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‘Blurring the lines’ between art and nature at Circle Creek



Dorota Haber-Lehigh

Sun-swept grasses beneath clear blue skies at Circle Creek Habitat Reserve provided ideal conditions June 7 for participants in a Nature Journaling Workshop under the skilled guidance of local educator, artist and forager Dorota Haber-Lehigh. The workshop was the brainchild of volunteers from the Cannon Beach Arts Association.

art1CBAA Treasurer Carolyn Propst and I were seeking to provide activities for artists submitting work to a juried exhibit at the Cannon Beach Gallery. Artists from both the local area and surrounding region come to Cannon Beach to submit works for consideration in the show, curated by the CBAA Gallery Committee and entitled “Terra Nova.” Participating artists were asked to “blur the lines and depart from conventional interpretations of the landscape.” As a volunteer for both CBAA and North Coast Land Conservancy, Carolyn reached out to NCLC Director Katie Voelke, who was enthusiastic about the prospect of bringing artists to the land to engage in the creative process while getting inspiration from the source that keeps on giving—precious planet Earth.


Linda Brunner

Conditions could not have been more optimal on the date of the event. The days prior were foggy and misty, but Sunday morning brought lots of sun and a gentle whooshing breeze through the plant life at the Reserve. Participants from as near as Seaside and as far as Florida gathered around as Katie shared information about the Circle Creek property and its role in the local ecosystem as a floodplain.


Carolyn Propst

Dorota and Katie led the group of twelve on a short hike through the loop trail in the forest at Circle Creek, leading back around to a gathering spot beneath a large Sitka spruce, where Dorota shared drawings from her own nature journal. Her exquisite renderings of various botanical specimens were interspersed with information she gathers about the plants and trees she encounters on her many hikes along the Oregon Coast, all arranged in the book by the month in which she saw them. Dorota also shared drawings she completed on a spring vacation to Florida, where the colors and ecosystems are very different from those found here in Oregon.

Dorota provided a demonstration of drawing basic shapes in nature—cylinders for trees.  She encouraged students to examine the angles or directional lines that they observed and capture the basic essence of the specimens rather than starting with a detailed drawing. She demonstrated shading, with a discussion of value in color from dark to light as well as methods for creating texture. Students then dispersed into various areas, either along the trail or under the shade of the spruce, to practice their own drawings of their observations. Dorota was on hand to answer questions and provide guidance and feedback when needed.


Linda Christensen

The combination of great weather, enthusiastic learners, and a skilled teacher resulted in a wonderful event for all involved. Stay tuned for future opportunities to draw on the land, creating art on NCLC habitat reserves. Be sure to check out the Terra Nova exhibit on display through June 28 at the Cannon Beach Gallery, located in midtown at 1064 S. Hemlock in Cannon Beach.      —Mary Bess Gloria, Chairperson, CBAA




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