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Issue Date: July 2004 Issue

Touching Beauty

Jill Sell

Colored-pencil artist Barbara Krans Jenkins was in her back yard,sdrawing a frilly iris, when her neighbor wandered over. He looked at the picture, reached over her shoulder and atmempted to flick an insect off the paper with his hand. But the realistic-looking gnat wasn't going anywhere.

It was part of the drawing, which she ultimately titled "Blue Iris."

Tiny, sometimes hidden insects are always a part of Krans Jenkins' wildlife and botanical drawings. The Akron artist credits her late uncle with opening her eyes to "the ecological balance" of nature that gives her drawings their beauty and strength.

Before mosquito season sets in, the 62-year-old Krans Jenkins can be found in Metro Parks, Serving Summit County and the Cuyahoga Valley National Park in search of chipmunks, cardinals, ladybugs, ants and violets, which have become favorite subjects.

To create a drawing such as "Chickadee-Dee-Dee," one of her favorites, Krans Jenkins studies twigs, leaves or flowers, all found in the same location, to ensure habitat accuracy. Often, she'll start with fine ink lines drawn on paper, which she covers with colored-pencil pigments. For variety, she occasionaly switches to oils.

Once, when the artist was sitting in her car studying her sketchpad, a raccoon came up to the car window. The animal looked at the drawing she had made, seemed to approve and went on its way.

"Drawing in the park allows me to heal, even when I don't know I need to heal," says Krans Jenkins. "I find such peace afterwards. The woods is my studio. It's what God has given me."

Krans Jenkins' work is showcased at the Lawrence Churski Gallery, 3850 Granger Road in Bath.

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