Monday, February 6, 2017

Artistry in nature

By Beth Sullivan

Nature has always inspired me, and in many different ways. For centuries artists have been inspired by great vistas: far horizons, mountains, oceans, sky-scapes and sweeping prairies. We still are.

Seeing the visual beauty, artistry in nature up close, takes a little more effort - stopping, bending, stooping, kneeling - but brings great rewards. The area we live in is blessed with beautiful scenery, just begging to be photographed and painted. Sometimes though, this tends to make us see the forest, and not the trees, or the bark and the buds on the trees. The very closeness of nature is often astounding in in its beauty, texture, patterns. You just HAVE to look close.
Even in the winter woods, this evergreen Rattlesnake Orchid displays its beautifully patterned leaves.
Carpenter Ants leave a honeycomb of beautifully made chambers.

So this week I challenge you to look closer than the forest, look closer than the tree. The winter is actually a good time to look beyond the distraction of beautiful flowers that come later. Now is the time to see some of the “bones” of the landscape: trees, rocks, ice and snow. There are also hardy green mosses, lichens, and evergreens to find if you are not happy with gray tones. As you walk along a trail or even in your own yard, look for those inspiring things that you might otherwise miss if you always look to the farther horizon. If you are so inclined, try to capture the close-up with a camera, or make a sketch. You need to really look close, dissect the elements, understand how your subject is created, if you plan to sketch or paint. Once you do, you will never forget it.

Spend some time to go slowly and look very close. It may truly influence how you take your walks forever. Have fun.

The heart of a cedar tree. Every center is unique.

Ice that forms on shallow water along brooks and puddles often makes very special designs. 

Look at this in multi-levels - the color of the stones, the transparency of the water, and the patterns the water makes. A challenge to paint.

Looking to Spring, we wait for the Fiddleheads to unfurl their beautiful spirals. 

Sometimes a pattern reveals a secret- that the rows of holes were made by a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker.
Photographs by Beth Sullivan.

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