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Imagination ~ Childhood Revelations from Nature

Updated: Jul 23, 2023

All my life I have looked for unseen spirits and hidden images in aspects of nature. Even as a child, my creative imagination and my artistic expressions sought to reveal the other layers of what I perceived and believed was beneath my perceptions.

I grew up in Long Beach, California. The weather was usually a sunny constant, and the occasional rain only smelled of wet pavement. The beach was a calm breakwater beach bereft of shells, seasonally invaded by sunbathers and the smell of coconut tanning lotion. The only sea life experience was fishing with my dad, or digging clams in the mud by concrete piers.

When I was nine, my parents bought vacation property on the Hood Canal in Washington State. In contrast, Washington was a lush wilderness that filled me with fascination. I loved the dense, mysterious woods, miles of oyster beaches, tide pools, rivers, and waterfalls. The gentle rain smelled of fresh trees, and the sky was as complex a world as the woods, with its dark cloud formations in layers of light and shadow. The sunsets lit the clouds over snow-capped mountains and reflected on the brilliant water. I witnessed salmon spawning in the creek, eagles and osprey fishing in the Puget Sound, and gentle deer migrating to the beach at low tide to lick the salt off the rocks.

I often found driftwood on the beach and I could see the shapes of dragons and other mysterious creatures within it. My skill at carving the driftwood wasn’t satisfying enough, so I began to draw the creatures in the wood. My desire to draw was to reveal what I could perceive to myself and others.

sketches of dragons in driftwood by Kim McElroy
Kim's high school sketches of dragons in driftwood

The love of nature and what I could see and feel in her presence was the true beginning of the inspiration for my Horses in the Elements Series. In these works of art, I reveal images of horses that are present in the elements of earth, air, fire and water.

A pastel painting of a wave in Kauai featuring Mare's Heads formation as horses in the wave
Detail of horses in "Daybreak"

When I muse upon the years I spent combing northwest beaches and rivers. I am so grateful I had those first experiences and access to nature. It made an indelible imprint on my spirit. I still live in the Northwest, and am thankful I live in such a beautiful part of the world. Every day the beauty that surrounds me inspires me to create.

I think nature gives us a sense of belonging. It is inspiring to notice what aspects of nature are personal to us. Horses are one of the ways I receive my inner guidance, so I see them everywhere in nature, and usually when their appearance has meaning for me. Nature reflects message of wisdom. What do you perceive?

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24 jul 2023

I love this picture . Your inspiration shines through them and transports us into the way you see the world. It opens our eyes and our hearts. This image pulls at intuition and soul . What a wonderful gift you have and how strong is your spirit. Thank you for sharing your blogs with us.

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23 jul 2023

In a sunrise walking meditation we are nourished by nature in so many ways. Sunrise with clouds spreading the light across the valley. Purple Martins soar on the winds edge as the Nightjars settle back to ground. The Saguaro Colony is alive with baby peeps in the many boot holes that has the ancient giant alive as the Martins arrive to holes with insect food. Jack rabbit lopes as a pack of javelinas cross to settle in. The Monsoon season has the Creosote smell of freshness. The Dust Bunnies baby Quail walk at birth & learn from both parents survival on the desert floor. Zip a Costa Hummingbird checks in with pollen on his bill. We wake all the sense…

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If we pause to truly see, nature surrounds us, bringing us comfort if we allow ourselves to pause and welcome it's presence. It dwells within us and in everything from a minuscule bee to a pesky gnat, from a gorgeous flower to a weedy dandelion. Even though I avoid big cities, nature tries to be there too, in the osprey introduced to control maligned pigeons, in the hopping robin searching for worms in patches of grass. And of course nature shines in soaring mountains, in crashing ocean waves, in forests and in meadows. But for those of us who have loved horses all our lives, we are privileged indeed to look into equine eyes and see the wisdom and lessons…

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