Nature is my happy place. I love the outdoors. I dream about being in the forest, hiking through the trees, lying down in a field full of wildflowers and tall grass, or walking through a shallow creek. My love for nature started when I was young, as long as I can remember. I was always outside playing with friends. We'd go to the park, play in the mud, swim in the creek, explore the woods — I loved getting filthy. The dirtier the better! I bet my Mom loved that. :)
When I was in my early teens, I attended Camp Ondessonk, a youth camp in the Shawnee National Forest. My best friend, Katie, asked me to go and thank God I went! More than 15 years later, it's the one place I hold close to my heart and can call "my happy place". When I close my eyes and picture my favorite place in the world, it's Camp. Truly God's creation — acres full of lush forest, natural waterfalls and swimming lakes, steep cliffs and dark caves. Not only was it a ton of fun, filled with friends and memories that will last a lifetime, the best part was being outdoors, living in nature for an entire week. Camp was not for the average outdoorsy person... it had no electricity (except the dining hall) and we slept in treehouses and caves, tons of gigantic bugs and lots of dirt! I am officially way too old to be a camper, but I have gone back as a volunteer and would jump at the chance to go again. I am so thankful I was able to go year after year and experience all of that Camp had to offer. I will always carry the memories with me!
As I was working on this small painting below, I started thinking about my love for nature and how it's shaped my life. It calms and relaxes me... makes me feel home. I picture myself in a golden field, letting the sun hit my face. Feeling free and unrestricted. It makes me think how nature is such a big part of me, maybe more than I realize... and I am passionate about it. It would be natural for my work to continue to go move in that direction. An underlying theme I never realized was there but already was present in my work?
All I have to do is close my eyes and think about my happy place.