much nothing to combat or even mitigate climate change, and environmentalists around the world hope each year that they will come to a binding international agreement to lower greenhouse gas emissions and hopefully avoid catastrophic climate change and tipping points that might take climate change out of our hands and beyond our ability to deal with it.

Just like the beginning of COP 18 in Doha, Qatar, this year the COP commenced as a serious Typhoon hit the low-lying nation of the Philippines. This year Super Typhoon Haiyan, or Yolanda as it is referred to in the Philippines, hit land with unmatched intensity. So far it is the second deadliest typhoon ever to hit the Philippines. In the days after the storm hit, it was postulated that it was the strongest storm ever to landfall in recorded human history.

SuperTyphoon Haiyan

What is even more serious is that many prominent and reputable political and climate professionals are linking the severity of Haiyan to climate change. What more obvious message do our “climate leaders” need to pass significant and meaningful actions on climate change? At least some of our representatives understand and are ready for action.

Survivors of Haiyan still in need

Naderev Madla Saño, more commonly known as Yeb Saño, is the Commissioner of the Philippine’s delegation to the UNFCCC. At COP 18, after his country experienced a destructive typhoon, he gave a moving speech calling for climate action and not to delay any longer. Watch his here speech, it is very moving:
In his speech he asks, “If not us, then who? If not now, then when? If not here, then where?”

Yeb Saño at COP 19

A year later his questions have not been answered. As he traveled to Warsaw, Poland for the COP 19 another devastating typhoon hit his country. At the opening of the climate negotiations Yeb addressed the parties again. This year again asking his pointed questions and pleading with the nations gathered to “end the madness”.  : In his speech he also vowed to fast for the remainder of the climate summit until significant action was taken to combat emissions and address climate change.

On Tuesday evening when I was reading the news and listened to Saño’s speech I was so moved by his presentation and actions that I decided to stand in solidarity with him and fast. Knowing myself, I knew that to maintain my two jobs and finish my Kickstarter I would need to eat some, but I vowed to skip a meal each day symbolically standing with him and indeed all people around the world already negatively affected by climate change. I emailed him telling him what I was doing and thanking him for his dedication and leadership. As it turns out, I was not the only one who was moved to take action in solidarity with Saño. People from around the world as well as delegates at COP 19, including US negotiator Collin Reese are also fasting in solidarity. started #WeStandWithYou petition demanding climate action, which Saño presented to the conference with over 600,000 signatures on Tuesday, November 19.

Yeb Saño and others presenting #WeStandWithYou at COP 19

People from around the world, including young activists in Warsaw are being heard and then ignored and shut out. While young activists are being shut out of the conference area, the International Coal conference also took place in Warsaw. Is this a joke? You are not the only one scratching your head at the irony. Greenpeace in their typical tactics unfurled a banner on Poland’s Ministry of Economy building where the coal conference was taking place. Not to mention their Cough for Coal lungs getting paraded around.

I could go on and on. There is a lot happening, but I wanted to address at least part of it. I am an optimist, but like many climate activists around the world, we are starting to get disgusted and fed up with the lack of action on the part of our representatives. Yes international and intergovernmental agreements are hard; we do not think they are not. But at this point, the lack of action and dedication to what they are supposedly there to do is simply disgusting. In the end, I know that we will persevere and find a way to address climate change and flourish, but my question is how much longer do we have to wait for our governments to catch up with the views of the people? How many more lives must be lost, how many more children must starve? How many more species mush be lost? How many more forests dried and burned, crops lost, communities destroyed?

If not us, then who? If not now, then when? If not here, then where?

August 10, 2013


Hello and welcome back!
On this gloriously sunny summer morning I would like to introduce, or revisit you to Mazatl. A Mexican resident, Mazatl is a print maker, illustrator and painter. How work is beautiful and charged with social, political and environmental justice themes. His work is unapologetic and unrelenting, with the goal of justice and a better future.

This is probably my favorite piece of his. Strong colors, strong composition, and strong message. Short, sweet, and to the point. Not afraid of getting right to the point and in your face. This is a possible scene from the not-too-distant future. Sad but true.
Justicia Climatica (Climate Justice)
Four color Silkscreen print
27" x 16"

But I also really like this series about extinction. For those of you who might not know, current day extinction rates, globally, are 10-100 and possibly as much as 1000 times the background extinction rate. To put this even more bluntly, Earth has experienced five mass extinctions, the last of which killed off the dinosaurs. Today's extinction rates could be an indicator that we are in the midst of the sixth great extinction.

Extincion 1
One color Relief Block Print
14" x 25"

Extincion 3
One color Relief Block Print
14" x 25"

The following is an interesting piece. Both social and environmental, it addresses the United Nations Programme for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries (REDD, . The program has been extremely controversial since the beginning. The basic idea is as follows: Forests have a huge Carbon storing and sequestering potential. When forests are cut down and destroyed, the stored Carbon is released into the atmosphere and contributes global warming through the intensification of the greenhouse effect. Many developing countries around the world use their forests as important revenue sources. The REDD program pays partner countries to maintain and protect their forests rather than cut them down. The idea is that if these countries can be compensated for maintaining their forest instead of cutting them down, it will minimize the global warming effects from destroying them

There are many good arguments both for and against the program, and personally I am still on the fence. It is extremely hard to make sure that the program is executed responsibly and correctly, but if it were it could have a lot of positive potential. There are a few aspects in particular that make the program particularly difficult to implement without unintended consequences. Here are just a few:
-Defining an appropriate deforestation baseline. How do you measure if deforestation is increading in a country if the amount deforested changes every year. Do you put your base line at last years rates? 10 years ago? 
-There is also the problem of the payments. Who benefits from the payments? Are the funneled through the central government, which could be a problem in politically corrupt countries? Do the payments trickle down to the locals, who most need the revenue from the forests? 
-Then there is the problem of actually monetarily valuing the forests. Paying for Carbon sequestration is new and there are still many kinks to iron out. The general idea is to pay for tons of Carbon sequestering potential/area measurement. But this leaves out many other values of the forest such as the ecosystem services it provides, climate change mitigation potential (i.e. Maintaining forests means maintaining more stable rain systems which are needed for crop production. Do you value future lives lost from drought and starvation in developing countries? etc)
-If that weren't challenging enough, there is the morality of putting a price on nature. There are some environmentalists and others who deeply believe that the environment is priceless and that it is simply an act of commodification to try to put a price on it. While others believe that since the forests are already receiving a price (lumber and other products) that we must work within the system of trade and commerce to even begin addressing the issue of deforestation and reducing Carbon emissions. 

The commodification of nature is the central, and obvious, issue addressed in NO REDD.  I agree that no amount of money can truly describe the value of forests, and that they are priceless. They are the lungs of the earth, supplying ecosystem services like clean water and clean air, they provide weather and water system regulation, they include habitats and ecosystems teaming with extremely valuable biodiversity, and they have a spiritual value for many that I will not try to describe here. While pricing forests are incredibly complex and possibly impossible, I believe there is value in trying. We are working in a broken system. Forests are being destroyed and their products sold on the market. If standing on the moral ground of how wrong it is to destroy the forests fails, as it appears is the case, is it truly a crime to try for a better system? Dropping REDD seems to me throwing away an attempt for good for lack of the perfect. The program is not perfect, and there are unintended consequences, but I believe that it is a step in the right direction. It is hard to play a game when the players are on different fields and speak different languages.  

Collaboration with Melanie Cervantes
22" x 34"

Here is one last piece by Mazatl. It is more social than environmental, as if these things could be separated. I love the call for collaboration, unification, and standing up for justice. Although not dead, the 99% movement receives much less press these days in the US than it did in the beginning. Despite the lack of press, there are still many throughout the world fighting for justice and a more fair system. 

One characteristic of Mazatl's work that I value most highly is his breadth. Almost across the bored social, political and environmental issues are inextricably linked. Far too often do I see and hear people and programs that try to address these issue separately, trying to fix the symptom rather than the root cause. 

June 17, 2013

Art and Biodiversity Partnership and Biodiversity Loss

"The Art and Biodiversity Partnership brings together artists, scientists, conservation experts, students and the public to raise awareness of the links between Art and Biodiversity. We want to encourage action through the arts and to widen awareness of the current biodiversity crisis, stimulating discussions and positive responses to this rising crisis. At the same time, we want to contribute in bridging the divide between art and science, looking at new paths of interdisciplinary cooperation." 

The Art and Biodiversity Partnership is based in Norfolk, England, on the east coast, north of London. Their collaborators are an interesting group, truly straddling the art and biodiversity line including: the Norfolk Wildlife Trust, the University of East Anglia School of Biological Sciences, the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, the Norfolk Biodiversity Partnership, and artists. 

They work on a themes of Invasive Alien Species, Climate Change, Habitat Loss, Over-exploitation, and Pollution, a well rounded, and generally agreed upon comprehensive list when thinking about threats to biodiversity. They also list a few projects that they address, such as a summer camp and a basketry exhibit. 

There isn't too much specific information about what they are working on and doing other than the four projects listed on their website. I am not sure if this is because they are a new organization or haven't updated their website in a while. With the sweeping topic of biodiversity loss, there is definitely no lack of inspiration. 

Despite the lack of more specifics, I love that this organization exists. We are in a biodiversity crisis and most people do not even know. There is so much information out there about this topic, but the short of it is that we are in a biodiversity crisis, it is driven by anthropogenic forces including climate change, and biodiversity loss is bad for the environment and bad for us too. But don't take my word for it: The United Nations Secratary General Ban Ki-moon: or or
And, just for clarification Biodiversity is the diversity of living things on the cellular, species, and ecosystem levels. 

IUCN 2010

I am personally involved in biodiversity loss in my own art, which started with my Global Amphibian Decline Series, but if anyone is looking for inspiration and/or an important issue to work on, here it is.

Convention on Biological Diversity:
IUCN, International Union for Conservation of Nature:
United Nations Decade of Biodiversity:
European Commission: Nature & Biodiversity:
Biodiversity is not a ranking issue with the United States Environmental Protection Agency.

June 6, 2013

June sixth, two thousand thirteen

"I am seeking, I am striving, I am in it with all my heart."
                                                --Vincent van Gogh

Don't ever give up on your dreams.
Don't doubt.
Do not let others' misconceptions become your own, taint your heart, or slow you down.

Be all that you are.
Be all that you wish to be.
For you can and you are.

Ariel Burgess

June 4, 2013

Roger Peet

"I'm an artist and a printmaker. My work tends to focus on the contemporary crisis of biodiversity and what can and can't be done about it. I'm a member of the Justseed Artists' Cooperative (, a group of North American artists producing socially and environmentally engaged artwork."
                  -- Roger Peet

Roger Peet has found an active artist who is involved with organizations like the Center for Biological Diversity and the Justseed Artists Cooperative and other projects. More than many other artists that I know, Peet's work is active and purposeful. Making direct commentary on the global biodiversity crisis and other environmental issues. 

This is an image he was commissioned to complete for the Center of Biological Diversity, a very cool commission!

Roger Peet
"I was recently commissioned by the Center for Biological Diversity ( to design a banner for their new Portland office. They gave me a list of endangered animals that they’ve worked to have listed federally as endangered, and I made them into this image. From left to right: Green Sturgeon, Fender’s Blue Butterfly, Marbled Murrelet, Orca, Wolf, Siskiyou Mountain Salamander, Spotted Owl, Taylor’s Checkerspot Butterfly, Streaked Horned Lark, Caribou, and Fisher."

These next two were also commissioned by the Center for Biological Diversity. These were designed for their Endangered Species Condoms. 

Roger Peet
The leatherback is the largest of all sea turtles, growing up to seven feet long. They are the last of an ancient line of turtles. Their numbers are declining rapidly wherever they occur, mostly as a result of human activity: they frequently mistake plastic bags for their favorite food, sea jellies, and die when their digestive systems clog with plastic. As a consequence of their decline (and that of other jelly predators) the oceans are filling with enormous jelly blooms.
Roger Peet
Polar Bear
This piece is dear to my heart, because it is about an issue that I have also worked on. It explores the critical connection between social and environmental issues. The ridiculous and unsuccessful war on drugs has been ruining lives from Colombia to the United States for decades. The ongoing violence and illicit cultivation and trade of the drugs is destroying habitat not only in Mexico, but also throughout Central American and the northern South America. Coca cultivation in Colombia is causing deforestation of the rainforest. The illegality of the cultivation of this traditional crop, forces its growers to go deeper and deeper into the forest, cutting down more and more trees and destroying habitat. The severity of this problem let to the Shared Responsibility initiative supported by the Colombian government.

Central America also suffers from habitat loss from the illegal drug trade. The drug cartels, seeking secrecy and security find refuge in the forests and do what they please to make successfully smuggle their product. Acres of forest are cut to make impromptu airstrips for transporting their drugs. 

Not only do I appreciate this piece for its content, it is a elegant and powerful image. Thank you Roger.   

Roger Peet

And then this one, which made me smile. I have been seeing a lot of buzz recently about the possibility of adding insects to our daily diet. Hmmm....

Roger Peet

June 2, 2013


The other day, I went to the Art Complex Museum in Duxbury, Massachusetts to see the New England Society of Botanical Artists exhibit. It was mostly what you might expect from a show with that title, but there were a number of very beautiful pieces from artists throughout New England. Here are just a few examples of my favorites:

Kate MscGillvary: Georgetown, Maine
Tremetes versicolor (Turkey Tail Mushroom), 2013
Watercolor on paper
Kay Kopper: Pembroke, Massachusetts
Vitis riparia (River Greap), 2012
Watercolor on paper

Lori Waremith: Dover, Massachusetts
Aquilegia canadensis (Eastern Red Columbine, Wild Columbine), 2013
Watercolor on paper

I love lichen and wish I knew more about it. The detail in this one is fabulous.
Jeanne Kunze: Billerica, Massachusetts
Physcia stellaris, Flavoparmelia baltimorensis, Lecanora strobilina, Usnea strigosa, Ramalina americana, Parmelia sulcata x10 (Six Lichens on Pear Twig - Star Rosetta Lichen, Rock Greenshield Lichen, Mealy Rim Lichen, Bushy Bear Lichen, Sinewed Ramalina Lichen, Hammered Shield Lichen), 2008
Watercolor on Yupo

This one was my favorite in the show.
Bobbi Angell: Marlboro, Vermont
Iris versicolor (Blue Flag), 2012
Copper etching (ink on paper)

Maria Bablyak: Woburn, Massachusetts
Celastrus sp (Bittersweet), 2012
Watercolor on paper

I appreciate the background and context in this piece. A nice variation in a show that was mainly single organisms on a white background. Not to say there is not a strong beauty in that simplicity, but as far as curating a show, the variation added to the experience.  

Susan Bull Riley: Montpelier, Vermont
Vaccinium vitis-idaea (& Junco) (Lingonberry), 2013
Watercolor on paper

This is done by my friend and colleague, Joan Pierce. She works for the Massachusetts Department of Fish & Game based out of the Buzzards Bay, Massachusetts office. This is where she hung my Climate Change is a Wood Frog Issue painting that she bought last month. 

Joan Pierce: Quincy Massachusetts
Pinus strobes (Eastern White Pine), 2012
Graphite, oil-based pencil on board

May 24, 2013

Mineo Mizuno

Yes, another flora/art combo!

This time I want to share the work of Mineo Mizuno. A native to Japan, Mizuno now lives and works in the United States spending most of his time, and showing his work, in New York and California. Mizuno works mostly in ceramics and metal sometimes for the gallery and sometimes for exterior installations. The simplicity and beauty of his work echoes the meditative quietude of a Zen garden. His most recent work, Coexistance, which evolved out of previous work such as his Waterdrop sculptures, are created out of clay and living moss. Their shape is simple, but their peaceful beauty and ever changing nature that comes from living organisms makes for a dynamic piece. This harmonious version of "coexistence" offers hope for other symbiotic relationships.

Mineo Mizuno

©Mineo Mizuno

©Mineo Mizuno

Installation of Coexistence sculptures
©Mineo Mizuno

Mineo Mizuno

April 17, 2013

Art Nouveau

In my opinion, second only to today, the Art Nouveau movement is the most fascinating and dynamic confluence of science and nature, and art. At the end of the nineteenth century, attitudes about the natural world lacked consensus. Nature stood for the decent of man with the new proof of human evolution from animals; it was seen as something to be conquered and displayed as a trophy; with the proliferation of images of far away and previously unseen ecosystems, it was glorified, and inspired awe and fascination in a new way; it was something to flatten and put into order, arranged in an orderly pattern by the artist.

The idea of evolution was not new in 1859 when Charles Darwin published The Origin of Species. The work’s proposal of natural selection based on a multitude of evidence from Darwin’s Beagle expedition was what finally convinced the masses to take the idea more seriously. This new understanding of the human connection with nature inspired many artists to work with the theme. The metaphor of metamorphosis was used again and again in many media addressing how humans are intricately linked to the animal and plant kingdoms. Possibly with less philosophy, many artists worked from expedition notes from far flung lands previously unseen to most Europeans.

Art Nouveau is a complex and fascinating period in art history, especially with respects to nature and our place in it. In this short blog I am only scratching the surface of this rich story, but I recommend to anyone interested in environmental art to explore more.
Alphonse Muncha
Czech, 1860-1939
Master the poster, a new medium due to the ease of reproduction with new technology. Beautiful woman coupled with nature, especially floral motifs were one of Muncha's favorite subjects. 

Ernst Haeckel
German 1834-1919
Haeckel made many illustrations like this one of various types of flora and fauna. Haeckel was not only an artist, but also a biologist and naturalist. He described and named thousands of new species. Many of the species and their diversity were new to the people of Europe. Imagine the impact of seeing the diversity of a coral reef for the first time. 

Ernst Haeckel

Eugene Grasset
Swiss, 1845-1917
Grasset is another of the poster art masters. Here she looks to tenderly and carefully at the flower.  It is clear to see the new interest in the study of nature.

Rene Lalique
French, 1860-1945
One of the most famous Art Nouveau jewelry pieces. Nature and metamorphosis were common themes in jewelry of the time, a medium that was also exploring new technologies and techniques.

Tiffany Studios (1878-1933)
A staple in Art Nouveau decorative art or craft style glass lamps and windows. The Studio was imagined and founded by Louis Comfort Tiffany an American (1848-1933). Tiffany started his artistic life as a painter, but it was his interest in glassmaking that inspired him to found the studio art take his art to Europe.

William Morris
English, 1834-1896
This is a section of Morris wallpaper. Most of his designs relied on curvaceous floral patterns.
Antoni Gaudi
Spanish, 1852-1926
This is the interior of the Chapel in Park Guell. Gaudi's architecture often referred to natural shapes, at times curvaceous  lines and others, as seen here, the interior of a cave. His magnum opus, the Sagrada Familia is, although a bit later, also a good example of this.
Antoni Gaudi
Sagrada Familia
Emile Galle
French, 1846-1904
Galle was a glass master, using new techniques and creating beautiful functional art, often with  a  natural motif.

Emile Galle
Galle, proving that he has talent in multiple mediums.