Sheila Metcalf Tobin
As a young girl, among the flowers in my great grandmother’s garden, I became aware of a sensation. I was watching a Monarch butterfly gracefully fluttering about gathering nectar. Was it love? Yes. Wonder? Yes. A yearning to understand how I was like the butterfly and the butterfly was like me? Yes.
Walking through the world paying attention in this way, listening with my body I hear the universe and its contents: elements, animals, plants, all living, breathing, growing, blooming, vibrating with signals and suggestions of similarity. I collect these interactions and use observation based drawing to convey the connections I see within these encounters.
Standing in front of my paper, eyes search for shapes, observing details, I become aware of my body, as all of myself is directed toward the study of the subject. The drawings accumulate and I see and feel the relationships. How is this human body like a tree? How is a hand like the blossom of a flower? Further, via collage, I orchestrate compositions exploring physical features and experiences that we share with our wild counterparts.
The attention required in observation based drawing cultivates a pathway for an intimate connection. It allows for the possibility of knowing akin to tenderly holding and touching. It creates both love and empathy for my subjects. It makes me all the more human. I am linked together with my subjects. I am myself but also the flower, the bird, the wolf. I am myself but I am also you.