"Lay Down in the Tall Grass"

by Lisa Vanin

Lay Down in the Tall Grass” is a piece inspired by a river that my husband and I canoe in the fall. We head out before the sun comes up and set up a camp at the swampy edge of the river for breakfast. As the sun rises we always see many animals: river otters, beavers, muskrats, ermines, and the migrating waterfowl. I take photos of the scenery and sketch whatever ideas come to my mind. By the end of one of our trips, I came up with the idea to paint this sort of swamp princess protecting a pair of wood ducks. She really captures the calmness and wildness of that area with a certain grace. Once I have a concept figured out, I often go back to my photos for reference. More recently I also┬ávisit the biodiversity archives of the Royal Ontario Museum, where I study their specimens to enrich my work. When I am feeling in a creative slump, I try to get outside as much as possible to be near the creatures and places that inspire me. When I don’t have that immediate option, I find nature in one of the reference books I keep in my studio.

I am a freelance illustrator and fine artist who is greatly inspired and calmed by my time spent engaged in the natural world. My work is a reflection of my fascination with nature and my own emotional experiences. When I am not working on illustration commissions, I am creating personal paintings. I create primarily as a painter, using acrylic on cotton paper, but I also create pieces using printmaking, sculpture, pen and ink, and other mediums. An immense amount of my free time is spent not only producing art, but researching plants, animals, natural history, biology, and biodiversity. I do this through reading, meeting with scientists, viewing lectures, and my own personal field trips in the beautiful wilderness here in Ontario.

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