Article Type Making Art Together Making Art Together Categories Drawing Nature Painting

Meadow Inspiration

Meg Nicoll

Last summer saw the opening of Bobbie’s Meadow, a multi-use space that is a tribute to Eric Carle’s late wife and co-founder of the Museum, Barbara Carle. The space offers a wonderful opportunity to connect people, nature, and art.  As we transitioned from winter to spring, we were excited to see what this first full year of the meadow would bring.

The meadow itself sits among apple trees, is planted with native wildflowers, and will mature over many years. In talking to the specialists who planted the meadow, we came to understand that in order to help care for our meadow, as a space for education and enjoyment, we need to spend time getting to know more about the ecology of the space. So this spring and summer, we are inviting guests to help us explore and document the meadow to gain insight into what is growing and living there. Beyond providing wonderful inspiration for art-making, our documentation project will also help inform future decisions about how to care for and program within the meadow.

Beginning in late April, we took photographs of the Meadow, and already we can see a remarkable change just in one month.

One of the first plants we noticed was a blue flower. We learned that it is in the genus Scilla and grows from bulbs. These blue flowers will be among the first to appear in the Meadow each spring. This photo of a Scilla flower was taken on the 21st of April this year.

Soon after the Scilla appeared, we saw buds and new leaves on the apple trees. We had lots of rain this spring, as was captured in this photo from the 3rd of May.

Art Educator Sara got a photo one of the bluebirds living in the meadow, we think that a pair are nesting in the trunk of this apple tree. We often see them flying through the meadow and perching on branches in the mornings.

As the grasses grew tall towards the end of May, we saw evidence of more meadow residents, such as the spittlebug, named for this nest of bubbles it creates. We learned that the spittlebug is the nymph stage of the froghopper, and this is where it lives as it grows into the adult froghopper.

We also discovered this striped, shell-shaped fungus growing on the apple tree bark. We haven’t identified it yet!

While we have been taking photos and recording what we see, visitors are also helping us document what is happening in the meadow. A school group created these paintings of the meadow during a Nature Narratives program in May. In this program, Educators help classes record what they see in the meadow during an inspiration walk, and then students explore watercolors to create their own meadow painting. The students took their watercolors home with them, but kindly let us photograph what they made before the end of their visit.

We want to provide a platform for visitors to continue to contribute to the meadow documentation project throughout the summer, so we have made observation kits to borrow from the Art Studio. These kits contain drawing tools, a magnifier, ruler, viewfinder and observation sheets with games and suggestions of different ways to collect information about the meadow. We hope that these kits provide a fun and interesting way for visitors of all ages to explore the meadow and share what they find there. As more observations are collected, we will add them to a collaborative installation in the Art Studio where we can share artwork and information with everyone who visits the museum. 

Because the meadow is growing and home to a variety of animals, including bees and ticks, we ask that all observations take place from the meadow walkway or the mown section of grass in the orchard. This will help keep ourselves, as well as the plants and animals of the meadow, safe. We hope that lots of people can join us in observing, learning, and creating art inspired by the meadow this summer.


Meg smiling in the Art Studio.

Meg Nicoll

Art Educator at The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art since 2016, Meg enjoys working with artists, educators, and people of all ages to create opportunities for art-making.