In this article we explain the concept of forest art with some creative examples and exercises. Along with the forest art ideas we share ways to turn these walks into healing experiences.
Art can be healing, just like nature. When we create art in nature, we are connecting to something deep within ourselves. That which is the source of all ideas, inspiration and insight. It gives us new eyes to see with, new ears to hear with and a new understanding about life.
“Our life is but art in the canvas of nature.“
FOREST ART WALK
Over the course of many months and trials, we have come up with a captivating format for an art walk in nature. It is a creative way to engage with the forest and is enjoyable for all age groups. Here’s a simple introduction to the concept. It’s a silent walk in nature to appreciate the beauty of art in nature and allows us to express our emotions by creating some interesting forest art.
Walk in the forest. Find interesting things. Create art.
First as a group. Then in pairs. And finally on your own.
1: Don’t damage the forest. Use what’s fallen or about to fall.
2: Take only pictures. Let everything you create, return back to nature.
3: Leave no trace. Spread your artwork in nature before you leave.
To begin with, explore a small circle of forest area around you. Everyone tries to look for something that represents them as a person or something unique. When ready, the group forms a circle to do a round of introductions. People introduce themselves by placing their object in the centre of the circle and explaining why they chose it. One by one, the objects are placed together in a way that they form an art piece.
After the first round, the group walks silently for 15 minutes or so and moves to a different place.
Work in pairs. The pair collects 10 objects from the forest ( 5 per person) and together they create nature art in 5 minutes. Once everyone is ready, the whole group goes for a gallery walk to visit each pair’s artwork. You can try to guess what the pair has made or hear their interpretation.
Walk silently for 15 minutes. Observe the beautiful art of Nature.
Working on your own, you have to create a forest friend. A piece of nature art, that has a face on it – eyes, nose, mouth. Once your forest friend is complete, give him/her a name. When this exercise is complete, you will find that the forest has suddenly come alive with many forest friends.
INSIGHT: These forest art exercises tell us that it’s our mind which gives meaning to art. People look at the same arrangement of objects, but everyone interprets it differently.
In the canvas of nature, our life is also like art. Nature brings different situations and people into our lives, but it is our mind which gives meaning to these events. It is this meaning which makes us happy or sad. The entire journey of healing is in being able to observe and transform the art in our mind.
On your way back, walk in silence and observe the art of your mind and the meanings that your mind has given to your life. For a few moments, can you drop all the meanings that your mind has created and simply observe and appreciate nature and its art?
End with a circle of sharing. People share insights and experiences from the art walk, so that individual learning can become collective learning.
Carry an empty bag on the walk. On the way back, the group can clean up the forest by clearing some of the trash they find. Healing the forest is a healing experience too.
EXTRAS – Art in Nature
Colour and Mood:
Choose any colour and collect objects in nature with that colour shade. Create a colour palette with all the different shades of your chosen colour. What are the memories, people and things you associate with that colour? Create a list of all things that come to mind when you see that colour.
*This exercise has been contributed by Mai Ly Tran a school teacher from Vietnam
Creative Visualisation (Nature’s Gift):
Collect an interesting object from nature. Use creative visualisation to turn this object into something else. For e.g: A long stick may become a flying broom, or a microphone stand or a paddle for a boat. Visualise at-least 5 to 10 different things with your chosen object. If you are in a group, then divide into pairs. Each person finds a nature gift for their partner. Visualise a creative use for the gift you have received. Enact it out while other group members try to guess what you are using your object as.
This exercise is designed to build patience and focus. A highly calming nature art activity is to create spirals or circles with nature objects. Start by collecting similar objects like sticks, stones or fallen leaves. Create a small circle with a few objects from your collection. Keep growing your art by adding bigger concentric circles around the original circle. Each of the circles can be of a different colour / size / shape.
Download forest art walk film and poster files at this link.
ART AND NATURE
Please try this art walk with your friends and family. Even more importantly, teach others and share this format in your circles. Forests all over the world are fading away. We need to recreate our relationship with nature urgently. While science can help us create a better life, we need art to create a better world.
The idea is simple and engaging for all age groups. People across the world have held forest art walks in their cities. The aim is to share beautiful images of forest art so that we can inspire more people to connect with nature.
Join our facebook group – ART of NATURE to share your art and link up with like-minded folks from different forests and cities of the world.
SCIENCE OF NATURE ART WALKS
When we move in any environment, we are activating different networks in our brain. There is the logical, information processing, decision-making executive network. Then there is the network, which keeps us balanced and oriented and finally the default network.
The default network is our free mind, which wanders here and there. It kicks in when your task-based executive network begins to rest. The default network is also credited with producing empathy, creativity and important insights.
A great nature experience allows the executive network of the brain to rest and recharge itself. It also engages the default network of the mind in a positive way.
Scientists using brain imaging techniques to study the effect of nature on our brain found a specific part of the brain being activated when we are relaxed in nature. This region is directly linked to the dopamine reward system of the brain, which leads to a higher likelihood of people forming emotional bonds – not just with other people, but also with nature. This has proved to be an incredible finding.
“We can create art out of anything, including our life.”
*This page is part of our Nature Connect course with 100+ nature based arts, games, and meditations from around the world.
You can subscribe to our monthly blog posts here. We are a small group of friends trying to help people reconnect with nature. Our aim is simple:
Helping people heal. Helping forests heal.