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Inspiration Takes Flight May 22, 2012  |  By Jane Lavino

John James Audubon’s “Grand Idea” was to paint every bird in North America in life-sized dramatic action. He succeeded with over 400 paintings of bird life known at the time. It took 18 years of monumental effort.

At the Jackson Hole Eco Fair I listened to twelve-year-old Olivia Bouler, of NY describe her grand idea. Olivia loves birds. She was devastated when she heard of the massive 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Inspired by her hero, Audubon, Olivia started painting birds to give to people who donated to the Audubon Society. 500 paintings later, Olivia has raised $200,000 for the clean-up effort.

I asked Olivia if she had grown tired of birds as subject matter by now. She said no, she is even more interested and motivated now. She sees how much better her paintings have become and she has been able to make a difference.

Practice makes perfect, and art inspires action. Thank you, Olivia, for reminding me how powerful these simple truths can be.

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