The story of Gena Goodman-Campbell's childhood adventures spent exploring the gullies of Oaks Bottom Preserve and dunes of Cannon Beach rooted her artistic sensibilities—and, this and next month, the visual exhibit of this Oregonian wanderlust is on display at Lone Pine Coffee Roasters. Her "Bird Nests of Oregon," which evokes the naturalist sketches of 19th century explorers and ecologists is, she says, "a culmination in an artistic evolution, a unique merging of naturalism and art."
Hued in the deep browns and soft greens of the high desert, the collection of nine drawings reveals Goodman-Campbell's love affair with the Central Oregon landscape. When she's not leading area hikes or lobbying the U.S. Congress on behalf of the environment for her day job as the Central Oregon Wilderness Coordinator at the Oregon Natural Desert Association, the artist still finds herself inspired by and immersed in nature.
"Nature is really my primary muse," she says. "I have always been drawn to plants, animals and organic shapes as subjects. I've found that inspiration is a truly renewable natural resource."
The landscapes and habitats that the conservationist works tirelessly to protect served as direct inspiration for "Bird Nests of Oregon." From Oregon's state bird (the Western meadowlark) to the singular and ostentatious harlequin duck, Goodman-Campbell's work is a stripped-away collection of drawings that are focused on the intricate beauty of the nest and the fragile eggs contained within.
"We often think of wilderness areas primarily as places to hike or camp, but these places also are where many animals make their homes," she says.
Looking at the richly detailed sketches, one assumes that their creator has spent untold hours immersed in the avian breeding grounds. But for Goodman-Campbell, it was important to make her study from nature guides and online resources rather than exploring the real thing—she's actually never laid eyes upon any of her subjects' dens in the wild.
"These drawings started as a way for me to explore my own curiosity without causing any harm to the birds I have become increasingly fascinated with," she says. "My work has made me more aware of the impacts we have on wildlife, even when we are trying our best not to."
Although her process could be considered methodical—scientific, even—Goodman-Campbell's work draws from the deep wellspring of her experiential knowledge of the Oregon landscape. "I hope to capture the incredible experience of seeing bird nests in the wild [and] inspire more people to fall in love with nature" she explained.
Of equal importance are the fragility and reverence the nest drawings instill in the viewer.
"I hope my drawings inspire my fellow nature lovers to look closer, pay attention, and be careful where you step! Give birds and other wildlife a lot of space, especially during breeding season," she advises.
"Bird Nests of Oregon." Lone Pine Coffee Roasters, March and April. A reception will be held 5 – 9 pm, Friday, April 3.