Bits 'n' Pieces: Artist examines natural world

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photoBarbara AW Wright will showcase her illustrations of natural science this month at the Alcove Art Gallery in Ridgefield.

The natural illustrations by Ridgefield resident Barbara AW Wright blur the line between art and science. She showcases detailed views of flora and fauna through watercolor, ink, colored pencil and graphite.

In college, Wright, 66, found a way to combine her long-held fascinations with art and science by majoring in cartography at Bellevue College. She worked in the field for 10 years before turning to education, becoming a math teacher in the Seattle area. While teaching, she continued her passion for art and science through a University of Washington certificate program on scientific illustration.

"I retired a year ago, and now devote all my time to illustrations," she said. She and her husband decided to move to Ridgefield after visiting the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge.

Wright's process combines a scientific eye for detail with an artist's sense of composition. "I pick specimens, skulls, shells, and plants that appeal to me artistically," she said. Conveying science education through art has always been important to Wright. Many of her illustrations include companion texts that detail scientific facts about her subjects.

She hopes her art show at the Alcove Gallery will inspire visitors to look at the nature around them in a new way.

Barbara AW Wright's exhibit, "Nature's Unique Handiwork," will be on display throughout the month of November from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays at the Alcove Art Gallery, 328 Pioneer St., Ridgefield.

— Ashley Swanson

Woodland writer spins tale of youthful misadventure

When enough time passes, even the most embarrassing memory can make a stellar story.

With a sign in her office that reads, "Bad decisions make good stories," Woodland's Pat Nelson put that theory to the test with an essay in the "Not Your Mother's Book" series. It's her second for Publishing Syndicate, owned by a California couple who co-wrote many anthologies in the "Chicken Soup for the Soul" collection.

Nelson's story, featured in "Not Your Mother's Book … On Being a Stupid Kid," chronicles her first misadventure with alcohol as a 14-year-old. In "When you Gotta Go," many swigs from a pint of vodka led to her and a friend crawling on the roof when nature called. They worried about alerting the adults by venturing downstairs.

Publishing Syndicate CEO Dahlynn McKowen said Nelson's writing style fits the series well: funny with an edge. Based on her work, Nelson has contracted to co-create three books for the company.

"The thing that I'm most proud of is somebody else likes them besides me," Nelson said.

While she is expecting to receive royalties, likely between $50 and $100 a story, and more to help implement new books, Nelson said her family's wholesale business still pays a bulk of the bills.

"I'm 65, so to me, this is a great time for a new career," Nelson said. "This is something that I've wanted to do for so long."

Learn more at http://www.publishingsyndicate.com.

Stover E. Harger III

Bits 'n' Pieces appears Fridays and Saturdays. If you have a story you'd like to share, email bits@columbian.com.