Beauty in Life and Death

Today after finishing a nice, pre-sunset run, something caught my eye. The sun was hitting the leaves just right, causing them to glow as they shimmered on their branch.

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As I continued to walk towards my house, I happened to notice a beautiful leaf on the ground. It had begun to develop beautiful spots dark spots–no longer part of its life source, yet still holding onto some of its color. It was breathtaking.

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Walking through an alley way, I discovered the beauty of a leaf as it became one with the earth.

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Nature in all stages offers such beauty. Take the time to enjoy it this week!

‘Til later…happy explorations!

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Speechless…Almost: First and Second Wonder Walks

So, I must confess, it is not until this moment that I realized how much I rely on my art to record and make sense of the natural world around me.

While on the one hand it is very liberating to enjoy the natural world with my natural eye, rather than through the lens of a camera—or touch the edge of an interesting leaf rather than drawing it in my sketchbook; I found myself desperate for SOMETHING–ANYTHING to record the fleeting moments, rather than enjoying and engaging them with my senses.

I have now taken two Wonder Walks. I could not have asked for a better, more artistically-inspiring start to my weekly wonder walks!

The first of my walks was a longer walk–on a sunny, relatively warm afternoon around Town Lake in Austin, Texas. What a beautiful day! The birds were EVERYWHERE, singing the beauty of the day. Now, if you’ve ever been to Austin, you know that when I say they were everywhere, I literally mean that there were more birds than leaves in the trees. My favorite moment of this wonder walk happened as I was crossing the river “lake.” I could smell fish, mixed with that smell of tires and humidity (one of my favorite smells, oddly enough). As I looked across the water, I saw a tree over flowing with small black birds. On of of the branches, in direct contrast to its surroundings sat this lovely, graceful white crane.

Such a gorgeous mental image.

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(Note: This photograph is NOT from my Wonder Walk…just meant to provide an image to go with my writing…)

My second wonder walk occurred yesterday. My husband and I spent in his family’s cabin–which we had to hike to, as my little Toyota isn’t the biggest fan of snow or ice. Despite the negative degree temperatures, we decided to venture outside to explore our frozen surroundings. Although my husband DID bring his camera, I stuck to my Wonder Walk rules. The beautiful forest terrain had been transformed into the winter’s version of the desert! The Wyoming winds had blown the frozen sand  snow, creating beautiful patterns and ridges. As I walked, my feet pressed into the surface of the frozen snow, forcing large circular patterns to break through the surface of the snow. Although it was cold, I enjoyed touching the snow and listening to the crunches and cracks as I walked through the forest!

Another lovely experience.

Now…what can I do with these experiences? How can I still conduct Artful Explorations once removed from those moments? Well, that is the challenge that I leave you with for this week!

Beginning with this week’s Wonder Walk, I plan to use my research journal as a place to react to my observations and interactions—write words or sentences in response to your explorations; draw pictures. Then, if you feel so inspired, create a work of art based on your explorations or reactions. I was so inspired by my first two walks…I look forward to exploring where those experiences will take me artistically!

‘Til later…happy explorations!

Nature and the Art of WRECKING!

What IS the art of wrecking, you might be asking yourself? Well, let me tell you…I have been asking myself that very same question over the last couple of months–after stumbling upon Keri Smith’s “Wreck This Journal.” After browsing the pages at a bookstore, and later returning to purchase Smith’s “How to be an Explorer of the World” (another highly recommended buy!), I decided that the “wrecking” activities in Smith’s journals could be PERFECTLY applied to artful explorations in nature (and the art classroom in general)!

 

Many, if not most art teachers have some sort of sketchbook for their students. These are often used for practice sketches, free draw activities, and notes. What if, instead (or along WITH) these sketchbooks, students had a Wreckbook for explorations? Once a week (or more) students would be given a prompt for one or two pages in their Wreckbook. This could be used for artful explorations in nature, or to just get creative juices flowing–maybe as a warm-up activity!

Here are a few pages from Smith’s book, complete with the prompts and one interpretation:

Some of her pages also provide more active prompts, such as taking your journal for a walk:

For the month of September, I will post about my attempts at creating and using “Wreckbooks” with my incredibly talented bunch of art students! Although I will be posting at random throughout the “Wreckbook” experience, September’s Nature Art Challenge (first week of September) will focus on exploring the natural environment through the art of journaling!

‘Til later…happy explorations!

*Note: No LIVING plants or animals will be harmed in the prompts for the “Wreckbook” experience 🙂