Living in a log cabin with no running water and electricity, artist and illustrator Rebecca Stouffer of Wild Green Onion relates well to the notion of a simple life. This theme is woven into her whimsical illustrations, where she gathers inspiration from farm life and the sweet nuances of nature. We recently interviewed Rebecca on the stories and inspiration behind her work, and were equally inspired by her simplicity and ease. Welcome, Rebecca!  

 

Tell us a little bit about yourself: What got you interested in illustration and water color?

I'm primarily a self-taught artist. Growing up, I was continually drawing or making something. I lived in the country, picked berries, explored the woods, played house, made mud pies. I loved the outdoors and all the critters who made it their home.

My sketches evolved from cartoon faces into more detailed studies of what I found during my adventures. I started experimenting with pen and ink, dipping the ink nib into the bottle of ink and using the stippling technique. Right before college, I received a watercolor pencil set of 24 colors. That was the turning point for me, when I got hooked on layering colors and watching the mystery that happened when water was added. I still have that set today, but now use 72 colors.

 

Where do you gather most of the inspiration for your work?

My inspiration still comes mostly from nature. I go for long walks. There will be a tree with twisted roots that form a burrow; a shrew running every which way across the snow; a mama snowshoe hare sitting on the well platform where we go to fetch water; the humungous toad that appears from under the woodpile. Things of my daily life give the first inspiration, and then I like to add a bit of whimsy. Like a bee having a conversation with a goat. Or a rabbit sitting next to the farmer's lettuce—and the farmer. Little things like that. There is always a story within my illustrations.

 

Do you have a favorite artist?  If so, what draws you to that person’s work?

I have two watercolor artists whom I admire, both for their talent and lifestyles: Beatrix Potter and Tasha Tudor, and the way they created their own artistic worlds with animals talking, wearing clothes, living in the past. I love how they were able to captivate the viewer and draw you in to those times of long ago, both real and imaginary.

Tasha Tudor lived her life as though it was the 19th century or earlier, which I can relate to because I'm now living in a log cabin with no running water or electricity and I use a wood-burning cookstove for heat and baking/cooking.

Both of these women were gardeners, which I can also relate to. I enjoy how gardens, animals, antiques, and lifestyle are featured in their illustrations. That’s the fun part of being an artist, I think—adding those details from your daily life into your paintings. Both of these women were independent, determined, loved life and never gave up on doing what they wanted. Very inspiring!

 

Your work reflects a true love for farm life. How did that come about?

The great thing about being an artist is even if you don't have the whole farm in real life, you can paint as though you do! Right now, I have a small flock of chickens, several gardens, a recycled greenhouse and five fruit trees planted for the orchard. I am trying to live a simpler life, which is not for everybody. I enjoy planting a garden, harvesting the vegetables, and preserving them for winter. For years, I have been planting only heirloom, open-pollinated seeds for my flower and vegetable gardens, so I can then save the seed for using the next season. No GMO's here (but that's another story).

I would like to have a couple of Nubian goats for milking, a heritage breed pig and sheep, a guard donkey, perhaps bees? One step at a time. All that to say, I hope that my artwork inspires people to grow a garden and see beauty in the simple, basic things of living. And, farm animals are just too cute and hilarious; I have to paint them!

 

What, in your opinion, is the hardest step in creating your cards?

Perhaps the hardest part in creating a card or any painting is not to overthink things. I find that my best designs are when I work quickly and just have fun in the process; otherwise, the end result will look stiff. If I allow the inner child to be free, then things go pretty well. After all, sending a card to someone is like sending a gift. You're trying to express or share a certain sentiment, and that has a lot to do with the illustration, which is why I like to mostly paint in bright colors. If someone picks up my card and smiles, then I know the final product was a success.

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