Embracing Art

I wrote this article for the Audubon’s weekly column:


Embracing Art
by Jennifer Schlick

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Anything can be a “canvas” for nature tangles – even painted rocks.


I don’t remember the incident, but the story continues to be told about the day I came home “sick” from the first grade. My mom says she gave me a bath and got me settled on the couch – where all sick children wait for health to return. Eventually she got me to admit that I wasn’t sick at all. Apparently my class was making a farm mural. Each child was assigned something to add to the scene. I had been asked to draw a rooster and, well, I didn’t know how. My first traumatic art moment.

The following year, on one of those warm, wonderful, almost-summer days, the art teacher, thinking she was doing us all a big favor, took our class outside to sketch in nature. I remember this one and it still gives me a knotted stomach. I spent half the class trying to decide WHAT to draw, and the rest of the time trying and erasing until there was a hole in my paper. By this time, age 7, I had decided that I couldn’t draw and that art was not for me.

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The leaves on the left were part of the inspiration for my first ever “Nature Tangle.”

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At one of our Secret Gardens Tours, I found this birdhouse decorated with Nature Tangles!

In my late thirties, in an attempt to face my fear of art, I signed up for a drawing class.  After introductions (and true confessions), my wonderful instructor said something that completely changed my outlook. “Drawing is a learned skill. It’s not that you CAN’T draw. You have never been taught. You have never learned to draw.” How liberating! I still “can’t” draw, but now I know it is not because there is an innate deficiency in my character, rather simply because I haven’t practiced drawing. Now, when I see opportunities to make art in community with others just for fun, I often take advantage. Such was the case a few years ago when at the Allegany Nature Pilgrimage I saw a listing for something called “Nature Tangles.” After a quick overview of this easy-as-doodling technique and looking at some samples, we took a walk outside looking for the patterns and lines and textures that might inspire our own creations. And once inside, transferring that inspiration to paper, we were all in the zone – uninterruptable, absorbed. When the announcement came that class was over, we were shocked; the time had flown by!

My drawing was no masterpiece, but it was good enough to display in my office! And the process was absolutely meditative.

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One of Sarah’s wonderful fairy creatures – Boy Fairy

The Nature Center is pleased to offer you the opportunity to experience Nature Tangles (and overcome your fear of art?). On Saturday, August 15, 2015 from 1:00pm until 3:00pm, fine arts teacher Sue Yauchzy will lead us through a process not unlike the one I experienced at Allegany. She and I have had fun going through the art catalogs to purchase sketchbooks, pencils, markers, and erasers – all of which will be yours to keep after class so you can keep on doodling!

If three-dimensional art is more your cup of tea, you might consider joining Sarah Hatfield to learn some of her techniques for making imaginative creatures. On Saturday, August 22, 2015 from 10:00am until 12:00pm, you can turn pine cones, acorns and their “caps,” dried flowers, twigs, and bark, into fairies, birds, squirrels, or dragons. These whimsical creatures sit nicely on window sills and fireplace mantels, or tuck neatly into spots in your garden where they can stand guard over your flowers. I know there’s at least one of you out there who wants to learn how because you wrote it on the evaluation form after the Woodcock Whirl, where Sarah’s creations graced the tables.

Girl Fairy

Another of Sarah’s creations: Girl Fairy

The Audubon Nature Center is located at 1600 Riverside Road in the town of Kiantone, one-quarter mile east of Route 62 between Jamestown, New York and Warren, Pennsylvania. Learn more about the center and its many programs for adults and children by visiting http://JamestownAudubon.org or calling (716) 569-2345.

Jennifer Schlick is program director at the Nature Center.

Chautauqua Gorge…

… it’s just so beautiful.

I said to my sister, “I sort of want to take my camera out, but I have so many pictures of this place already.”

I couldn’t resist.

First I practiced with slow shutter speeds on a water fall:

IMG_5359 little waterfall slow shutter

Then I just had to capture this 1970s color palette!

IMG_5370 mini waterfall from above

Akeley Swamp: (Butterflies and) Wildflowers!

Our first attempt to see butterflies at Akeley Swamp was a washout.  We kinda knew it would be, which is why we didn’t bother with cameras.  But the wildflowers were riotous and the potential was great, so we planned to return in a couple of days when the forecast was more promising.

My car thermometer read 47 degrees and the valley was full of mist.  I got there an hour before the other two.  I took a leisurely stroll up the trail and I photographed lots of flowers without the distraction of contrast-y sunshine.

More true confessions:  I don’t hike much in summer because I don’t tolerate the heat well and the bugs absolutely love me.  So, some of the flowers along this trail were strangers to me!  I was delighted by the cool temperatures and the opportunity to learn them.

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Wild Phlox

In spring, I have to tell folks all the time that Dame’s Rocket is not Wild Phlox. I explain that Dame’s Rocket is a 4-petaled flower and Phlox has five petals… But until visiting Akeley in summer, I hadn’t ever seen Phlox – at least not that I remember.

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Wild Phlox

Some of the plants had sparser blooms. I’m still not sure if they are a different variety, or just a younger, less robust plant.  It seems this variety had white blooms, while the other plants had pink.

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This St John’s Wort was familiar to me. I see it all over the place, along roadsides, in fields.  I know several other varieties, too, but didn’t find them at Akeley.  But this one:

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St John’s Wort

This taller, bolder St John’s Wort was completely new to me!

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Alfalfa

I puzzled for quite some time trying to figure this one out. Leaves kind of like clover. Blossoms like peas. Turns out, it’s alfalfa.  Thanks to Kathleen for helping with that ID.

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Mystery Flower

I still don’t know what this one is. If you know, please tell me!
UPDATE:  Duh!  The Mystery Flower is Purple Loosestrife… I just didn’t recognize it with so few blossoms open.  Thanks to the folks on Flickr in the ID Please group for helping me out.  (https://www.flickr.com/photos/jenniferschlick/19572581449/)

There were also plenty of old friends:

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Tall Meadow Rue

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Common Milkweed

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Swamp Milkweed

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Queen Anne’s Lace (aka Wild Carrot)

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Purple Loosestrife

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Elderberry

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Cardinal Flower

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Chicory

My friends, Barbara Ann the Monarch Mama, and Jeff Zablow of wingedbeauty.com joined me as the fog was burning off and the insects were coming out. Of course, insects, unlike wildflowers, aren’t likely to sit still long enough for me to photograph… But I did get a couple:

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Ebony Jewelwing (a damselfly, not a butterfly!)

I saw three or four species of butterflies. (Jeff saw many more – but then – he’s experienced!) This is the only one that posed long enough for me to get the camera set up and shoot:

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Viceroy

Many thanks to friends who lure me away from desk to go exploring nature!

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Jeff Zablow: scouting butterflies

Jeff will be the First Friday Lunch Bunch speaker at Jamestown Audubon in June 2016! He promises to take us on a Butterfly Walk after his indoor presentation.

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Barb: the Monarch Mama

Akeley Swamp is a part of the Pennsylvania State Game lands. Be careful and wear blaze orange if you hike there during hunting season. It is also designated by Audubon Pennsylvania as an official IBA (Important Bird Area) because it is a stop over for water-loving birds during migration.

Learn more:

Map:

Coming Soon: Audubon Days at Panama Rocks!

I recently wrote this article for our local papers:

Coming Soon: Audubon Days at Panama Rocks
by Jennifer Schlick

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Enjoying the Rocks (sans Lolli) on Mother’s Day.

OK, I’ll be honest: I don’t often go hiking places where I can’t take my dog. That’s why Panama Rocks fell off my radar. And then for Christmas, I received a season pass. So, on Mother’s Day, Lolli the Pup stayed home and I went with my husband and daughters to a place I hadn’t experienced in years. We picnicked first, then headed out to explore the trails, scavenger hunt clues in hand. We scrambled up to get closer views of some of the formations. We rested for a bit on a nice outcropping and set the camera timer to get a great family photo. We cooled off at the Ice Crevice where there was still snow! We read all the signs, and figured out all the clues – and yes! We found the treasure! We had such a great time I’ve been back twice since. Poor Lolli.

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Stay on the trail, or choose a more challenging path.

If you haven’t been in a while (or ever?), I encourage you to join the Audubon Nature Center staff and volunteers at Panama Rocks on Saturday or Sunday, August 1 and 2, 2015.

The trails are rugged, but not too difficult. Or, you can MAKE it difficult by scrambling up the rock faces, or squeezing yourself through narrow passages, the most famous of which appears on the map as Fat Man’s Misery.

The park has been privately owned and in operation since 1885. The current owners, Craig & Sandi Weston, purchased the park in 1979 and have been working to restore historic buildings and protect the natural beauty for the thousands of visitors that explore from May through October. During one of my visits, a conversation with Craig & Sandi’s son Jonathan about partnerships led to this grand experiment – a collaboration between Panama Rocks and Audubon Nature Center.

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Experts will be on hand to teach about the geology and trees found in the scenic area.

August 1 and 2, 2015 have been dubbed Audubon Days at Panama Rocks. Nature Center staff and volunteers will be available at the Rocks to answer your questions about nature, programs at the Nature Center, and more. In addition, there will be activities for children, guided nature walks, and maybe even a few of our education animals. Folks who join or renew their membership in the Audubon Friends of the Nature Center group will get 14 months for the price of 12. There will also be a drawing for a free one-year membership.

I’m especially looking forward to the geology and forestry walks that will be led by Tom Erlandson and Dan Anderson. Both are retired instructors from Jamestown Community College and both have a wealth of knowledge to share. At 10:30am, you may choose either Geology or Trees. The walks will repeat in the afternoon as follows: On Saturday, Geology is 1:30pm and Trees is at 3:30pm; on Sunday, Trees is at 1:30pm and Geology is at 3:30pm.

Dave Moller and Gary Cuckler

The duo “Steel Rails” (Dave Moller & Gary Cuckler) will play on Saturday from 2:00 until 4:00pm. Maybe longer!

Saturday visitors will enjoy music by Gary Cuckler and Dave Moller from about 2:00pm until 4:00pm. Sunday visitors will be serenaded by Bill Moran. We’re working on a few other surprises… but not everything was in place when this article went to print!

Panama Rocks is open daily from 10:00am until 5:00pm during the spring, summer, and fall. Every day, including during Audubon Days, regular Panama Rocks admissions will be in effect: general admission is $7.50, children ages 6-12 are $5, children ages 5 and under free. Panama Rocks is generously donating a portion of each admission to the Nature Center on Audubon Days, so your fee will be helping TWO nature organizations at the same time!

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Test your puzzle-solving skills and see if you can find the hidden treasure.

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Signs along the trail teach about human and natural history.

We are hoping to make this the biggest attendance weekend of the summer for Panama Rocks. And since word of mouth is always the best advertising, won’t you help us spread the word? Tell your friends – in person, preferably, or if you are on Facebook, join the event at https://www.facebook.com/events/ 692951320836189/, then invite your friends to go with you. Bring a picnic, blanket, lawn games. Perhaps you know people who are coming to Jamestown for the Lucille Ball Comedy Festival. Maybe they would like to spend a morning or afternoon exploring nature before heading downtown.To minimize the impact on the scenic area, please plan to picnic on the upper grounds where picnic tables, trash cans and recycle bins are available. Folks are asked not to take food or beverages into the scenic area – only reusable water bottles are permitted.

Panama Rocks is located at 11 Rock Hill Road, Panama, New York. Learn more about the park at their website, http://www.panamarocks.com/. The Audubon Nature Center is located at 1600 Riverside Road, Jamestown, New York, one-quarter mile east of Route 62 between Jamestown, New York and Warren, Pennsylvania. Learn more about the Nature Center at http://jamestownaudubon.org.

Many thanks to Jonathan & Holly Weston for starting the conversation.

Click here for more pictures.

Jennifer Schlick is program director at the Nature Center.

26 hour vacation

I got to visit one of my favorite places in the world yesterday and today.  I tramped around in the mud finding and losing and finding secret places.  I sat on the porch in the morning and watched and listened to the birds (including Indigo Bunting, Scarlet Tanager, and Yellow Warbler, just to mention the most colorful).

In the evening, I tried photographing the fireflies.  I hope to try again before the season is over…

Fireflies

Ridiculously Excited

This article appeared on the Nature Center blog and in local papers:

Photography Intensive
by Jennifer Schlick

I am ridiculously excited by the lineup of instructors for the Nature Center’s June 20, 2015 Photography Intensive!  The talent and experience of the instructors is top-notch.  This is a real opportunity to rub elbows with many fine photographers and to learn first-hand their tricks of the trade.  Participants will have three or four choices in each of four 1-hour time slots.  The hard part will be deciding which workshops to sign up for!

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This photograph of a Great Spangled Fritillary by Twan Leenders is an example of the high key portrait style used in the Meet Your Neighbours project – photography for conservation.

The day will start with registration and orientation at 9:00am.  There are workshops at 9:30am, 10:45am, 12:30pm, and 1:45pm.  We’ll finish the day with evaluations from 2:45pm-3:00pm, and this is important because your feedback will help determine the topics for an upcoming summer series of Photography Workshops.

But let’s focus on June 20th.  A summary is included below, but full descriptions of the courses and biographies of the instructors can be found at our programs website:  https://jasprograms.wordpress.com/jun/photography-workshop-june-20/, which also has a link to an online registration form.  You’ll need to decide which workshops you want to take before you sign up.

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In Kathleen Tenpas’ workshop, you will expose treated paper and fabric to the sun to create cyanotype prints.

At 9:30am, participants will choose from Fun with Macros with Sandra Rothenberg, Comparing and Using Photo Editing Software with Michael Weishan, or Looking Good – Ideas for Composition with Gary Lester.

Sandra Rothenberg is a nature photographer who grew up in northwest Pennsylvania.  Her photographs of birds, bats, and other wildlife, as well as flowers and landscapes have been shown in galleries, and can be found in private homes and businesses.

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Catherine Panebianco’s “Sea Cruise” is an example of the creative treatments you might learn in the iPhone-o-graphy workshop.

Michael Weishan hales from Cattaraugus County, New York where he teaches for the Arts Council.  His work has been exhibited in several galleries throughout the region.

Gary Lester originally picked up photography as a hobby, but eventually put his skills to work in advertising, journalism, and as a portrait and wedding photographer.

At 10:45am, choose from Meet Your Neighbours – Photography for Conservation with Twan Leenders, Pet Portraits with Personality with Cathy Panebianco, SLR Manual Mode Crash Course with Bruce Fox and Deb Lanni (this one is full), or Sun Pictures with Kathleen Tenpas.

Dramatic Sky w Birds

“Two Birds” is a composite created in Photoshop using four different images – sky, two birds, and a texture layer from a photograph of the surface of the lake. Learn to make composites with Kimberly Turner.

Twan Leenders, a biologist from the Netherlands, now heads the Roger Tory Peterson Institute of Natural History.  Meet Your Neighbors is an international project that seeks to draw attention to our often overlooked natural neighbors using a particular style of photography known as high key portraits.

Cathy Panebianco’s pet photographs grace the walls of her clients, and are used by the Human Society to help place pets in homes.  Her fine art photography, much of made with her iPhone, has been exhibited nationally and appeared in books and magazines.

Bruce Fox, photography and graphics coordinator in the Instructional Resources Department at Buffalo State College, and Deborah Lanni, recently retired from her position at Jamestown Community College as the media arts program coordinator, live in Stockton, New York.  They are co-leading a workshop at 10:45, and each offering another workshop later in the day.

Jeremy Martin at Work

Jeremy Martin is pictured her photographing a dragonfly that has just emerged. Learn more about photographing insects in Jeremy’s workshop.

Kathleen Tenpas of Clymer, New York, received her first camera at the age of eight.  She studied darkroom techniques before moving into the digital world.

The 12:30pm lineup will repeat Kathleen’s Sun Pictures workshop and also include Black & White Conversions with Jeremy Martin, Improving Landscapes with HDR with Deb Lanni, and Gear Geeks! with Bruce Fox.

Jeremy Martin is a nature photographer from Allegany County, New York whose work has appeared in several publications, including Northern Woodlands magazine and the New Yorik State Conservationist magazine.  His photo of the bog flower Rose Pogonia appears on a Canadian postage stamp.

Fern, Warren, PA, Sandra Rothenberg, wild

Sandra Rothenberg will show you how she gets close-up photographs like this fern, just starting to unfurl.

The 1:45pm time slot will include Creating Composite Images Using Photoshop with Kimberly Turner, iPhone-o-graphy with Cathy Panebianco, and Insect Photography with Jeremy Martin.

Kimberly Turner comes to us with a BFA in photography and illustration and an MFA with a concentration in photography.  She has taught photography at Indiana University, Northern Illinois University, and Michigan State University.

We’ve kept the schedule loose with 15 minute breaks between workshops and a 45-minute lunch break to give you time to network with the instructors and with fellow particpants.

The cost for the whole day is only $66, or $50 if you are a member of the Friends of the Nature Center.  Pre-registration with payment is required by Tuesday, June 16, 2015 and you can register by phone at (716) 569‑2345, in person, or online.  Be prepared to tell us which workshops you want to attend.  Participants should dress for the weather and bring their own lunches.  Beverages and light snacks will be provided.

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It can be hard to get images like this straight out of your camera. Let Michael Weishan show you some editing software that can improve your photographs.

The Nature Center is located at 1600 Riverside Road, one-quarter mile east of Route 62 between Jamestown, New York and Warren, Pennsylvania.  Learn more by visiting http://jamestownaudubon.org and direct questions to (716) 569‑2345.

Jennifer Schlick is program director at the Nature Center.

Click HERE for more detailed information about the June 20th workshops.

Click HERE if you are ready to register!

Jakes Rocks

It was my turn to write for the newspaper this week.

Mini-Adventure at Jakes Rocks
by Jennifer Schlick

One of my friends is on a cross-country adventure with her daughter. I’m enjoying her regular posts of photos and quick snippets of story line. Ice on her tent, but a beautiful view. Fishing for trout. Dinner with her son who lives out west. Tromping through flood waters to get to the art museum.

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Mountain Laurel

Seeing all her pictures and reading all her updates gave me a hankering to experience something new, something different. Now, I could have allowed myself to sink into a pool of self-pity about how I don’t have the time right now for a grand adventure. But instead, my brain jumped to the rescue and reminded me that I have never seen the Mountain Laurel in bloom… And, isn’t this about the time they should be blooming?

So into the car and off to Jakes Rocks Overlook! (Thank you, brain, for remembering that Jakes Rocks features, as the Forest Service website confirms, “a short hiking loop through Mountain Laurel.”)

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Pinxter Azalea

Mountain Laurel is the official flower of Pennsylvania. At Jakes Rocks it grows as an understory shrub, but in other locales, it can grow quite tall into something more like a small tree. Depending on where you live and what the weather has been like, the blooms may appear in late May through the first part of June. I was at the Rocks on Sunday, June 7. Most of the shrubs still had tight little buds – but a few had opened.

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Wintergreen

I don’t see Mountain Laurel along the trails I usually hike. There is so much of it at Jakes Rocks that I had the feeling of being on a far-flung adventure, even though I was only an hour’s car ride from home.  In addition to the Pennsylvania state flower, I delighted in learning two new shrubs, Pinxter Azalea and Mountain Winterberry, both of which were blooming near the overlook. Along the trail there were plenty of Striped Maples – also known as Goosefoot Maple for the shape of the leaves, and as Moosewood – because moose eat it, I assume. The aromatic Sassafras was also plentiful. A pine tree with deeply furrowed bark and needles in twisted bundles of three had me perplexed… could it be Pitch Pine? On the ground I saw Wintergreen (and I resisted the urge to munch on one of the plump red berries), Low Bush Blueberries that looked like they had already bloomed, and Sarsaparilla with flowers. Along the roads white blossoms gave away the location of future blackberries.

IMG_4706 Kinzua Reservoir from Jake's Rocks

Kinzua Reservoir from Jakes Rocks

There are spectacular views of the Kinzua Reservoir both from the hiking loop and from the road. I’ve been there many times before, usually with energetic children who love climbing the gigantic rocks and taking the lower trail which goes “under” the rocks, which I didn’t take advantage of during this whirlwind mini-adventure. Seeing the Mountain Laurel was all I wanted and it was worth the drive. I recommend you go this weekend! There are picnic tables and restrooms – so take your lunch and plan to spend the day. If you have time, you might consider also stopping in at the Kinzua Dam visitor center, Bent Run Waterfall area, and Rimrock! Make a full day of it!

I still don’t know where the name “Jakes Rocks” came from. I mean, the “Rocks” part is obvious. At first I thought the rocks belonged to Jake. But if that were true, there’d be an apostrophe before the s. Hmm… If you know, drop me a line!

Jamestown Audubon Nature Center is located at 1600 Riverside Road in the town of Kiantone, one quarter mile east of Route 62 between Jamestown, New York and Warren Pennsylvania. Learn more about the Center by calling (716) 569‑2345 or visiting http://jamestownaudubon.org. The Allegheny National Forest website describes Jakes Rocks here: http://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/allegheny/recreation/recarea/?recid=6092&actid=54.