Naturally Inspired

Indianapolis Zoo Naturally Inspired Paint Out

The Indianapolis Zoo puts on an annual fundraising event each year deemed the Naturally Inspired paint out. I was first selected for participation in 2006 and selected again in 2007 and 2008. This event is additionally what culminated my solo exhibit within the Schaefer Rotunda. The “Naturally Inspired” paint out is a full day of painting in and with nature.

Prior to attending, I typically go and scope out the entire zoo and gardens and see what actually sparks my interest. I learned after the first year to try to plan on a somewhat shaded area, depending on the weather and heat index. The first year I painted in the gardens and in 2007, I took up shop in the zoo.

Painting in the zoo is a completely different experience than painting in the gardens. There is much more foot traffic and I really enjoyed talking to the attendees. I even set-up a painting station for children to try out the watercolors. Funny enough, people would play almost a “Where’s Waldo” game and mark off on the map where the artists were and take pictures with all of us. It was quite humorous.

In 2008, I went back to the gardens. It was a rough year for the foliage, animals and botanicals. The drought and the heat were so intense that as soon as I put the paint down it dried. We had an eight-hour window to create our works of art; I believe I finished in four hours that day. The animals stayed inside due to the heat and the flowers were pretty well dried up. I painted a water lily again that year because it seemed to be the one sustainable botanical. Plein Air painting events are always a wonderful experience to sit one with nature. You have to go prepared, because sometimes nature has its own thought process.