Beaver Meadow Arts
Kim Black: Inspired by the Natural World
Vessels, ornaments, and framed shards made from gourds
ARTIST KIM BLACK
Artist Kim Black
INSPIRED BY THE NATURAL WORLD
“Art and the creative process offer endless possibilities which I find delightfully challenging and endlessly enjoyable”
I grew up in Oregon enjoying all the beauty and outdoor splendor the Pacific Northwest has to offer. As an avid gardener I have a strong connection to all that is nature, yet it wasn’t until I retired and took up drawing that I think I really “saw” nature for the first time. The blend of colors, patterns and shapes in the natural world have all taken on new meaning as I’ve tried to capture their beauty in my art. I am a life long learner who enjoys trying new things. Art and the creative process offer endless opportunities which I find delightfully challenging and endlessly enjoyable.
My goal is to create artwork that is high quality, yet affordable. I am fascinated and inspired by indigenous art throughout the world, with a special fondness for the art and cultures of the Northwest and Southwest. The similarity of cave drawings and petroglyphs around the world is amazing and reflects history and stories we can still glimpse today. Using these images as inspiration I hope you find my work as enjoyable as it is to create.
In addition to making gourd vessels and framed gourd wall art, I am a pine needle basket maker. I have been making and teaching pine needle basketry for over 30 years. I also teach gourd classes. If you’d like to learn, contact me via the link in the main menu above.
About GourdsA NATURAL CANVAS
The “canvas” for my art is a hardshell gourd. Gourds are member of the Curcurbitaceae family, which includes pumpkins, squashes, melons and cucumbers. Hard shell gourds are a variety called Lagenaria which are best suited for art projects. Early cultures across the globe have used gourds as storage containers, tools, musical instruments and art.
Gourds grow in an surprising variety of sizes and shapes. Oftentimes common names reflect their shapes — such as canteen, bottle, penguin, kettle, swan, snake and cannonball. This gives an artist an almost unlimited palette to work with.
As gourds cure, mold is a natural element that aids the drying process and creates patterns on the gourd. Mold must be removed, inside and outside, before the gourd can be safely used. Mold can cause serious respiratory illness, so a respirator must be worn when cleaning, sanding or carving gourds. Once a gourd is clean, it is safe to bring indoors and start the process of creating art.
The unique characteristics of each gourd requires flexibility and adaptation with a design idea, making the creative process extremely fun and challenging. I typically draw my designs with a wood burning pen, then use transparent ink dyes to allow the natural beauty of these patterns to show through while adding color.
Carving adds a three-dimensional aspect and texture to many of my pieces. A variety of embellishments may be added which include inlaid cabochons, beads, and rims woven from pine needles, horsehair, iris leaves, philodendron, and reed.
Do You Grow Your Own Gourds?
Sometimes people ask me if I grow my own gourds. Yes, I have. The first time I grew gourds, I planted Giant Wine Kettle gourds. They truly lived up to their name. Little did I know they would take over my entire garden, the fence, and part of my neighbors field! Keeping them in check became a challenge. One weighed 80 pounds when we picked it and was 30 inches in diameter! Other varieties are much more manageable and all are really fun to grow, but the ones I use for my art, I purchase from Arizona. These have a much harder shell because of the hot climate and longer growing season. This makes them better for wood burning and carving.