Nature's Classroom - GIVEAWAY!

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Nature's Classroom
© Laure Ferlita, All Rights Reserved
9 x 12 inches
watercolor, acrylic, ink, gouache, and graphite
Please click to enlarge
Three or four years ago, I got an idea to paint old "specimen cards" that looked like they came out of a kid's science kit. You may remember them—they had a few slides, a small, low-powered microscope, and a manual about how to find "specimens."

I decided to start with a Google search of specimen cards. I came up with a lot of interesting hits, but nothing like I had in my imagination. I set about drawing out my idea and combined it with a paintbrush. The brush seemed more appropriate as much of my learning has been acquired at the tip of a paintbrush.

After the cards were drawn and painted, I decided to add some of the items from my personal "nature collection." Over the years, my husband and family have learned to save dead bug carcasses, butterfly wings, and bird egg shells (among other things) for me. Odd, I suppose, but each item is cherished!

From there, I was stuck. What to add next? Finally, I happen to be taking some photos of my journal with my palette sitting in the photo as well. I decided to add the palette. The palette itself is an old one from Winsor Newton that has 18 quarter-wells. A month or so later, I stumbled across a pair of binoculars my husband used to collect—into the painting they went.

Again, I lost direction and the painting laid, neglected and unfinished, for nearly a year.

The issue was that I could not figure out the background. I thought about rocks, grass, pebbles, or some other surface—outside. I wanted to get it finished, but just couldn't quite see the background working out. One day, Chris and I were in the studio and he asked why I hadn't finished the painting.
Nature's Classroom
© Laure Ferlita, All Rights Reserved
9 x 12 inches
watercolor, acrylic, ink, gouache, and graphite
Please click to enlarge
I told him about my dilemma and he immediately started making suggestions. When he suggested the surface of his antique Federal Reserve desk that he uses as an art desk in his studio I knew that was my answer! It was a reddish oak with heavy graining and years of abuse—perfect!

Well, almost perfect.

I had not taken into consideration that I might be doing a dark background and I needed to figure out a way to keep the binocs from getting "lost" against such a background. I knew a piece of paper would work, but what kind of paper?

I wanted something that would tell a story. I had recently purchased some old French letters from an online store and with them came an old air mail envelope. That became my model with sketches and notes on it as if I had gone to the post office and become captivated by the falling leaves.

For balance, the compass and leaf were added. Now I only had one "blank spot." Imagine my joy (and relief) when the new hardbound  Stillman & Birn sketchbook arrived! A sketchbook! Yes! The final piece.

Nature's Classroom was (finally!!) completed this month. It has a little bit of everything in it as fair as medium goes, but the majority of it watercolor. I love the fact that there was never a "still life" set up—it was all created piecemeal until it came together as a whole.

To celebrate the successful conclusion of the odyssey, I will be offering one 8 x 10 print* of Nature's Classroom as a giveaway!  This is a win-it-before-you-can-buy-it deal. I will be offering the prints in my Etsy shop after the giveaway.

If you'd be interested in winning this print, leave me a comment below about what you've learned in Mother Nature's classroom! 
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*This giveaway is for one 8 x 10 inch print of Nature's Classroom. This is for the print only. No copyrights or rights are included. The print may not be reproduced for any reason without written consent from the artist.
Please leave a comment (just one, please!) on this post by Thursday night, November 1st, at 12:00 am EST. The winner will be announced on Friday!

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