This blog post comes from Laura Myers, Learning and Education Lead for the Ontario Parks Discovery Program.
Provincial parks are powerful places full of inspiring elements. They have inspired artists for countless generations and continue to attract artists from near and far.
The key to being inspired by nature 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 participating in an art immersion day.
Observing the art of nature.
They started with a hike along the Mountain Portage Trail, a 1km loop trail with lookouts that provide stunning views of Kakabeka Falls and the Kaministiquia River Valley.
Students were guided to observe and focus on elements and principles of art as they relate to nature. From nature’s color palette to natural patterns, textures, movements and perspectives, students became attuned to 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 when they reached the next viewpoint, the eagle flew over the river and went up and over the falls.
Noticing how the eagle soared effortlessly, observing the contrast between the eagle and the sky, and enjoying the panoramic view of a powerful eagle soaring over Kakabeka Falls was a special moment.
It’s not every day we get to experience this kind of moment. These moments ignite the creativity within us and make us feel more connected to the environment around us.
Strengthen our relationship with nature
The act of creating nature-based art can also strengthen our relationship with nature.
Art allows you to stop, think, feel and express your ideas and stories.
Whether 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 us with inspiration for art, but it can also provide us with natural canvases.
It was only fitting that students would be provided a natural canvas to express their creativity.
Each student was given a tree cookie (a cross section of a tree trunk or branch) as a canvas.
The rings of a tree tell the story of its life and the natural events it experienced. Like tree rings, art can be a way to tell stories through the eyes of an artist.
Take the time to create
After spending time outdoors observing and discussing different elements, principles, techniques, materials and types of art, students gathered at the park’s Visitor Center to create their own nature-based art.
As the students drew and painted, they shared stories with each other.
They learned from each other by observing and trying different techniques, sharing where their inspiration came from, and listening to each other’s stories.
An open-air gallery
Once the students finished painting their tree cookies, the group headed back out to display their work in an outdoor gallery.
The students and teachers carefully hung their pieces on the trees to share their work with the entire group.
Check out his outdoor gallery:
Let nature be your guide
Art is universal. It can unite people from all walks of life.
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 to find inspiration.
Discovery Rangers are available in numerous locations across the province to deliver school programs in our parks, your classroom or schoolyard, or via video conferencing.
Designed to enrich and expand Ontario’s K-12 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 the natural and cultural heritage of Ontario.
To request information about Discovery School programs available in your community, please Send us an email.