Odds & Ends

Projects, Plans, Ideas

The Wildflower Project

3 wildflowers in blue, yellow and lavender

We’re fortunate to live in a rural area of Southern California where, for a few glorious weeks a year, our open space becomes a giant meadow of wildflowers, green grasses and fat, happy birds.

In the past we’d eagerly walk all over to spot as many wildflowers as we could, referring to them only as “the small yellow ones” or the “purple, spiky ones.” They captivated us with their simple beauty, fleeting appearance, and their place in what is literally our backyard ecosystem.

This year we made a promise to learn their names; we took about a million photos, tripped over rocks, got sticky burrs in our socks and tracked dirt into the house. We pored over field guides and plant science websites, comparing our photos to theirs to figure out what we had and what we’d seen. We learned to separate by color, by petal count, leaf structure and the kind of dirt they liked to grow in. We were hooked, and happily sidetracked our normal design work to focus on our personal “wildflower project.” By the end we had found and identified about 30 different kinds.

In the process, it’s inspired us to create. We’re graphic artists, after all, driven to find the visual and reinterpret it, and the wildflowers briefly outside our door have electrified our creative side. What better material can artists have than the natural world?

More importantly, we learned something about it, too. Now we can look out over a chaparral landscape and point out the baby blue eyes, the goldfields, the purple owl’s clover and the elusive California peony. We know now how much the bees depend on the cranesbill, and how a single moth can make or break a giant yucca.

Maybe next spring we’ll spot some new wildflower to study or get better (in focus!) photos of the ones that got away this year. In the meantime, during the long months until then, we’ll figure out a way to reimagine our images, the colors and ideas into our artwork. Please stay tuned…

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