Nature as Inspiration

Ask any artist and you’re likely to be told that they’re inspired by nature.  It’s a given.  Nature is full of wonder and for artists it provides an impetus to create.  We see color, line, form and texture and it gets incorporated into our drawing, painting, and sculpting.

When Robin and I moved onto our 20 acres of woodlands, we immediately began sculpting the landscape by adding shrub borders, flowers and vines.  We relied heavily, though not exclusively on native species in order to support an abundance of wildlife.  Using the “architecture” of the rolling landscape and the tall trees we were blessed with, we’ve created habitat for more pollinators–bees, butterflies, moths, and birds.  We’ve added water features for amphibians, reptiles, dragonflies and fish.  Brush piles in various places in the deep woods provide habitat for mammals.  It’s all good for the health of the environment.

A walk through the “yard” area (approximately 3.5 acres) surrounding the house and studios will give you glimpses of countless species of birds, lizards, amphibians, fish and mammals.  The sights, sounds and smells provide a soothing experience of nature at its best.  We can not help but be inspired to create work that embodies the balance, texture, colors and forms of Mother Nature.  Our collaborative work is all about these things.  It is a discipline based on meditation.  From the crackled surface of the pond mud to the bark on the trees:

Touching Trees

Daily I watch the trees that form a cathedral in our yard.  I love them, I feel safe, in their arms and standing on their roots, shaded and cloaked from the outside world’s harshness.  I’m grateful for those trees, inspired by them and in awe of their beauty and strength.  Season after season I see how they grow, how they respond to their neighbor plants, the weather and ultimately the climate.

I was thinking that I rarely touch the trees, really.  I toss firewood around (we heat both of our very large studios with wood from our 20 acres),  pick an occasional fruit or flower from a tree, or sometimes trim a limb.  But that’s not the kind of touching I mean.  I’m referring to feeling the essence of this living, breathing, digesting, growing, decaying giant.

The other day I communed with one of our large Shagbark Hickorys.  I find this process most helpful:  Placing your bare hands, fingers pointing upwards, against the bark of the trunk at shoulder height, look up the length of the tree, lean slightly into the tree, then close your eyes and allow yourself to feel the energy, the power surging through the tree. After maintaining this stance a comfortable period of time, open your eyes to the stairway to heaven.  This time, you can see more detail and complexities of the bark and crown and branching and clustering of leaves when they’re present.

I like to be reminded of the sanctity of life, of the natural order and of the interconnectedness of everything in the Universe. We’ve lived and worked here in these private woods for 24 years.  When you do that, you become very aware of how much the landscape changes, not just the seasonal changes, but how much living, growing and dying factually goes on and how it changes the character of the landscape vignettes.  And not just in the plant-life, but the very earth itself.  Valleys deepen and widen, waterways change course, hillsides shrink.  The landscape is alive.

That life spirit of the landscape is what is inspiring to so many artists, including ourselves.  It’s about monumental forms, lines, light, color, texture, fractals.  It’s more than one mind could ever comprehend.  It’s an endless muse.  It can draw us outside ourselves to see how we fit into the all-inclusive tale of The Gaia Theory.

Here’s a link to a useful article on the benefits of tree-hugging:


Incredible Window

We’ve long recognized how much influence nature has on our work.  The textures and colors of the woodlands, meadows and skies are so inspiring.  Robin and I have lived in the woods together for 23 years now.  It is a constant source of inspiration, solace, meditation and connection to the great beyond.  We spend as much time as possible immersed in the outdoors, but when we’re inside the views from all of our windows are outstanding.  One window in particular is magical.  Each hour of each day, through all the seasons, the view from this window is amazing.  Processions of flowers just outside the panes, attract butterflies and hummingbirds.  In the evenings you can watch the bats flying over the gardens devouring mosquitos.  Native shrubs and ornamental trees edge the space that is defined by the Gothic Cathedral of the tall hardwood trees.  Winter sunsets are spectacular through the forest lace.  Each time you step up to the view it lifts your heart and mind.  Much of that experience gets woven into the surfaces of our work.

window view