Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Nature Art Inspiration

We love nature as a part of art. Several great artists, such as Chelsey Bahe, Patrick Dougherty, and Andy Goldsworthy use natural loose parts for art. Natural materials are used with artistic elements to create nature play scenes, whimsical stick creations, and just for the moment nature art. Mandalas are also a fun and easy way to explore loose parts!

We often will look at artwork by these artists from the following books and then try our own hand at creating whatever comes to mind. 

1. Take 'em Outside--Chelsey Bahe does great work! Several times a week, she leaves artistic creations on stumps along the trail at a nature center. People now specifically watch for her new creations. She adds pictures of them to her Facebook page. She is a huge play advocate and encourages following the child's lead outside.

2. Heart Stones--This collection of hearts made of stones and rocks is inspiration to keep looking for art in nature, without even having to make it ourselves. Art is in nature if we will but look for it.

3.   Andy Goldsworthy's Work-- Goldsworthy has several books and a couple of documentaries about his work. His art is made with elements he finds in nature and manipulates to some degree, using artistic design principles for his creations. His art is ephemeral and will not last long; however, they have been captured by photographers for our inspiration. I first found this book many years ago and knew I needed one. I've used it over and over again!

The work itself determines the nature of its making. I enjoy the freedom of just using my hands and ‘found’ tools – a sharp stone, the quill of a feather, thorns. I am not playing the primitive. I use my hands because this is the best way to do most of my work. If I need tools, then I will use them. Technology, travel and tools are part of my life and if needed should be part of my work also. A camera is used to document, an excavator to move earth, snowballs are carried cross country by articulated truck.       --Andy Goldsworthy
4. Stickwork by Patrick Dougherty--I think I absolutely love this because I was able to work side by side with Patrick on one of his creations. I enjoyed the process and love his whimsical stick work. Since we have ample sticks, this is great eye candy as we get started with outdoor creations. Read about our adventures here.

Sticks are something we all have in common. Everybody knows sticks – the twigs and branches picked up on grandfather’s farm; the branches woven in grandmother’s basket. Somewhere threaded in all the public mass is a common thread, and that thread is the human spirit.  --Patrick Dougherty

5. Natural: Simple Land Art through the Seasons--I really like the simple, seasonal nature of the land art in this book. This seems more doable for kids, though is a great study in lines, textures, and natural elements.

6. Land Art in Town by Marc Pouyet--I love how this books shows art and nature in whimsical spots in town. While I enjoy "deep nature", nature is all around us wherever we may be.

7. Nature's Art Box--This is a collection of many crafty activities that could be made from nature.

8. Land Art for Kids is a website with instructions and many examples for creating land art. 
The author says, "Land art for me begins with seeing the world and nature through child’s eyes, I am grateful that it is something I have never lost. Making natural sculptures allows me to indulge a little longer in that child’s world. Whether you are proficient or just dabbling, an adult or a child, making a sculpture or just kicking through fallen leaves, it is all the same to me. It’s all about being outside experiencing all nature has to offer." Richard Shilling, Land Art for Kids

9. The Organic Artist--This guy makes all his own art supplies from nature! I love this. An easy way is to make your own "carbon" for drawing with the sticks from the campfire. My kids already do this.

A few blog posts you may like:
Natural Weaving


Friday, January 12, 2018

Nature Book Club for Adults

I have hosted a nature centered book group, along with others, for the last several years. We've had a lot of opportunities to read books on nature! Here is our list, plus a few wild parenting books I enjoy. We found that meeting every other month worked best for us. We also liked mixing up some nature related fiction with the heavier non-fiction books on our list. We also would just have a topic at times and each person chose an article or book related to the topic. We all brought ideas to our meeting near the end of the year and looked up reviews on Amazon, trying to balance out local books, seasonal books, books on particular topics, etc., while getting something everyone was interested in. Checking the local library for availability is helpful. What are your favorite nature books for adults?

"Wild" Parenting Books
There's No Such Thing as Bad Weather by Linda McGurk
Balanced and Barefoot by Angela Hanscom
How to Raise a Wild Child by Dr. Scott Sampson
Play the Forest School Way by Peter Houghton and Jane Worroll
Beyond Ecophobia by David Sobel
Wild Play: Parenting Adventures in the Great Outdoors by David Sobel
Handbook of Nature Study
Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv
Whatever the Weather
Coyote's Guide to Connecting with Nature

Ranger Confidential: Living, Working, and Dying in the National Parks
Plain ol' Charlie Deam
An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power
Lab Girl
In the Watershed: A Journey Down the Maumee River
Anything on Pollinators

any book on vernal pools
Wandering Home
Hidden Life of Trees
Braiding Sweetgrass
The Snow Child

JanThe Daily Coyote, Shreve Stockton
FebGuide to Caves and Karsts in Indiana
Mar. Natural Heritage of Indiana
Apr. The Secret Life of Backyard Bugs
May Any Foxfire book
June 100 Heartbeats, Jeff Corwin
July What the Robin Knows
Aug. Gray Mountain, John Grisham
Sept. The Lost Art of Reading Nature’s Signs
Oct. A Walk in the Woods, Bryson
Nov. Birdology, Sy Montgomery
Dec. Voices in the Ocean, Casey
Past Nature Reads
Guide to Nature in Winter by Donald and Lillian Stokes
Anthill by E.O. Wilson
Moonbird by Phillip Hoose
any book about wildflowers
Lost Woods by Rachel Carson
Great Possessions: An Amish Farmer’s Journal by David Kline and Wendell Berry
Tom Brown’s Field Guide to Nature Observation and Tracking
Living on the Wind: Across the Hemisphere with Migratory Birds by Scott Weidensaul
Autumn: Season of Change by Peter Marchand
Running Dry: A Journey From Source to Sea Down the Colorado River by Jonathan Waterman
The Forest Unseen: A Year’s Watch in Nature by David Haskell
any book about nature photography, such as Ansel Adams, John Shaw, Muench, etc.
Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv
Bringing Nature Home by Douglas W. Tallamy
A Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leopold
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Mammals of the Great Lakes Region by Allen Kurta
Girl of the Limberlost by Gene Stratton-Porter
(included a field trip to the state historic site with a tour of her gardens and home)
Life in the Soil by James B. Nardi
The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals by Michael Pollan
America as Seen by its First Explorers: The Eyes of Discovery by John Bakeless
Never Cry Wolf: Amazing True Story of Life Among Arctic Wolves by Farley Mowat
Keepers of the ___________ by Michael J. Caduto and Joseph Bruchac
(Native American traditional stories, combined with ways to teach nature and environmental education. We’ll all read one chapter of one of the books to present and share.)
Winter World: The Ingenuity of Animal Survival by Bernd Heinrich
Walden: (Or Life in the Woods) by Henry David Thoreau
Alone: The Journey of the Boy Sims by Alan K. Garinger
The Bluebird Effect: Uncommon Bonds with Common Birds by Julie Zickefoose
The Dunes, any book based loosely on the Indiana Dunes, such as Dune Country: A Hiker’s Guide To The Indiana Dunes, The Dune CountryDune Boy: The Early Years of a Naturalist, or Diana of the Dunes (IN): The True Story of Alice Gray.
The Trees by Conrad Richter
Pond and Brook: A Guide to Nature in Freshwater Environments by Michael J. Caduto
A Conservationist Manifesto by Scott Russel Sanders
The Nature Principle: Reconnecting with Life in a Virtual Age by Richard Louv
Wild Edibles–You Pick!
A Field Guide to Edible Wild Plants: Eastern and central North America (Peterson Field Guides)Stalking The Wild Asparagus
The Forager’s Harvest: A Guide to Identifying, Harvesting, and Preparing Edible Wild Plants
The Herb Book
Dawn Light: Dancing with Cranes and Other Ways to Start the Day by Diane Ackerman
Any book by John Muir–You pick!
Art of the Earth: Ancient Arts for a Green Future by Elizabeth Hyatt or other Environmental Art related book

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