Living in the Woods...
Doreyl Ammons Cain

From the first day, my life in the woods meant living creatively. Nature just moves you that way. I canít say itís an easy way to go, as most animals in the woods demonstrate, yet this life-style keeps you fully awake and aware. The fast energy of a ground squirrel, a bird in flight or the shine in the eyes of a field mouse all tell a story of intense aliveness. This same kind of energy goes into creating a work of art, so these woods, Natureís Home Preserve & Yurt Retreat, has become my studio.

Living artfully makes a connection to a world beyond day to day chores, a saving grace when faced with troubles and worry. The sheer joy of creating something new strengthens and renews my spirits. With this in mind I recently began a Wildflower Pastel Painting Workshop here at Natureís Home. Figuring to share my thirty years of experience with pastel painting along with the stimulating aliveness of the woods, I put aside the first Saturday of every month during the warm season for the workshop.

Discovery of something previously unknown or unseen gives a keen feeling of accomplishment and delight. When hiking our nature trails searching for an inspiring scene to paint, discovery is constant. This time of year washes of clear color lightens the landscape with wildflowers like Trillium, Violets, Dogwood blossoms, and the Kelly green of tender new leaves. Wild birds, so intent on feeding and building their nests, stay in position so you can sketch them. Even squirrels stop their nosey chatter and sit still on tree limbs to study the growing forest. Students of pastel painting become students of nature in these workshops.

To view nature undisturbed gives the most profound esthetic experience. No wonder people still attempt to capture this natural beauty on paper & canvas and have since recorded human history. So far in this series of workshops, art students surprise themselves at the creativity that bubbles up with each encounter with a wildflower or distant mountain scene.

At four years of age I took my first artistic stroke. I broke off a stick and drew birds in the sandy dirt road that wound itís way up to our mountain cabin. For hours at a time I studied the wings of butterflies, crawdads in the creek, the firefliesís flickering lights and every wildflower within my short grasp. These Smoky Mountains filled my young heart. Now, as a much more experienced biological artist and avid hiker, I still wander the mountains and study the splendor of the millions of living species around me.

This series of Wildflower Pastel Painting Workshops is a way to welcome others to this unexplainable special experience in the woods. You donít have to be an artist to come, just realize that everyone is creative and you are too! The workshops are the first Saturday of every month from 1:00 till 5:00 PM. To make a reservation call 828-293-2239 or email


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