Why Nature and Art Go Hand in Hand
There is nothing new about the idea of combining art with nature. The great masters routinely took their sketchbooks and canvases to the outdoors and found inspiration in the landscapes around them.
When Leonardo Da Vinci sketched this Tuscan landscape, he wasn’t thinking much about how the act of being outside helped him develop his own creativity. He was thinking about the lines and how beautiful his surroundings were, and he just wanted to practice his skill and put it down on paper.
But, at the same time, he was breathing the fresh Italian air, hearing the wind sweeping down through the valley, looking at the light falling down on the green hills. He was age 21, and he had hiked up the mountain to survey the land below. The vigorous exercise and fresh air energized him, but unable to take a photo, he put his pencil to paper to capture the adventure he was in the middle of.
What’s interesting about Da Vinci’s landscapes is that his sketches never appear realistically in his paintings. Once he got home, the backgrounds of his paintings became creative expressions of his perception of nature, rather than the real thing. His imagination was unleashed!
At our house, when we create art, one of the first things we try to do is go outside. This does several things:
- It gets your child’s energy out before they sit down to do something quiet.
- It gives them an overload of information that they can’t get from a screen.
- It’s beautiful and inspiring and filled with interesting things to look at.
- The fresh air and exercise puts your child in a good mood.
It’s a good idea to offer a snack when you get home to refuel, and then dive right into the art project. It’s important to go outside even in the rain because your child learns two things: that there’s nothing wrong with a little water, and that parents can get messy and have fun too. Your example in getting outside and having fun is probably the best way to get your kids to stop complaining and just be.
When you’re outside, ask a lot of questions. This helps your child think about where they are and slows them down to pay attention to the details. You don’t have to have the answers to scientific facts. Your goal is to just get them thinking about their own opinion. For example:
- How many different kinds of leaves can you find?
- Are the leaves all the same color? Why do you think they are all different?
- Did you find anything eating the leaves? What else eats leaves?
- How big or small are the leaves?
Observation is a skill that is developed over time with lots of practice, and is something that will be useful to your child for the rest of their lives. Even though taking a walk in nature and asking a few questions seems simple, it has massive impacts on how your child sees the world.
The next step is just as important. Your child now has a library of information that helps fuel their imagination, and they can use their memory and creativity to make something by hand. Connecting their memories and thoughts with a physical project that they have to create themselves with their own hands creates neural pathways that no other activity can. Am I saying your kid will be smarter? I can’t guarantee that lol. But it might help your child be more focused and definitely helps develop their creativity.
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