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Art and Nature

A solitary walk along the path. The air, not too warm to make a jacket uncomfortable but not too cool, with moments of walking in sunshine like a warm hug. A purpose for the walk---one that invites presence, attention and slowness.


double oak road trail at American Chestnut Land Trust

This photo is along the Double Oak Road Trail at the American Chestnut Land Trust (ACLT) in Calvert County, Maryland. ACLT provides free access to 22 miles of trails across a 3,400 acre preserve, plus many other programs. I signed up for the "Art for All Seasons" event for artists, which is what they are calling "plein air with a twist". Artworks have to be started at ACLT but can be completed in studio and goes through winter, spring, summer and fall with an exhibition of all the participating artists' works Sept. 28-Oct. 13 at the Annmarie Sculpture Garden & Arts Center. I have not done plein air painting before, but this "with a twist" is a great fit.


Noticing Nature's Art

When one goes on a hike, I'd like to think we're all paying attention to nature that surrounds us---hearing the birds sing and the leaves rustle, smelling the damp ground and the plants, feeling the wild air around us and our body's reaction to the exercise and natural world. But going on a hike with the intent of drawing or painting what you encounter, that brings another layer of paying attention. There's a whole host of quotes by artists and creatives conveying that art is about learning to see. I invite you to Google "art is learning how to see quote" for some wonderful quotes and inspiration. This one stood out to me:

"Learning to draw is really a matter of learning to see -- to see correctly-- and that means a good deal more than merely looking with the eye." -Kimon Nicolaides
yellow flowers in the woods
An early March hike showing the first signs of Spring.

metal gate along hiking path in the woods

I packed a backpack with water, a collapsable stool, and drawing supplies, and set out on a walk to draw what inspired me.


person sitting and drawing in the woods

drawing landscape scene with canoes

Connection to Creation

There are two distinct scenarios that I remember where I have felt a profound connection to God. One was on a hike at the Wichita Mountains at the end of a trail where there was a moment of overwhelming stillness standing on a large rock---no wind, no sound. I don't know how long we stood there or what my husband was doing, but I have kept the memory of that feeling of joy and connectedness.


The other has happened multiple times while painting outdoor murals. Usually, it's when I'm high off the ground on scaffolding or in a lift. I have this feeling of profound happiness and contentment---like in that moment I am the most in tune with the creative force of beyond, what I call God.


In a Richard Rohr's Daily Meditations email from last week, this statement really struck me: "...beauty for Franciscan theologians and philosophers is the ultimate and most intimate knowing of God, another name for God, the name for God." (read full meditation here.)


Art and nature are where I find the most meaning and where I find beauty. Is my painting of canoes life changing? Nope. But ever so slowly, I'm learning to settle into the realization that leaning in to what feels meaningful and where I feel I am the most "me" is the best way I can be connected to the creative force of life.


painting of canoes by a creek
"Early March Canoes" | acrylic on paper | 12x16 framed to 16x20
painting of fungi on tree limb in forest
"Funky Fungi" | acrylic on paper | 7x11 framed to 12x18

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Katie~ love your "Early March Canoes" What a great one for this series! Reading your words was so inspiring.

*** Plus, now I need to head back to the Wichita Mtns once more!

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Thank you! ❤️

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Guest
Mar 16

Katie, I enjoyed your article very much. Someday you will be a great artist. Love Nunner

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Excellent post! I very much enjoyed reading this. ❤️

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Thank you! ❤️

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