I suppose I first fell in love with plants the day my step-dad took my 4-yr. old self out to see a redwood. I was amazed, and was fairly sure he’d crafted this wondrous thing himself.
Years passed, and we moved to Illinois. One day he took me to see Illinois Beach State Park. While we were there we saw a young woman with a clipboard. She moved carefully among the plants on the foredunes, placing flags and writing notes. Something stirred in my soul, and I was sure that one day I’d be doing the same thing. Then, as kids will, I forgot all about it. I went off to college to study pre-vet, on my way to veterinary school. Along the way I took an ecology class, and that course changed mine. That wonderful professor introduced us to prairies, and the art of prairie restoration. I was hooked. After graduation I settled with my new family in Peoria and immediately got involved with prairie restoration that was just getting under way there. My timing was perfect to get in practically in the beginning, and it was exciting. We’d cut away brush, and then the following spring stand in awe as myriad prairie plants leaped up in response to the light. They or their seeds had been lying dormant for as long as 50 years waiting for the non-native trees and shrubs that were suffocating them to be removed. This plant community needed fire to renew itself, and so we gave it fire.
Before too long, though, circumstances moved us up to Chicago-land. I’d become a butterfly monitor, and was assigned Illinois Beach State Park. Wow! What a gift that was. This was where I found my artistic voice, falling in love with the dunes and the tenacious plants that call them home.
I hope you have enjoyed this brief survey of my botanical paintings. To see more, and to purchase a painting, please visit my website at melissabluefineart.com