Lori Blaylock, Billings Member Since August 2008 Artist Statement I began with a simple number two pencil in my school notebooks. As a kid, my drawings reflected the wild spaces and life that saved me. I grew up in a family that thrived on addiction, chaos and abuse. To avoid a life I couldn’t control, I retreated outside, spending hundreds of hours observing, drawing and learning from nature. The miracles I found and the connections I made, with creatures from grasshoppers to horses, brought me solace and hope. I realized my life is bigger than dysfunction, and nature has the power to heal the spirit and the mind.
Nature has become my church. It is in natural spaces where I still find peace, joy and inspiration. It is constant, it has no judgment, it exists without intervention from humankind. In many cases, it exists in spite of humankind. I prefer to explore nature close up with a sort of human macro lens. Looking specifically at details like texture, line and shape.
Classical drawing techniques and naturalist observations allow me to re-create the feelings of reverence I have for the wild. My narrative is not a means of record-keeping or pastoral landscape. In the world around me, what I find most fascinating are the details. I believe the texture or line of a leaf are beautiful on their own. A section of bison fur is just as breathtaking as the entire bison. An eagle isn’t just another pretty eagle, but an individual with their own life experiences. My work is about connecting and feeling these details.
For me, there is beauty everywhere. We tend to value elk over a spider, for instance, because they are picturesque. But shouldn’t we also value spiders... and rattlesnakes... and snails because they hold a specific place in an intricate ecosystem? In my world, they all have value, it’s intrinsic. So, I bring my experience to you primarily with pencil, conté and pastels. Simple materials that feel like an extension of my hands. They allow me to have more control over line and detail than brushes and paint.
I work on most pieces start to finish in one sitting. Idea to sketch to finished work, all of these usually happen in my head and on one sheet of paper. But, there are times when I want to convey a more complicated idea and that takes additional planning, including separate sketches to explore composition and form.
At this point in my life, I feel I have a responsibility to what I believe saved my life as a child. So part of my work is to learn more about what threatens habitat, wilderness and individual species. I do my work because I believe that in order to save something, you must first love it and then understand it. If I can show you the beauty that exists in the details, maybe you’ll love it as much as I do. And that is a start.