Lake Mother Watching by Kristen Schwartz

June 5, 2016
    ArtArt Scene

I had always wanted to create a piece that showed the joy of a mother watching over her child – in this case Lake Tahoe.

Many cultures have stories of mysterious ladies that live in lakes.

As the Angora Fire hit 100% containment on July 2, 2007, I finished this illustration of Lake Mother – Lake of the Sky.

I had been working on the illustration for months.

No lives were lost in this devastating fire that took 254 homes. For days the strong winds that were predicted failed to come. I believe it was Lake Mother.

If you drive from one end of town to the other you probably don’t notice any burned areas. It is well hidden, but not forgotten.

Every day Lake Mother continues to watch over us.

Lake Mother by Kristen Schwartz:

She watches,
Heart full of joy.
Winds blow.

She calms them.
Danger passes.
Life goes on…

She watches,
Heart full of joy.
Water rises.

She holds it back.
Danger passes.
Life goes on…

Kristen has created many other illustrations of Lake Tahoe cultural characters including Cave Rock Woman and Lake Mermaid.

Kristen is currently working on a new illustration for Tahoe: Lost & Found. A Phoenix.

I am an illustrator and writer – specializing in botanical and fantastical subject matter, with emphasis on cultural mythology. What is cultural mythology? It’s all those great stories that different cultures use to make sense of their surroundings. It’s the spice and magic that influences how we relate to most everything in our lives.

My odyssey as an illustrator began 13 years ago when I did the botanical illustrations for the book Medicine From the Mountains: Medicinal Plants of the Sierra Nevada. I developed a specialty in medicinal plant “portraits” that I really enjoyed as I had been studying herbology for some time.

While illustrating for clients I was also designing exhibits around my botanical illustrations and my writing about the history and folklore of medicinal plants.

When I added faeries to my illustrations I developed a project called Faery Medicine. This project, which still exists today, embodies the history and folklore of medicinal plants in an effort to pass on valuable “plant wisdom” in a magical and entertaining way.

The main vehicle for presenting this wisdom has been through short stories, or faerytales, and illustrations shown in exhibits. These stories and images have also been available on notecards and as prints.

My motto is, “When the wisdom of past generations ceases to exist, so too, shall we”. Because I believe this so strongly, a portion of all my sales as an illustrator goes to the Ethno Medicine Preservation Project which strives to protect cultural information regarding medicinal plants of all kinds.

The main inspiration for my fantastical illustrations comes from indigenous peoples and healing customs from around the world. I also feel a strong connection with the earth itself – the most ancient object we are in contact with on a daily basis.

While I gain inspiration from studying cultural traditions and from an earthly connection that allows my characters a place to spring from, my daily dose of creative energy comes from Lake Tahoe, the magical place where I live and play.

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