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A true favorite inspiration of mine is British artist Andy Goldsworthy.  I remember years ago seeing an installation of his at the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC, and being intrigued enough by the rock formations that I wanted to read more about him.

Andy Goldsworthy Roof photo by Ser Amantio Di Nicolao, Wikipidea Creative Commons

He works and lives in Scotland, but creates the most amazing site specific land art and sculptures all over the world. Not only are they visually stimulating, but they correctly illustrate how fragile our world really is.  Many of his installations are not meant to be permanent, but become part of their natural surroundings. He uses leaves, twigs, ice or stone.  Somehow the work is startling, but still blends into its environment.  And he has a meticulous patience that I could not ever achieve. (I found what looks like a lovely packet guide to his work on the Barnes & Noble site)

copyright Andy Goldsworthy

I read one of Laura’s charming posts on Happy Homemaker UK, “Tips For Hiking With Kids”, and it made me recall one of my creative retreats where a group of women artists connected with the trails and woods in the North Carolina Mountains for a week.

I had been working for days on my “Dogwood” series of conte drawings. The mountain house is very rustic, and fairly isolated, but we had good company and lots of food stashed away for the duration.

We had no tv, no phones, but lots of nature (and a few bottles of wine) to entertain us. Our friend and social organizer, my BFF who is an art teacher in LA, brought a video along on Andy Goldsworthy that we could play on her computer.  That was our after dinner activity.

To spend the day sketching and working so close to nature, and then see what this master environmentalist came up with was phenomenal. He takes the most mundane natural elements and creates these ethereal visual moments in time that are astounding.

On a much smaller scale I went outside the next morning and created my own environmental play. It was fun to come out during the day and watch as it slowly slipped away.

My attempt to connect to my surroundings visually

It was an interesting break from my drawing, and made me realize the different ways an artist can actually connect with nature. I went back to my art table with renewed interest, and finished the branches/mountain dogwood series. Such a luxury to be totally immersed in your environment and be able to express it in art.

One of my drawing of dogwood branches