Native Wild Spaces

From 2017 to Present

Artists are intrinsically tied to the land and I am no exception. Instead of painting large expansive landscapes, I have always been drawn to places and spaces in between that are more intimate and detailed. These are the native wild spaces that are often overlooked because they are messy or hidden but no less important. There is magic in the chaos.

watercolor of native Gray Dogwood in autumn, white berries, leaves turning cranberry and deep purple

Where The Catbird Sings

I never know what will catch my eye during my morning walks. Surprises that stop me in my tracks keep me in the moment just as every living thing around me is doing right now.

Often I don’t know the names of the plants that grab my attention. Is it native is the first question followed by please don’t let me fall in love with an invasive species again! There is conflict and controversy to be found there.

A little research tells me this is indeed a native, the Gray Dogwood which happens to be anything but gray this autumn morning. The gray reference is denoting its bark. Not very imaginative in naming, right?

As it turns out, Gray Dogwood is a very adaptable shrub and excellent for naturalizing complex sites such as ponds and stream banks. It blooms creamy white clusters of flowers in May followed by white berries in late summer. Birds such as flicker, tanger, woodpeckers, and catbirds all enjoy and quickly eat the Grey Dogwood’s fruit. The Grey Dogwood also makes for an ideal shelter and nesting habitat.

Turning the Gray Dogwood into a tapestry of watercolor has been one of my more time-consuming projects. Seven weeks in the making. I was lost in the woods.

Watercolor on 300lb 100% Cotton Hot Press Fabriano Paper
Image: 24 x 18” Framed: 36 x 30.5”
2022 © Kristin Maija Peterson

watercolor in vibrant green-blue showing a wild suburban backyard landscape allowed to grow wild a love story and call for restoring natural habitats

A Little Chaos

This is a love story about a small section of suburbia, a backyard we intentionally let go wild that belonged to a house we were renting. This wasn’t because were were irresponsible tenants. The fact was the backyard terrain was too dangerous to mow. What may have seemed like neglect to others was for me my secret “wild” garden.

Professional grade watercolors on 300 lb. Fabriano Hotpress Paper.
Image: 29.25” x 21 Framed: 40 x 32”
2023 © Kristin Maija Peterson


Native Wild Spaces I prairie plants series

After The Frost

large scale 22.5 x 30 inch watercolor of two native wildflowers after the frost has transformed their appearance isolated on white background

The Russet Sisters


I’m fascinated by how frost transforms plants. Often, I can’t tell who they are after a cold snap has rearranged their leaves and petals. It’s their second act at beauty only nature could orchestrate.

Lebanon Hills Regional Park is a favorite hiking-exploring spot and never fails to offer more than a few inspirations on any given venture. Discovering The Russet Sisters, as I call them, I knew they would be the start of a new series I have been thinking and writing about.

Are ready to embrace one another or are in the middle of a sibling squabble? You might not be able to see from the watercolor, but sister on the right is holding the tiniest of twigs in one of her brackets.* Her frozen posture made a cavity for a spider to spin her web traced by drops of dew clinging to its latticework.

Both sisters have a flower head, now bare and obscured, that looks as if they are “with child.” This could be my mind finding a connection between humans and the natural world. Other times, they look like raging dragons.

*People think of a flower by its petals. But it’s the center part where the pollen and sex organs reside that’s the flower. Petals are glorified and colorful brackets designed to lure bees and other pollinators.

Watercolor on 300 lb. Fabriano HotPress Watercolor Paper.
22.5 x 30” Currently Unframed; Framed Size Estimate: 32 x 40”
2024 © Kristin Maija Peterson

The Crown

Watercolor + Graphite Pencil on
300lb. 100% Cotton Fabriano Watercolor Paper.
Image: 22 x 15” Framed: 31.75 x 23.75” I $2300
2019 © Kristin Maija Peterson

Lady in Waiting

Watercolor + Graphite Pencil on
300lb. 100% Cotton Fabriano Watercolor Paper.
22” x 15” I Unframed I $1500
2019 © Kristin Maija Peterson


Watercolor + Graphite Pencil on
300lb. 100% Cotton Fabriano Watercolor Paper.
34.5” x 27.5.” I Framed I $1700
2019 © Kristin Maija Peterson

About This Series

There is something about wild native plants and the metamorphosis that happens after the frost has done them in that makes them amazingly beautiful. I wanted to illuminate wild native plants in a higher light as they perform many vital services even in death. They may have seeds for birds to feed on throughout the winter and their hollowed stems can be a place for beneficial insects to hibernate. Holding the soil with their deep roots, they keep it from washing away when the snow melts in spring. Their decaying bodies return to the soil, nurturing it for the next generation of wild native plants.

Native Wild Spaces I non-human architects

What Animals Create


Graphite Pencil on 300lb.
100% Cotton Fabriano Watercolor Paper.
22” x 15” I Unframed I NFS
2018 © Kristin Maija Peterson

Temporary Housing

Graphite Pencil on 300lb. 100% Cotton
Fabriano Watercolor Paper.
Image: 15 x 22” I  Framed: 35 x 27.635” I $1700
2018 © Kristin Maija Peterson

Collateral Beauty

Graphite Pencil on 300lb. 100% Cotton
Fabriano Watercolor Paper.
Image: 15 x 22” I  Framed: 35 x 27.635” I $1700
2018 © Kristin Maija Peterson


Mobile Home

We are just beginning to learn about the emotional and intellectual lives of animals. Not just mammals but invertebrates like squid and octopus have them, too. (Watching the documentary film My Octopus Teacher is a testament to this).

Who is to say a simple common snail wouldn’t want to adorn her shell? As if inspired by William Morris’ designs and philosophy that we should all be surrounded by beautiful things to improve one’s well-being, she more aptly took from her surroundings, the delicate fern and mosses, wrapping them around her home just so.

Graphite Pencil on 300lb. 100% Cotton Fabriano Watercolor Paper.
Image: 23 x 20.5” Framed: 36 x 33.5”
2020 © Kristin Maija Peterson

Humans aren’t the only creatures who build or create things. I wanted to take an up-close look at the things animals build, from the galls that insects make out of goldenrod stems (as in Nursery), to bird nest design to a warning about invaders like Japanese Beetles (as in Collateral Beauty). Each of these is drawn upwards of 300% of the subject’s actual size and each piece took over 60 hours to complete.

large detailed drawing of bull thistle flower head by kristin maija peterson


This was produced for a unique exhibition, IN YOUR ELEMENT organized and curated by The Natural Heritage Project. Artists selected for the exhibit were provided a GPS location to travel to and to commit at least one hour in the setting they designated to observe. After time spent “in their element,” artists were asked to create a work of art based on their observations, including research, and prepare a written statement about their experience and findings.

My GPS location took me to Standing Cedars Community Land Conservancy, south of Osceola, Wisconsin. This land is protected by a nonprofit organization led by St. Croix Valley residents committed to protecting and preserving the incredible quality and diverse biomes of the Lower St. Croix uplands from over development and for future generations.

The specific spot at the land conservancy I was observing is called Buffalo Skull. That made me tingle. While I was there, in the quiet hum of insects and crickets, I swear my first visions was buffalo (lots of buffalo) that roamed a century before.

If I were to go back, I may have done a composition of large buffalo grazing. But that’s not the direction of my work. Instead I was drawn to the underside of dried bull thistles that made me think of woven baskets. Baskets for holding, gathering, giving, and receiving. Reciprocity. Indeed, the land had been rescued from agricultural use and appeared to be resting.

Because of its sandy rocky soils and seed resources, that land has reverted, supporting a surprising number of native species. We take care of the land and the land takes care of us. Think what you will about bull thistles. Some argue they are invasive. Others love the big puffs of purple bloom thistles produce.

Thistles could be the symbol of reciprocity. In exchange for a place on this earth they are noteworthy for their high wildlife value, producing copious floral resources for pollinators, nourishing seeds for birds, like goldfinches, foliage for butterfly larvae, and down for lining birds’ nests.

Graphite Pencil on 300lb 100% Cotton Hot Press Fabriano Watercolor Paper.
Image: 21 x 27” I Framed: 29  x 34”
© Kristin Maija Peterson / 2019

Giving Back.

10% of all Terra Kind Studio Co.’s annual art sales are donated to nonprofits devoted to environmental and climate change issues.
By supporting my work as an artist, you’ll have nature’s beauty dressing your walls while doing good in the world.

All artwork is the sole property of Kristin Maija Peterson and is held under copyright, even after purchase. The images, artwork, and contents of this website may not be copied, collected, or used for personal or professional gain without written permission from Kristin Maija Peterson. All images of artwork, sold or otherwise, are retained by Kristin Maija Peterson.


Terra Kind Studio showcases the creative work of visual artist and designer Kristin Maija Peterson. Growing up among prairies, lakes, rivers, and oak savannas along with her project work with environmental organizations have collectively influenced her creative path. Kristin works in watercolor, graphite, color pencil, oil pastels, and pen and ink, interpreting in detail the beautiful chaos she finds in native wild spaces and its inhabitants who call these spaces home. Kristin sees all living creatures as kin and is always kind to spiders.

Be Kind to Everything That Lives.

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