Claire experiences and processes the world creatively. Intensely curious and introspective, she engages with the world deeply, noticing details that many others simply pass by. Since she comes from a bookish family with cokebottle glasses, she rejoices in both the miracle of being ABLE to see, and the miracle of NATURE and CULTURE that she is able to see. As a result her work is full of gratitude, honoring both the spirit and the vitality of wild and working landscapes.
She began her journey as an artist at a young age in her own unique way. There was no art school, no training, just the joy of doodling and the daily quests of discovery. In college, she spent hours wandering in the mountains with a field journal and pen in hand, recording observations and reflections on the landscape community around her: alligators and spoonbills in Central Texas or elk and whitebark pine in the Northern Rockies. This was hands-on, place based learning at its finest.
Really, Claire became an artist through the back door. Having discovered the joy of observing the fine details of the world, she pursued a graduate degree in Natural Science illustration from University of California in Santa Cruz. With no degree in either science or art, it was a great surprise that she was accepted into this highly competitive Science Communication program. As with many things, she just jumped in and made the path by walking.
Since graduating from the Natural Science Illustration Program from UCSC in 2000, she has worked as a scientific illustrator, illustrating several books, posters, interpretive signs and publications. Her clients include W.W. Norton, the New York Botanical Garden, Montana Audubon, US Forest Service, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, California State Parks, Mountain Press, and Orion Magazine. In 2005, she completed an M.S. in Environmental studies from the University of Montana, with an emphasis in place-based education and art. In 2015, she finally got to go to art school! She completed a cutting-edge, immersive MFA program in Visual Art from Vermont College of Fine Art.
For the past 20 years, Claire has passionately pursued connecting art and conservation in her field sketches, her commissions, her original woodcuts, her teaching programs and in her place-based installations. How to engage people in the wonder and beauty of nature? How to use art as a tool to engage people in the local landscape community and conservation issues? How to catalyze community, both human and ecological, through creative group work and dialogue? These are the questions at the heart of her work in the world.
She has collaborated with a dozen conservation groups, including Glacier National Park, the Montana Osprey Project, California State Parks, Missoula's Garden City Harvest, Montana Audubon, the Community Food and Agriculture Coalition, and the Fire Center at the University of Montana. She is particularly interested in projects involving restoration and vitality: wild places, working landscapes, and personal transformation.
Her current work focuses on transforming her field sketches, observations of place, and reflections on the spiritual journey into woodcuts. Using a variety of carving tools, she carves away at the woodblocks, drawing images out of the darkness of the wood and into the light. Her bold and exquisitely detailed woodcuts are commissioned by conservation organizations and sought by collectors around the country.
All art springs from an impulse to create or act, and what better way to create than to absolutely love your subject: the earth, the opening of a bud, the changing faces of the mountains, the ripening of a sungold tomato, the song of a white-crowned sparrow, the lilt of snow on needles. There is always more to notice.
Claire spends part of every day outdoors watching, listening and attending to the nuances of the seasons as they flow by. All of Claire's work begins outdoors or with a particular conservation issue of our time. Wandering outdoors with birders, herpetologists, fungophiles, weed specialists, friends, family and an occasional pug has opened some of the secret chambers in Nature's Kingdom to her, providing unending wow moments from which her woodcuts spring. Being a naturalist is really a practice of engaging, asking questions, looking for answers and doing it all over again. It is lifework. There is always more to learn.
One cannot notice and cherish the details of nature's inner working without wanting to celebrate and protect it. The conservation work Claire supports through collaborations and commissions directly springs from her nature studies. This work includes fire research, osprey research and education, urban food production, protecting agricultural soils and much more. there is always more to do.
Claire views teaching as a core part of her artistic practice. Outdoor time, Studio time and Teaching time are the three legs of her practice. Time wandering outdoors provides inspiration and connection to the land. During solitary studio work, she transforms her discoveries outdoors into woodcuts and commissions. Exploration and discovery in community, also called teaching, is where small groups learn from each and the land what is within and around them.
Claire has taught students ages 4-94 in many places in Montana including STEAM teacher trainings at the Yellowstone Institute, the Missoula Art Museum, the Master Naturalist Program at the Montana Natural History Center, the Berkshire School, Montana Audubon, the Teller Wildlife Refuge, the University of Montana Wilderness and Civilization Program, UM Printmaking Department, Project WET, as well as schools and nature centers in Alaska, Massachusetts and California.
She especially enjoys working with elementary, high school and college students as an Artist in Residence in schools across Montana, funded in part by the Montana Arts Council. Please contact Claire for her current programs and for inquiries about workshops or residency programs in the schools.
Stay tuned for upcoming openings in private lessons, group programs and field journal retreats.
Whether you need a special order or just have questions, please feel free to shoot us a message and we'll get back to you as soon as we can! Be well!
P.O. Box 8656
Missoula, Montana, 59807