This semester I am in a class titled Greenpiece; it’s half art history and half art studio. This past week we went on a nature walk after learning about early explorers of America. We learned how they were finding all these new [to them] plant and animal species and they had to document them, which led them to illustrating them. Therefore on our walk we were supposed to be like them; collect things we find interesting and do some sketches of things as well.
We weren’t allowed to use any sort of photography since early explorers couldn’t use photography either. When we got back to class we were told our assignment for the week was to do our own illustration of any item we brought back with us which seems pretty simple but there’s a catch: we can’t look the items up on the internet (so work from memory or the scraps brought back) and we are to try and use a calligraphy pen (a pen with a nib and ink).
I was overwhelmed… not by the assignment, but by all the options I had to draw. I had picked up so many cool things on the nature walk that I couldn’t decide which one I wanted to illustrate. I had this really cool star moss that I had picked with its root straggling but then since they had been uprooted for so long they closed so they were no longer stars. I had these yellow flower weeds that I think are beautiful; they’re all over the highways here and I just wanna always pick a bouquet of them, but I didn’t want to do those since a flower would be too cliché. Then I had a bunch of different sized ferns which I was stoked about because they’re like the perfect plant in how they grow symmetrically and such. When I got back to the classroom though I realized everyone had ferns so I couldn’t be mainstream, you know??? Instead I pressed the giant fern branch I had into a ceramic piece so the impression will last forever.
In the end I decided on a pine cone which sounds so simple, I realize, but I’ve always liked pine trees since my Dad planted my sister and I ones when we were little. I also specifically liked this tree because it had long pine needles. The illustration part of the project went okay. I drew my idea in pencil, then painted it in watercolors, and finally outlined it with the pen and ink. I feel as though my pine cone looks more real than any other thing in the piece but I almost think that was the point. That’s what I’m showcasing the rest is just there for understanding purposes in my eyes.
I had taken this class because well firstly the obvious, I like nature, and secondly because I wanted to possibly bring some nature in to art therapy at times. We all know nature is therapeutic so art therapy with nature would be a bonus. Just this past week in my art therapy internship class we did an experiential with the SOAR peers on campus using leaves. These are students on campus that are on the autism spectrum. We all made rubbings of leaves we brought in from outside and then we drew or wrote on top of the leaves what our favorite things to do in the fall were. Then we put them all together on a wreath for their classroom. This was a great experiential thought of by 2 of my classmates; it got everyone simply talking with each other which is kind of always the goal in the end, to get everyone sharing things about themselves.
I think nature is a common inspiration, not just for artists, but for all people, so we should take time to appreciate it more.