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3 Creative Ways to Grasp Nature

By Jonathan Chan-Choong. Posted on March 4, 2020 in Creativity

In the natural world, there is so much that captivates. Sometimes there are precious moments that we want to grasp onto, freeze framing a point and time using creative mediums such as paint, pastel, or photography.

Edvard Munch, Norwegian artist of The Scream, made it ever apparent that the art is one with nature and the soul, not simply a brush stroke, sketch, or photo.

Nature is not only all that is visible to the eye…
it also includes the inner pictures of the soul.

– Edvard Munch –

This essence can be found all throughout Cortes Island, with natural beauty at every turn. In one direction, you may find gorges and inlets hugging swimmers as they wade in the crystal waters; the next you’ll find immense mountains in the distance peeking above the clouds, like gentle giants waving good morning. In the early hours of the day, you may catch a glimpse of the spearlike rays of the rising sun, piercing through the forest branches, warming the dew drenched air.

It is almost as if the land calls artists to Hollyhock. These ethereal grounds, the unceded and ancestral territories of the Klahoose, Tla’amin, and Homalco First Nations, have brought many place-based creators to Hollyhock, to teach and share with other creativity junkies how to capture the natural moments of “right now” – the fleeting present.

Getting Started

We asked three of this year’s presenters a question, “What is one thing you look for in a natural landscape or subject before you start drawing, painting, or taking photos? Why is this so pivotal to initiating the process?”

This is what they had to say:

david mceown painting nature

Medium: Watercolour

“I look for the presence and life force of a natural landscape. Being a painter in watercolour, I start with observing and painting shapes that are created by the variations of light and dark colours in the subject. This spatial exercise quickly leads me into a state of being fully present and creatively engaged with the living landscape.”

Click to see David's watercolour painting

watercolour painting of the forest by David McEown

david shkolny pastel drawing

Medium: Soft pastel

“The first thing that draws me into creating a landscape is the composition. This is comprised of many things, but I mostly focus on a unifying format of foreground, midground and background. If it’s successful, it should give the viewer permission to enter and move around and explore.

Beyond that, an interesting arrangement of values, shapes, negative shape and colour temperatures will round things out. If these elements are looked for and found, I can really get into their emotive qualities  and enter into a zone of being vulnerable to what the painting asks me to do.”

Click to see David's pastel drawing

Pastel art - waterfall by David Shkolny

dr.-charles-steinberg
photo credit: Grazyna Charles

Medium: Film and Digital Photography

“The one thing, the one essential thing, the one critical thing, that I look for, is the light. I look to see where is the light – Where is the light doing something interesting?  Where is light vibrating, shimmering, fascinating?  I look for reflections, scintillations, and movement in the landscape.

How can I create a still image that shows motion in the light? The very same composition of the very same beauty in nature will work, or not work, depending on the light.  That is why, in general,  photographers look for images in the “golden hour”, a bit after sunrise or before sunset.”

Click to see Dr Charles' photography

whale tail in the sunlight

This “landscape” of the waters around Cortes Island with late afternoon light. The light makes reflections to let us see the waves dance, the whale tail stand out, and even the plume of spray from the whales.

These statements can serve as an important reminder to many of us who create; art is necessary to connect us to the world around and inside us. No matter your medium or experience level, keep on creating and being inspired.

And wherever your artistic journey leads you next, just remember Charles’ wise words,

My advice, ‘Follow the light.’

If you’re interested in exploring our creative programs, you can find the full 2020 offering here:

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