Nature iPad Explorations: Movement and Change

This week’s iPad explorations focused on free apps that can be used to explore movement and change in nature. Here are some of my favorite animation apps from this week of explorations:

One of my favorite animation apps that I’ve found would be iMotionHD. Not only is this a user friendly app (makes even elementary animation projects easy!), but it also has both time lapse and stop motion options. To see some lesson ideas, check out this animation challenge I did a little over a year ago. You can also check out my video art challenges for additional inspiration!

For more silly explorations, iFunFace and FMM give you the option of animating inanimate objects. For one lesson idea, I asked kids to take a picture of a tree and then use iFunFace to tell his/her story. Click here to see my example of this project.


For next week’s focus of the ipad explorations, I will shift my focus to exploration apps! So, I will be talking about apps that enhance explorations of the natural environment.

‘Till later…happy explorations!

Nature iPad Explorations: Recording Observations

During this second week of iPad explorations, I focused on the iPad as a tool for recording explorations and discoveries. Here are some of my favorite FREE apps from this week’s nature explorations:

Ink Flow

This was definitely one of my favorite apps for fomenting my questions and discoveries. I found that the pen control was much smoother than some other journal/sketchbook apps.


Adobe Ideas

This was another great journal/sketchbook app. Pen control wasn’t quite as smooth, but I did like the ability to add photos into my notes.


Shadow Pup

I saved the best for last! Shadow Pup is a great app for recording observations because it allows for voice explanations of pictures. I have used this app in my classroom as a way for students to talk about their work! Here’s a link to one of my recorded observations:

There are many other wonderful apps for recording–some of which I will mention in weeks to come! If you have come across a great go-to app for recording observations, I’d love to hear about it! For next week, I will focus on the iPads ability to explore movement and change in nature! I’ll include some fun animation apps in my explorations!

‘Til later…happy explorations!

Nature iPad Explorations: Color and Line

During my first week of the iPad nature art challenge, I discovered some wonderful apps to enhance explorations of color and line in nature. Here are a few of my favorites:

Color Vaccuum

True to its name, this is a great app to help explorers collect, and in the process discover, the wide array of colors in nature. If you’re wanting to create something, this isn’t that kind of app. However, your color discoveries can definitely inform future works of art. This app would be particularly useful in elementary art settings.



This popular social media app can be a great tool for nature photography explorations. This week, I used Instagram to document my explorations of fall colors.


Pic Stitch

This is the last app I’ll mention for this particular portion of the ipad challenge. Pic stitch is the perfect tool for collecting and comparing images from observations and explorations. Here are a few shots from my line and color explorations:




For the next week of ipad explorations, I will be focusing on iPads as a tool for recording observations. Cheers to another fantastic week of explorations!

iPad nature art challenge!

After over a year without my monthly nature art challenges, I’ve decided it’s high time to shake things up with a new challenge. This time I’d like to present a series of weekly challenges, all centering around the technology of iPads.

Since my school’s purchase of several classroom sets of iPads, I have become increasingly interested in their potential as an art medium and tool for nature exploration.

For the next four weeks, I will be posting my iPad art explorations, beginning with an exploration of line and color in the natural environment. For these explorations, I will limit myself to free apps only. As always, I invite you to join me on this new adventure–via iPad or smartphone!

Happy explorations!


Beauty in Life and Death

Today after finishing a nice, pre-sunset run, something caught my eye. The sun was hitting the leaves just right, causing them to glow as they shimmered on their branch.


As I continued to walk towards my house, I happened to notice a beautiful leaf on the ground. It had begun to develop beautiful spots dark spots–no longer part of its life source, yet still holding onto some of its color. It was breathtaking.


Walking through an alley way, I discovered the beauty of a leaf as it became one with the earth.


Nature in all stages offers such beauty. Take the time to enjoy it this week!

‘Til later…happy explorations!

Art of the Sea

Although I am a huge advocate for exploring your immediate environment–and establishing a connection to the world around you– there is something to be said for exploring new and vastly different environments. This summer I had the opportunity to explore the island of Kauai. This beautiful island offered such a wonderland of exploration opportunities! The north side of the island is so verdant, bursting with lush vegetation, waterfalls, beaches, and more! There were times I felt as though I were walking through a rainforest. The other side of the island offers just as much beauty, but in a slightly more dry climate. On this side of the island, I explored the incredible COLORS and sounds (roosters!) of Waimea Canyon–as well as the incredible red dirt found in this area (which is used as a powerful dye). For an artful exploration, I decided to paint with this red dirt. Here is the result of my painting, subject matter inspired by some of the woodblock prints I saw while on the island:

Island Sun

Another incredible artful exploration came from my visit to Sea Glass Beach. I must say I am quite jealous of my friends and fellow bloggers who have regular access to a beach! There are so many incredible treasures that wash up on the shore… As its name implies, Sea Glass Beach is known for the incredible sea glass that washes up on its shore! I spent quite a bit of time walking along the shore and exploring the variety of shapes, colors, and textures of the sea glass–nature’s incredible way of recycling. I am in awe of the beauty that can be created from our trash.

Sea Glass

After returning from my trip, I was intrigued to learn more about sea glass and the ways that artists have used it. For those of you unfamiliar with sea glass, it can be created both naturally and artificially. Naturally, sea glass begins as broken shards of glass. The pieces are then repeatedly tumbled and grounded until the sharp edges have been made smooth and rounded. This creates a natural frosted glass appearance. The artificial methods aren’t nearly as lovely–as is the case with practically anything manmade vs. natural, and involve either a rock tumbler or dipping glass in acid.

As for sea glass artists, there are some incredible artists out there, doing gorgeous things with sea glass. Here are a few that I particularly enjoyed:

Asta Sukiene makes beautiful wearable art, combining sea glass and crochet! Many of her pieces remind me of coral—very connected to the origin of sea glass 🙂

Evelyn Ward de Roo creates some incredible mixed media works, incorporating sea glass into many of her creations. Here’s one of my favorites!

Jonathan Fuller explores the spectrum of colors of sea glass in his sculptural creations.

Enjoy exploring these artists and their work! ‘Til later…happy explorations!

A Different Sort of Collecting…

As I continue to build my “nature art” collection this summer, I thought it was high time I posted about another wonderful nature-inspired artist—and one that is a fellow collector, might I add!

Instead of placing his collected items into a container or displaying them on a shelf, he combines/assembles/collages his found objects to create reveal new meanings and enhance our perception of their value and significance. His website explains, “His love of objects and materials is grounded in their alchemical charm, and their banality is valued and challenged as much as their meaning.”


His most recent work “combines found objects from his local coast, with a summary text that gives a potential identity and history to the collated flotsam and jetsam. These discarded items, wave worn and sun bleached are arranged sometimes by colour and sometimes by other specific taxonomies, thus using the new works again to reveal in subtle ways through the use of text, content and aesthetics, that truth, history and information are questionable and relative to our perception and use of it.” To read more about Steve McPherson’s art, click here

In other news, I have been hard at work in my art studio, producing, exhibiting, and selling some of my mixed media work. Although my mixed media work isn’t as nature-inspired as some of my projects for this blog, it is a reflection of my thoughts, observations, and experiences in the natural world. To see some of my newest work–and to keep up with my art studio happenings, please visit my artist facebook page

To give you an example, here’s one of the newest pieces I’ve been working on:

Star Gazing

In other news, I found out that one of my works is going to be published in Agave online magazine! If you’re interested in reading the magazine and seeing my work, please click here to subscribe for free!

That’s all for now! ‘Til later…happy explorations!

The Art of Peach-Picking!

I recently had the opportunity to visit my sister in the beautiful green state of South Carolina. As part of the visit, we decided to go peach-picking. Familiar with the typical grocery store peaches (no larger than a fist), I was surprised to find peaches twice that size–and twice as sweet and juicy! Unfortunately our peach-picking was cut short as a storm quickly rolled in. As we were walking through the orchard, heading back towards the car, I began to take in my surroundings. Since I had spent much of my time glancing upward towards the trees, I decided to direct my attention towards the overlooked vegetation and happenings on the ground.

That is when I found my next collectible…half of a peach pit. Not only was it visually stunning, but it also provided some interesting textural varieties. While the outside of the pit was rough, the center was incredibly smooth–definitely a worthy member of my summer nature art collection!


‘Til later…happy collecting! 🙂

The First Collectibles!

Not wanting to waste any time after a great end of the school year, I headed out to the woods for a wonderful week of backpacking! Nothing recharges my batteries and clears my mind like spending some time in nature—taking in the fresh air, sights, and sounds around me! All the while, I had my summer’s art collection in my mind. Although I wasn’t exactly sure of what I was looking for, I knew the first piece of my collection would find me at the right moment.

I was right.

During the first night at our campsite, as we were walking around a nearby meadow, my husband picked up a triangular speckled rock (not pictured here) and handed it to me with nothing but a “here” for explanation. Although it was simple, the act of selecting that rock from all of the other rocks out there and then handing it to me gave that little rock an extra layer of meaning–beyond the interesting textures, layers, and patterns in its surface. I kept that rock in my pocket for the rest of the trip, deciding that one of the focuses of my collection would be the stories and layers of meaning contained within small, simple objects.

The second object for my collection was found while on a day hike in search of elk. For days, we had seen sign of elk, but had yet to actually see them. So, during our last full day, we decided to follow the elk trails and see where they would lead us. Although the only elk I saw were small dots on the top of a mountain, the trails that we followed led to a series of beautiful meadows and springs–a paradise few have the opportunity to see! While I was exploring, I stumbled across a very interesting piece of wood. I was actually initially drawn to it because it reminded me of a rhinoceros horn. Upon closer look, I was in awe at the incredible swirls and marks on every surface. As I turned it over in my hands, I found that I was mesmerized by the way the patterns and views changed.




Having found the first two pieces for my collection, I am very excited to find more works of “nature art!” Since I wasn’t able to post about it earlier, I have also designated a small shelf to be the location for my art collection. Each piece that I find for my collection needs to be no larger than my hand (preferably smaller) in order to fit on the shelf. I also found a small plastic container to hold my “story objects,” such as the triangular rock.

I will be heading on another summer adventure at the end of the week, so will post again as my collection continues to develop.

‘Til later…happy explorations!

The Art of Collecting!

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about collections and the act of collecting. What is it that drives someone to collect one particular type of object (horse figurines, stamps, books, teddy bears, baseball cards)? Why are some things more “collection-worthy” than others? Does collecting something somehow give it more significance–more value?

Last weekend I had the opportunity to spend a few days at my husband’s side of the family’s beautiful cabin. Surrounded by trees, mountains, and gorgeous wildflowers, I enjoyed one, if not two or three Wonder Walks every day. On my last day, for reasons unknown to me, I began to notice tiny treasures hidden amidst the dirt, tree trunks, and plants. It began with the discovery of a rock. It was a very small piece of quartz with one smooth side and one bumpy, irregular side. After studying it for some time, I continued my walk, alternating between rubbing the smooth and bumpy side. This discovery soon led to many more–culminating in the discovery of a small bark rabbit! Please excuse the quality of the photo below… I wish I could capture this incredible natural sculpture–complete with two separate floppy ears!

Bark Rabbit

So, since returning from my fun “nature art” hunt, I have been thinking about collecting…and what that means for artful explorations in nature. Though we have collected natural materials for nature art challenges (Nature Mosaic Challenge), we have not explored the act of collecting as a form of art making in-and-of-itself.

So, for the summer, I plan to build a collection of “nature art.” Each week or so, I will post an idea to inspire a new addition to the collection. As always, I welcome any fellow explorers!

Tomorrow I will post more specific “nature art” collection details. In the meantime, start thinking about what type of collection you’d like to have. Are you wanting to collect certain shapes/textures/materials? How might this “collection” relate to you?

Cheers to summer artful explorations! 🙂