As a child, Stephanie Rose Bird moved from the urban environment of northern New Jersey to a rural one, in southern New Jersey, and it changed her life forever. Growing up on an outcrop of the Pine Barrens, living in a wetland, among forest creatures and lush vegetation, continues to inspire and inform Bird's work today.
She began working as an artist utilizing the landscape as a teenager. Many of those early paintings where of the lake on which Bird grew up. Later, she went further afield and painted the local fields and barns of Salem, Cumberland and Gloucester County. Then Bird turned indoors, to still life. Utilizing the tomatoes and eggplants that give New Jersey its name, the Garden State, she found a subject matter that continues to fuel her imagination.
As a stay-at-home Mom, Bird went on to become an author, again sharing her passion for nature, while hopefully inspiring others to engage. Her books center on herbalism, aromatherapy, and plant life. She was brought into the realm of herbalism from her interest in art and craft, inspired by her parents who were entrepreneurs and makers, who lived close to the land. She delights in making soap and healing balms, as well as handmade paper from plants, and even her own paint, at times, derived from sea creatures, roots, herbs and minerals.
Living in the Midwest with her husband and family, she has found fresh material from which to work. Her recent work has returned to favorite topics: flowers, fruits, vegetables and the landscape specific to the area. She never paints from photographs, preferring instead to work using direct observation of life. Bird enjoys her daily challenges working from still life and en plein air, which captures the particular light conditions of the day, wondering if it will be windy, warm or too cold to work outdoors. She utilizes a variety of different materials to explore her subjects including sumi-ink, India ink, oil pastels, chalk pastels, conte crayons, and aquarelle pencils on a variety of papers, and oil and acrylic paints on canvas.
What intrigues her so much about plants and the land, is the energy and power they have over us all. They shape and mold, whether we are aware of this power of not. She makes a deliberate attempt to convey the power and wonder of nature in her paintings and drawings, inviting the viewer to take a closer look at what was once familiar.
The genesis and inspiration for Bird's paintings and drawings are shared in this Artist Statement