fledgling barn swallow, Kelly Leahy Radding‘A picture is worth a thousand words’; a trite, somewhat overused phrase but how true for me!

Spending time outdoors

I am a natural history painter; painting what I see out in nature. I spend a lot of time outside experiencing nature, both in my backyard and when I travel. If I am traveling for something that will keep me indoors most of the time, I try very hard to get some ‘outside’ time even if that means scheduling some extra days so that I can explore. I always have camera gear and a sketchbook. And I will admit right here, right now, that I am just as happy taking pictures as I am drawing in my sketchbook. But I will also say that I am compelled to paint, to put down on paper the images in my brain that my observations and, yes, my camera put in there.

forest, sepia, coastal maine botanical gardens, Kelly Leahy Radding

Taking pictures is essential for my art. One can argue that just observing should be enough to get that ‘moment’ into my brain so that it can be processed and painted someday. But my camera can capture details that I can use later, and it does sometimes capture moments that I don’t see at the time. I will only paint subjects that I have observed with my own eyes, scenes that I have actually witnessed, and I use all of my own photographic reference.

A catalog of many and a lifetime of pictures

I have thousands and thousands of photographs. One of my Lightroom master catalogs has almost 70,000 photos in it. Yes, ONE of my catalogs; I also have specific catalogs for individual trips that have many thousands more pictures. And that doesn’t even count pictures from years past. Will I get around to painting much of what my cameras have captured over the years? Absolutely not, I would have to live many lifetimes to do that! But what the story of all of these pictures tell is that I have spent many, many hours outside; in the heat, the cold, the wind, the sleet and snow, the bugs, in short, in nature.

And that makes me happy.

puffins, Kelly Leahy Radding

Please enjoy this inaugural blog post of my monthly adventures with my camera. Here is a smattering of July 2016 pictures.