Sunday, August 9, 2009
Meet the Correspondents: Pam Johnson Brickell
Hello Everyone! I'm Pam Johnson Brickell, a born and raised New England farm girl, currently living in and loving the low country of South Carolina.
As a youngster, I knew art had to be a big part of my life. In my early teens, my folks fostered this passion by letting me study pastel painting with a local artist, and then didn't bat an eye when I announced I didn't want to attend a traditional college but desired to apply to the School of the Worcester Art Museum. Luckily, SWAM accepted this determined girl :) After college, I sought full time jobs that kept me close to creative 'types' - I worked my way up to positions in photographic lab management and then advertising production and traffic management. My personal creativity ebbed and flowed as time allowed.
In 1990, I left the corporate world and focused full time on my art career. At that time I was heavily into weaving, but in 2000, when we moved from NC to western NY, my focus returned to watercolors. I became enthralled with birds, especially raptors and water-birds. I've always sketched in journals, but I attribute the loooong, cold, gray winters of the finger lakes region the catalyst that made me fine tune my nature journaling skills. The dogs and I would bundle up and head out for our daily walks. I'd look for and record any signs of life; migrating waterfowl, geese, raptors, animal tracks, and come March - tiny signs of spring...... Nature journaling was my religion, my link to sanity during the gray days!
I think I own every 'how-to' nature sketch/journal book ever published by Kate, Hannah Hinchman, Clare Walker Leslie, Claudia Nice and Irene Brady. How honored I am to have Kate invite me to participate in this blog. Wow! I'm still smiling :)
My family, (husband and various fur kids over the years) have lived in MA, NC (2x), AZ, NY (2x), TN and now, our second time in SC. My moto ~ have husband, will travel ~ It's been fun to experience different parts of the country but for me, it's time to stay put and actually get a chance to settle in. Living in the south is sooooo different than the northeast. My days of wandering off into the woods to explore halted. Why? Primarily snakes and insects, the latter having a field day with me in manicured landscapes. I could only imagine my fate in the southern woods!
My goal to become settled in the low country led me to enroll in Clemson University's Master Naturalist Program. It's an intensive, 12 week study of the low country's environs. My classmates and I tromped through woods, held snakes (thankfully a friendly corn snake for me), walked tidal flats and waded in shallow tidewaters finding all sorts of goodies and some oogie slimy critters..... While I love being a constant student of nature, I definitely like to focus on trees, wildflowers, raptors and water-birds :)
I show my nature inspired acrylic and watercolor paintings at galleries, attend a few fine art fairs a year, and accept commissions. But mostly, I enjoy teaching nature sketching/journaling with watercolor pencils and Niji waterbrushes and share my knowledge of the low country with other transplants. Many people are moving to the area, building is out of control, and we need to protect the fragile ecosystem of the marshes and rivers. Like my role models listed above, I hope to help my students see with new eyes and hopefully they will get involved in the quest to save this place we now call home.
You can view my paintings at my website and follow my low country discoveries at my blog. I'm also on Flickr.