Jessica Crabtree

Tag: nature

“Birds of Paradise” Project

by on Feb.11, 2013, under JOURNAL: Nature, art, cultural perspectives

Cornell Bird of Paradise InteractiveThis is a really great interactive from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, exploring the twin wonders of color science and the unique bird-of-paradise.

How does their fantastic plumage develop across the hugely diverse array of the species – and by what process do we (and the creatures of their own habitats) perceive it?

Enjoy the amazing footage in this project video:

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Autumn photos

by on Oct.12, 2012, under JOURNAL: Nature, art, cultural perspectives

Here’s an album of fall photography from a couple of years back. In a good year, the crisp air following an early cold snap changes the colors of the Ozark landscape almost overnight to a brilliant rainbow that rivals even the best of a New England autumn.

Click any photo for full-size view.

I’ve posted these photos to the public domain, so if you like what you see, feel free to download them, use them elsewhere on the web, or as part of an art project – no strings attached. Just pass along the favor.

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My new favorite blog is…

by on Oct.01, 2012, under JOURNAL: Nature, art, cultural perspectives

So, in case you haven’t seen the amazing photo reblog from earlier this week – or noticed the newest addition to my blogroll – I just had to to mention my new favorite blog. It’s a hub for the camera magic of Canadian programmer, part-time photographer and mountain hiker Patrick Latter. Canadian Hiking Photography (as its obscure and enigmatic name might suggest) is devoted mostly to the vistas of Canada’s mountains, lakes, and woods as seen from a trekker’s point of view (though it’s not limited to gorgeous northern scenery).

Canadian Hiking Photography

It’s always great to stumble on a site that can grab your attention over and over because its content stands head and shoulders above the rest; let’s face it, the blogosphere is grossly over-blogged and seriously bogged-down with information overload. But these photos are consistently and refreshingly stunning – every time WordPress sends the latest post to my Inbox, I know it’s going to be good!

For anyone who’s interested, photographic prints of the artwork on the site are available from Smug Mug.

Check it out:

Patrick Latter – Canadian Hiking Photography

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by on Apr.26, 2012, under Gallery

moose charcoal
(Click to view up-close)

My latest charcoal & graphite – see her on my Online Gallery. Source photo: public domain.

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Pic Picks: Best of Wildlife

by on Apr.12, 2012, under JOURNAL: Nature, art, cultural perspectives

Little Blue Heron
A gorgeous shot of a Little Blue Heron in the John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge.
Photo credit: Bill Buchanan of the US Fish & Wildlife Service (Flickr).

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This Day in History: March 16

by on Mar.16, 2012, under Today in History

Bonheur sheepBorn on this day in 1822, Rosa Bonheur was probably the most successful and widely recognized woman painter of the 1800s.

Belonging to an artistic family with unusual social and political views gave Rosa a huge advantage in pursuing her talents. Her father, an accomplished artist himself, quickly recognized the independent streak in the tempestuous young student that brought her formal education to an impasse. He used art as an outlet for her creative energy and curiosity, and trained her at home, since women were not admitted to formal art training.

Bonheur DonkeyRaymond Bonheur supervised the art training of all four of his children as each developed their own interests and careers. Eventually their home studio developed into a family business, with several members cooperating at once on a commission.

Rosa honed her artistic skills by copying the great paintings of the Louvre, and studying animal anatomy at farmyards, slaughterhouses and veterinary schools – in short hair and men’s clothes, to boot. This was unthinkable for a girl of that time. But the knowledge acquired by first-hand observation resulted in the fine detail and realistic accuracy of her animal portraits, and also led to her noted accomplishments in the field of sculpture.

In 1841, at the age of 19, Rosa had the first of many exhibitions at the Paris Salon, winning numerous awards that led to her first state commission, the well-known Plowing in the Nivernais.

Plowing in the Nivernais

The Horse Fair, which she exhibited at the Salon in 1853, is considered her career masterpiece. Measuring 8 feet by 16 feet, the huge work is more a mural than a painting.

Rosa Bonheur The Horse Fair
(continue reading…)

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by on Mar.03, 2012, under JOURNAL: Nature, art, cultural perspectives


Even after a half-hearted winter, I find myself craving the first signs of springtime. The geese have long since passed overhead on their way north, and the first buds are appearing on the trees so I know I haven’t long to wait.

Jacarandas South AfricaWhile spring in most temperate regions brings a welcome surge of color and excitement, you haven’t seen the best of it until you’ve seen the spectacular show of jacaranda trees. Reserved (sadly) for dwellers of mild tropical and Mediterranean climates, the blue jacaranda (sp. mimosifolia) planted en masse can leave you breathless with its intoxicating wash of blue to purple-pink flowers – as if nature wanted to make up for its scarcity of blue all at once! (Image:

A native of South America, the jacaranda tree was first introduced to Dutch South Africa in the 1800s as an ornamental, where it quickly became established as a prized flowering landscape specimen. Its value as a shade tree lies in its large, dense fern-like foliage that remains evergreen in most parts of the world.

Throughout tropical and Mediterranean climates, many cities have planted them in parks and other public spaces, and feature long dramatic avenues of jacarandas that have become a kind of urban signature. Pretoria, South Africa, for instance, is called “Jacaranda City” for the explosion of blue blooms it flaunts every spring.

jacaranda blossomsMature trees reach up to 50 feet, with profuse eruptions of pendulous lavender blooms that last up to two months. Jacaranda timber is highly valued and much sought after for musical instruments.

Although classified as a vulnerable species, it is often considered invasive in highly hospitable climates where it has been introduced as an ornamental – including South Africa, Australia, and Hawaii where wild jacarandas cover the landscape and compete with native flora. (Image:

Jacaranda AvenueLovers of purple in most of the northern hemisphere will have to settle for lilacs or hydrangeas for the next best effect (or a foray into Google Images for some of the stunning poetic images of jacaranda lanes around the world).

While the jacaranda often garners complaints because of the amount of litter it creates, it is a beloved landmark with a loyal following wherever it grows. After all, how could you not love a tree that looks like it leapt from the pages of a fairy tale?

LA Times: Despite mess, jacarandas are purple people pleasers

More on what makes the color purple “tick”: Hints of Color – Purple

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About Me

I am a freelance artist living in Arkansas, US, specializing in historical portraits of American Indians. I blog about the portrayal and influence of Native Americans in art, history, and the media.

I am fascinated by history and world cultures, ancient and modern, and particularly indigenous peoples. My other interests include wildlife ecology, environmental issues & sustainability, journalism, photography, web design & development. I enjoy music and reading (see my book list here).

You can see some of my pastel work, and my drawings in charcoal and graphite, by visiting my online Gallery.