Sunday, March 14, 2010

Creating Nature Art

We had a wonderful restorative time in the Outer Banks!  The weather was not-to-be-believed-beautiful!  We had a day and a half of bad weather with lots of rain - perfect excuse to stay inside and read and cook good meals and hang out together.  The rest of the time was gorgeous!  Sunny, 60 degrees, comfortable, not too breezy.  We did a lot of walking on the beach - Chris went for a five hour walk one day - boy, was he sore the next!

One day we walked a long way into the National Park.  We found a huge 35' tall pine tree that had been washed up onto the shore - WAY up!  All the bark was stripped off, and it was almost driftwood - except for the roots which still had bark on them - that's how I could identify it.  There was a knife stuck in it, so Chris carved our names into the tree - my first!  Then I began doing an Andrew Goldsworthy.  (If you don't know who he is, check out his work.  It's amazing!  He's an artist who works in nature, taking natural elements and creating order out of them.  The picture here is one of his.)  What I did was nowhere near as interesting as that, but I had fun!  I began gathering up debris on the beach - both natural and unnatural - and decorating the tree.  We stuck plastic bottles on the roots and plastic bottle caps all over like Christmas ornaments.  I hung found rope around the branches like garlands.  There were 100's of birds' feathers which I stuck out of the roots every which way, then I lined the long straight trunk with 100 shells in a straight line. It was so absorbing to modify nature by embellishing it with its own beauty along with mankind's trash.  Sadly, I didn't have my camera with me, so I can't show what it looked like, but below are some pictures from other Nature Art sessions I've taken part in.

The first is from the summer at The Clearing in Amelia County.  It's a Quaker retreat place where I go sometimes for weekends just to be away from it all.  There are many acres of beauty.  Chris and I often go there today.  One time we spent an afternoon creating art...  The sticks you see there are wrapped in green spring leaves.

One of the most fun times I had making nature art was in April at a Contact Improvisation Jam at Claymont in West Virginia.  I used to go there 2-3 times/year to dance for 4 or 5 days at a time.  It was fantastically fun!  One time we watched the Andy Goldsworthy video then the next day went out and played in nature for several hours.  Folks would walk along as we were doing it and join us or gawk or admire.  It was wonderful.  Here are several pictures from then:

I'm very taken with the difference between these two pictures of the rock circle.  They're at the exact same time of day.  All that changed is the angle from which I took the shot.  Andrew Goldsworthy plays with the change in light a lot too.
Circles seemed to be a thing for us that day.
Our friends liked the rock circle too!
Some of these are subtle.  Can you find our contribution in this one?

I was fascinated by the dandelions which were in great profusion at that time of year - April.  I made them into chains and bunches and strings and patterns and anything else I could think of.
Another woman hung hers from a tree.  Delightful!
If the rocks could talk, what would they be saying now?

The third time I really enjoy making Nature Art was when I led a workshop in January at a Quaker Women's Retreat.  I showed bits of Andrew Goldsworthy's video then we all went outside and made stuff.  It was cool to see how intent everyone got.  Afterwards many people came out to take a look and to delight at the many creations.

The circle was again a compelling shape to create.

Perhaps you can tell from the light that it was cold and clear this January day, but that didn't stop people from creating.  The available materials were sparse - nothing was blooming, almost everything was dormant, but still people found beauty and creativity abounding.

And yet another season: Fall - October.  This time I was at Dayspring Retreat Center for a Silent Retreat with the Quakers.  (I used to go to a LOT of retreats!  Back in the days when I was single and had weekends without my kids and needed something to keep me busy so I wouldn't miss them!)

Fall leaves are my favorite - there's so much you can do with the blazing colors.
This was contributed by Mother Nature herself.  No arrangements necessary on my part.  Same for the pictures below.  They were just waiting for me to notice.  That's the wonderful thing about Silent Retreats - I take the time to notice because there are no distractions.  Pure silence, out in nature, time to think and feel and notice.  Ahhhhhhhhhhh.

So now are you inspired to go out and make something beautiful where you live? On the street, in the back alley, in your garden? Wherever you are, you can find or create a pattern. Chances are, once you start, people will want to join you. It's a very solitary pursuit, but it does tend to engage others in wonderful ways. I'd love to see pictures of anything you create! Have fun!

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