Environmental Scientist and Artist

We started our new lifestyle 19 days ago and I’m still trying to pull my shit together. These first few posts on visiting studios will be out of sequence since I—me—didn’t get going fast enough.

I’m organizing my life, my art, and our travel trailer. Every day is a trip in more ways than one.


Nashville, Tennessee, was the seventh stop along my journey. I visited a great friend and artist Dana Ryan Perez, an Environmental Scientist by degree. Dana focused on slime molds (algae) for her master’s. She is also a certified Master Gardener. As for her art, it came much later, but science is always part of Dana’s creative process.

© 2017 Dana Ryan Perez, Sustainable Botanical Prints is the title of Dana’s three-year adventure. This piece is a Japanese Maple print from her Salt Lake home garden. It is steam and pressure printed to extract the natural pigments in the leaves, printed on Lettra paper. No chemicals involved.

© 2017 Dana Ryan Perez, Sustainable Botanical Prints is the title of Dana’s three-year adventure. This piece is a Japanese Maple print from her Salt Lake home garden. It is steam and pressure printed to extract the natural pigments in the leaves, printed on Lettra paper. No chemicals involved.

I am a gardener like my mother before me and her mother before her. We touch the land, nurture the seeds, harvest the fruits and share the bounty. We are caretakers of the earth. I am a printer like my father before me and my son after me. I set the type and crank the press. There is heritage in this link between nature and technique. There is a love for the land and a love for rendering it into art. This has been a three-year adventure in mixing science and craft with the unpredictability of Mother Nature. 
I have moved from the pressroom to the city farm, printing my way through the garden with the ink from pigments in the leaves and stems. Drawing them out with steam, pressure and time. Some give willingly, others prefer not to let go of their precious color. Using this sustainable process to transfer the pigments onto paper and fabric has become more predictable with time, but each unveiling reveals the unexpected. The prints are vibrant and ethereal, leaving behind only water and debris for compost.
© 2017 Louise Levergneux, Dana's studio is quiet for the moment while Dana's settling in Nashville after living in Texas—home for her soul for 46 years and 17 years in Utah developing her art work.

© 2017 Louise Levergneux, Dana's studio is quiet for the moment while Dana's settling in Nashville after living in Texas—home for her soul for 46 years and 17 years in Utah developing her art work.

And you know—I love insects, rocks, plants, books, printing, textiles and generally making a mess!! 
© 2017 Louise Levergneux, Dana's cabinet of tools certainly not a mess!

© 2017 Louise Levergneux, Dana's cabinet of tools certainly not a mess!

© 2017 Louise Levergneux, Dana's wonderful, colourful weights are one of many surprises in her studio

© 2017 Louise Levergneux, Dana's wonderful, colourful weights are one of many surprises in her studio

© 2017 Louise Levergneux, Dana's  collection of acorns

© 2017 Louise Levergneux, Dana's  collection of acorns

Dana introduced me to many species of trees while walking around the campus of Vanderbilt University in Nashville.

© 2017 Louise Levergneux, biggest Southern Magnolia on the Vanderbilt campus

© 2017 Louise Levergneux, biggest Southern Magnolia on the Vanderbilt campus

I photographed the Common Bald Cypress’ amazing cones—round balls which split open along the lines producing rounded scales something like thumbtacks. It is an important swamp tree along the Mississippi River as far north as Illinois and along the southern coast. It is one of the few trees that can grow in standing water.

© 2017 Louise Levergneux, Bald Cypress

© 2017 Louise Levergneux, Bald Cypress

© 2017 Louise Levergneux, Bald Cypress cones

© 2017 Louise Levergneux, Bald Cypress cones

What caught my eye was the Southern Magnolias with their unmistakable large creamy, white flowers and shiny evergreen leaves. Many of them planted on the main campus since they are not native to Tennessee.

© 2017 Louise Levergneux, Southern Magnolia fruit

© 2017 Louise Levergneux, Southern Magnolia fruit

© 2017 Louise Levergneux, Southern Magnolia opened flower

© 2017 Louise Levergneux, Southern Magnolia opened flower

© 2017 Louise Levergneux, Southern Magnolia flower detail

© 2017 Louise Levergneux, Southern Magnolia flower detail

It was a colourful visit and has inspired ideas.

Next will be Manassas, Virginia, but I will take you back to Colorado with Helen Hiebert first.