Friday, May 13, 2016

Inspiration at the Zoo

One of my favorite things about living in Nashville is having a zoo membership.  I love to go early in the mornings on Saturday or Sunday and get a good walk in on the paths - the zoo is large enough and hilly enough that I can get a pretty good workout in...if I don't get distracted by all of the inspiring colors, shapes textures and critters around me.  The natural world is far and away the biggest source of inspiration for my beadwork... I know I'm not alone in this!  I hope you will follow along with my creative inspiration tour of the Nashville Zoo!
Foliage and Texture - inspiration abounds in the foliage, landscaping and structures at the zoo.  I have a fascination with beading leaves, and have yet to stumble across a technique that i'm really satisfied with.  Looking at these ferns and hosta leaves is giving me some new ideas!  Check out the texture on that Osage orange...wouldn't that be interesting to recreate?  The net and tree bark are giving me ideas for different bead netting patterns.  And then there's the fact that green is one of my favorite colors to work with...
Flowers - ah, of the most prominent sources of natural color palettes, and a lesson in how contrast works.  When you start looking deeper, all of the layers offer up more textural and structural inspiration.  I can't help thinking of short little fringes when I see the stamens on the iris. And those bachelor buttons...can you see them turned into tight spiky bead ruffles?  Hmm, or maybe a doll tutu...
Birds of a Feather - I love birds.  When people describe themselves as cat or dog people, I think of myself as more of a bird person.  Between the colors and variety, eyes, and fantastic brightly colored skin, birds are an endless source of eye candy.  Just look at all the variety of texture on the flamingo, the color combination on the cassowary, and intensity of the hyacinth macaw blue...My fingers are itching to create.
Earthy Animal Colors - Ok, so we all know how much I love color - bright and jewel and contrasting. But when I feel the need to create with a more subdued palette, these are my inspirations.  I find these critters a good reminder that even when the colors are not so saturated there is still contrast to be found.
Reptiles and Amphibians - Snakes, caiman, and tortoises, Oh My!  Reptiles and amphibians have always appealed to me...and I love these pictures for so many reasons.  Again, color and texture abound.  But why not drag out the boxes of animal beads and find a tiny golden frog fetish to incorporate in a project?  Or the malachite crocodile fetish I've been hoarding...maybe it's time to do something with him?  Or maybe that old Galapagos tortoise is telling me it's time to make another turtle totem for my other half...hmmm...
Majestic Koi - The zoo has quite a fun collection of aquatic life in their small indoor aquarium...but I always end up testing out my camera settings to take pictures of the large Koi outside - sometimes it's tricky to choose a setting with a fast enough shutter speed, that will still read the colors and not capture too much glare from the surface.  This trip I tried out the "sunset" setting and I think it might be my favorite!  These fish are so used to being fed that they congregate around if you lean over the barrier blocking the edge of the pond.  This means I can snap a pic from less than a foot away!  Koi can grow to be quite old, and I've been taking pictures of these fish for at least 7 years.  That big speckle white and black with the orange eye spots (bottom left) is my favorite!  And somehow that big orange one (far right) ended up looking like a dragon!  So cool!

Have you been to your local zoo, aquarium, or botanical garden lately?  Tis the season!  Life is bursting outside right now - get out and get inspired!


  1. Thank you for sharing how you get inspiration from your zoo. I live about 2 miles from the zoo in my city. I will be making a visit to see what might be there to give me inspiration.

  2. What amazing photo's Lindsay such beautiful colours and textures!


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