My Art

Even though I consider myself mostly a scientist and science educator, I've dabbled in arts since I was a small child.   When I was 8 and 9, my parents recognized potential talent, and hired an art tutor for me.  The top four images below ---- among others -- resulted from her tutoring.  Nothing to shout about, but not bad for a 9 year old boy.  (Note: My given name is "Ollar", which is old English for Alder.  I started using Alder as my name in my 50's after I got tired of explaining what "Ollar" meant to everyone I met.)

I took a couple of drawing classes later in life, but mostly, just got into my own style -- some would call it sketching or doodling -- as the years went on.  My themes tended to be nature or at least organic, life-like images, some of them quite abstract and humorous.   My fascination with and love of life began in early childhood, and relates to why I went on to become a biologist and ecologist.  I did the leopard head (pencil) in my late 20's, and the organic doodles (mythical creatures with a mythical equation) in my early 20's.

This pen and ink was one of several I drew during my mid-40's.  I was playing with using space as a major part of the structure.  Is it a primitive brain?  The inner workings of a cell?  How about a mushroom?  Or just another organic abstraction encouraging us to consider the shapes of living systems?  You tell me.

A 13" tattoo on my back, one of two on my body.  I sketched the basic image, and the tattoo artist improved it.  With the name "Alder", it had to be a (tribal) tree.  This was 3 hours of ritual pain in my mid-40's involving an 8-needle machine in two sittings, one to do the outline, the second to do the fill.  The break in the trunk represents our human disconnection from nature that I am addressing with Earth Studies Program and bushcraft.


Around age 14, I also got into photography, and spent many hours during the next few decades taking photos.  Eventually -- in my 30's -- I got serious with 35 mm, bought an Olympus OM-4T, some lenses and tripods.   I read a bunch of books about use of tripods, framing shots, modifying light and depth of field using camera settings.


My only claim to photography fame is the butterfly below -- a tiger swallowtail imbibbing water for salt at a spring in central NM with a dozen others -- which became the July butterfly on a calendar produced for the Entomological Society of America circa late 80's.

Today, I shoot mostly digital photos.  Currently, I shoot with an inexpensive Canon camera -- a gift from a student and supporter! -- but I hope to upgrade next year to a much better one.   I mix landscapes with macro images of the little life forms.   Some of my most recent images from the state of Maine are in my PHOTOS page.  I look forward to shooting much more in Scotland in 2019.

And, of course, I consider videography not just a teaching tool, but an art form in itself.   See my comments on film on this page.

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