This blog post comes from Laura Myers, a Learning and Education Leader with the Ontario Parks Discovery Program.
Provincial parks are powerful places filled with inspiring elements. They have inspired artists for countless generations and continue to draw artists from near and far.
The key to tapping into nature for inspiration is spending time immersed in the natural world and making observations, both big and small.
Earlier this winter, a group of Indigenous students from Dennis Franklin Cromarty High School in Thunder Bay visited Kakabeka Falls Provincial Park to find their own inspiration by taking part in an art-immersive day.
Observing nature’s art
They started with a hike on the Mountain Portage Trail, a 1 km loop trail featuring viewing pods that provide breathtaking views of Kakabeka Falls and the Kaministiquia River Valley.
The students were guided to observe and focus on elements and principles of art as they relate to nature. From nature’s colour palette to natural patterns, textures, movement, and perspectives, students tuned into the natural world.
Nature is constantly at work creating art. Taking time to notice changes, details, and moments in nature can spark inspiration!
During the hike, a Bald Eagle flew overhead and landed on a tall tree overlooking the river. The group took a long moment to appreciate the eagle’s presence.
The students continued along the trail and as they arrived at the next viewing pod, the eagle flew over the river and up and over the falls.
Noticing how the eagle flew effortlessly, observing the contrast between the eagle and the sky, and taking in the big picture view of a powerful eagle flying over Kakabeka Falls was a special moment.
It’s not every day we get to experience this kind of moment. These moments ignite creativity within us and make us feel more connected to the environment around us.
Strengthening our relationship with nature
The act of creating nature-based art can also strengthen our relationship with nature.
Art allows you to slow down, think, feel, and express your ideas and stories.
Whether it’s taking a photograph, making a sketch, writing a song, or creating a painting, art can be a way to capture a memory, experience, or feeling.
A natural canvas
Not only can nature provide inspiration for art, nature can also provide us with natural canvases.
It was only fitting that the students were provided with a natural canvas to express their creativity.
Each student was given a tree cookie (a cross-section of a tree trunk or branch) as their canvas.
The rings of a tree tell the story of its life and natural occurrences it endured. Just like the tree rings, art can be a way to tell stories through the eyes of an artist.
Taking time to create
After spending time outdoors, observing and discussing different elements, principles, techniques, materials, and types of art, students gathered in the park’s Visitor Centre to create their own nature-based art.
As students sketched and painted, they shared stories with each other.
They learned from each other by observing and trying different techniques, by sharing where their inspiration came from, and by listening to each other’s stories.
An outdoor gallery
Once the students were finished painting their tree cookies, the group went back outside to display their work in an outdoor gallery.
Students and teachers carefully hung their pieces in trees to share their work with the entire group.
Check out their outdoor gallery:
Let nature be your guide
Art is universal. It can bring people from all walks of life together.
Just as art can strengthen your relationship with nature, it can also strengthen your relationship with your community.
Wherever you are, let nature be your guide in finding inspiration.
Discovery Rangers are available at numerous locations across the province to deliver school programs in our parks, your classroom or schoolyard, or via video conference.
Designed to enrich and extend the K-12 Ontario Science and Social Studies Curricula, our school programs provide first-hand experiences that promote inquiry, problem solving, active learning, and responsible citizenship by connecting students directly with Ontario’s natural and cultural heritage.
To inquire about Discovery School Programs available in your community, please email us.