Inspiration & Inner Gardens - II

Now for the inspiration: What more do you need than the beauty and wonder of nature, in all its verdant, blossoming abundance, where every leaf boasts its own pattern, every branch its own journey, and every bloom its own palette? I am blessed to live in a place where the sky is intensely blue, and I can touch wildflowers and wilderness every day. I have often wondered about those who live in crowded cities, full of hot concrete, stifling air, stress, and infinite swaths of gray. Where is their inspiration? How often do they get to touch a flowering vine, wade into a stream, or sit in the shade of a willow tree?

About three years ago, this question led me to begin making large-scale botanical paintings that are colorful and dreamlike. My desire was to transport the viewer to another place - a tropical oasis, a lily pond, a rainforest - any natural setting that might help the viewer relax, escape, recharge, heal. Several clients told me it worked. By looking at their painting intently and quietly, they reported feeling serene, uplifted, unburdened, inspired. Some lived in urban areas where they valued this effect immensely.


Then, one day I looked at a painting hanging on the wall and thought: what if I could wear the painting or wrap myself in its inspiration like a blanket? Or carry it around with me, sharing my passion for nature with others? I believe nature - whether it is real or depicted in a piece of art - can transport us, not only physically, but mentally, to an interior space or "inner garden," where our truest self resides.

The Action: That’s when I began photographing details from my work and having them printed onto fabric. I know, this is not a completely original idea - pattern designers everywhere have been using nature as a source of inspiration for ages - but they don’t typically manufacture the end product, such as a piece of clothing. I liked the notion of someone literally wearing my art. Printing my art on beautiful, high quality fabric provided a comfortable middle ground between fine art that hangs in a gallery and mass-produced tea towels sporting roosters. (I apologize if I have offended any artists, tea-towel owners or rooster enthusiasts.)

You have an opportunity to act too: with a single purchase of $150 on my site, I will plant a tree on your behalf by partnering with the Arbor Day Foundation. Together, with many small steps and donations, we can do our part to reforest the planet. I believe that we, as female nurturing spirits, are destined to help protect our fragile environment. 


Products derived from painting, Lily Pond, by Melanie Birk, pictured top left.

La Fuente Reversible Wrap, left. Lily Scarf, right.

Please credit Melanie Birk, Blue Thistle Arts, when sharing images or blog passages. Thank you!