Week of May 14, 2023 – May 20, 2023
by Bridget Jones, Environmental Educator
In spring, nature’s constant process of change is on full display. Wildflowers bloom, fade away, and are replaced in quick succession, visited by busy insects in every shape and color. Walking through the woods, you may catch a glimpse of a toad beneath the leaves, a brightly-colored warbler high in the canopy, or a butterfly darting across a field. Among the rapid movement of spring, one of my favorite ways to slow down and focus on the beauty of nature is through art.
Drawing and painting focuses my attention on the shapes, patterns, and colors of nature. When I begin sketching, I notice details that I hadn’t seen at first glance, like the incredible symmetry of spots on a moth’s wings. Watercolor painting is another process of discovery, as searching for the right color can reveal subtle and unexpected shades. A spotted salamander, which had appeared brown when I first saw it, turned out to have delicate blue highlights on its underside. Without slowing down and focusing my attention, I might have missed these fascinating and beautiful details.
Art can also be a form of scientific observation, helping us learn more about nature and pay attention to its patterns and cycles. Spending time drawing a plant or animal makes me want to learn about its life and place in the larger natural community. Pairing observation with art, such as through a nature journal, is one way to track patterns in nature over days, months, or years. Especially in a quickly-changing season like spring, art can preserve a record of nature’s transformation.
There are infinite ways to connect with nature through art. Drawing and painting help me notice small details in nature, but art can also provide connection to broader landscapes or help express the feeling of being immersed in nature. Whether working with pencils, pens, paint, or other media such as fabric, clay, or materials from nature itself, art can give us a new perspective and a deeper connection with nature. How does being in nature spark your creativity?