As I look out the triangular window of my yurt studio, the light dims and the surrounding mountains begin turning a royal blue. The Blue Ridge Mountains covering the horizon change to splashes of color, adding inspiration to my evening of creating art.
Turning to look around, my gaze follows a sea of art covering the soft walls of my yurt studio. My thoughts turn to when my husband Jerry and I built the yurt deck and settled into this cove in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Having a great desire to live simply, become sustainable and to give to, not take from, the earth- the yurt totally fit my need for a creative art studio. First of all, there is no reason to rip up the earth to setup a yurt. The Mongolians, over 2,000 years ago, in Central Asia knew this when they developed their portable homes called “gers.” Our Americanization of the word “ger” has changed the name to yurt. The Mongolians built their ger homes to withstand the high winds of the Turban Desert, the snow of the Tian Shan Mountains with the versatility of design for constant movement to more fertile grounds. The Mongolians believe that the spirit of the house is contained in the door threshold and it is a great offense to step directly on it. The interior walls are decorated with Persian rugs, wall hangings with colorful scenes and soft flat pillows for beds. All of the Mongolian’s wealth is displayed in their ger, making their homes strikingly beautiful.
Architectural Digest magazine calls the yurt an “architectural wonder,” for the yurt is remarkably strong (without a central post in a circular structure), yet lightweight and portable. The yurt is considered one of the strongest and most resource efficient structures ever designed.
Americans have brought to the simple round beauty of the yurt design even more refinement... an opening skylight, tall walls, large windows and high quality weather resistant cotton canvas walls. It stays warm in the winter and cool in the summer and the structure can collapse down into a size small enough to fit easily into the back of my pickup truck. Yurts (gers) were built 2,000 years ago for a simple life-style that embraces nature. Today many Mongolians still live the same way, as do my husband Jerry and I.
Back here at Nature’s Home Preserve in the Appalachian Mountains, my yurt studio fits into the hillside on stilts which hold up the pine deck. The yurt nestles into the lush forests with little disturbance to the natural environment. During the day light filters through the walls and windows creating an uplifting space to be in. The soft, white walls and ceiling gives the feeling of a giant, comfortable pillow. Painting art in here is a natural experience. Peace within this structure allows my art to come to the art board spontaneously.
These backwoods have changed the way my art has expanded. Once an illustrator of finely detailed biological and medical drawings, I now am open to the freedom of large paintings that tell a story of the people and culture of these mountains. Inspiration swirls around me, throughout the yurt space and lands right on the surface of my paintings. I have now become the folk artist, honoring my heritage, thanks to a Mongolian structure gone Appalachian!
To see pictures of some of my art click on Photoblog: http://yurtstudio.com/myblog/blog4.php