My favorite artist is Mother Nature. She provides endless sources of inspiration throughout the year. From the early impressions of springtime flowers, to the surrealistic scenes of snowy winters, there’s an art for all seasons.
Throughout the year, my art varies greatly according to the weather. I am lucky to have a wide range of interests, from clean and modern digital art and graphic design to messy pastel chalk portraiture of the traditional kind.
Nature’s inspiration beckons me to incorporate the seasons into every aspect of my creativity, from the seasons influence the colors I select for my palettes, the message I am driven to convey, and even the medium I choose to work with. In my world, there is an art for all seasons.
Here is my own personal guide to using mixed media by season. I invite you to throw on some Vivaldi and join me in incorporating nature in your design and art.
As winter releases its grip on my garden, my heating bill, and my achy bones, I feel my creativity begin to stir. Every year, there’s something about spring that wakes up a new passion for creation in me. I dust off the cobwebs from my work space in the garage, open the windows for fresh air, and let the smells of spring into my life.
Spring is the perfect season for experimenting with new mediums. The ideas that were brewing all winter are ready to “spring” into action. To prepare for the art that is sure to follow, I might research new techniques, or try out a new palette. Here are my favorite springtime mediums.
There’s no better way to capture the delicate wash of spring than with watercolor paint. I enjoy taking walks to collect flowers for a still life. I use rainwater to dip my brush (how poetic!), and experiment with negative space to let the purity of the white paper shine through.
The overwhelming urge to capture the ephemeral quality of spring is quelled by pressing the flowers. “Now you’ll be mine…forever!!!” I whisper maniacally as I smash a perfect Shasta daisy into my album. A smashed rose still smells as sweet, right?
Pressed flowers can be incorporated into collage, jewelry design, or photography.
Paper making is a great way to repurpose clutter left around the house from winter. Pile up those old Christmas cards, tax forms, or wrapping paper, add them to a blender with some flower petals or fresh herbs, and press the mixture through a fine screen to produce beautiful sheets of paper that can be used for invitations or as canvas.
Summer brings bright sunny days and warm nights. It’s a season for action, adventure, travel. Take the many opportunities summer brings to create bright, colorful images that convey the light of the summer sunshine.
Summer brings light, and light brings photography. As the days get longer, take advantage of the longer days by grabbing your camera in the early morning or golden hour and snap some summertime scenes: people at beach, animals at the zoo, or visits to fantastic national parks.
Get out of the studio and head to the beach to collect one of nature’s most impressive works of design: seashells. While you’re there, you might find sea glass, stones and driftwood as well.
Painting, Pastels, Mosaic, and Tie Dye
Summer is a great time for messy media, because when you finish, you can just run outside and hose yourself off. Paint dries faster in the summer, and there’s nothing like the smell of turpentine on a hot summer’s day.
Pastels are great for picking up the perfect shades of summer. I set up an outdoor studio so I can observe the dramatic shadows and vibrant colors a sunny day can bring.
Last year, I started working with concrete to make stepping stone tile mosaics for my garden. Mixing concrete is not for the faint of heart, and should be done late in the day to avoid scorching temperatures and a nasty sunburn. (Lesson learned.)
Another fun in the sun project I like to do is tie dye. It’s a great way to upcycle old tee shirts, towels, or paint-splattered pants. Experiment with dye, bleach, or a combination of both. Then let the sun do the work of drying your new boho threads!
As we head indoors and the clocks fall back, it’s a good time to start finishing projects. Autumn art always make me think of Andy Goldworthy’s awe-inspiring leaf art. He never passes up an opportunity to use nature as a medium itself, and neither should we.
Stencils and Rubbings
I used to gather leaves to make rubbings as a child, and now I’m doing it with my own daughter. We collect the various eccentric leaves of Southern California and go home to see what art lies within.
Using crayons and glue always brings back that back-to-school feeling, and it’s even more fun the second time around. I’m starting to think I may have had children for this and this reason alone!
It’s time to sharpen those pencils and grab a nice clean sketch book. I love putting a sharp pencil to a sheet of crisp paper. Like leaves, ideas begin to dance upon the pages. Let the lines of your pencil fall where they may. It’s a great exercise in meditation.
Charcoal is another nice medium to use in autumn. You can capture the smoke from a nearby fire, or the stark branches on a sketch of a dead tree. My fidget spinner is actually a kneadable eraser, and with a pencil and pad, I can joyously scribble an entire afternoon away.
For artists worldwide, the least popular of all seasons has got to be winter. Our hands are cold, the lighting is poor, and it’s hard to throw paint on a canvas with a blanket wrapped around your shoulders. Believe me, I’ve tried.
However, winter is not without its artistic benefits. For one thing, it’s a great time to upload and catalogue all the art you’ve created for the year, frame some of your prints, or visit art galleries for some indoor art inspiration. And let’s not forget that it’s the season of giving…and selling. Get ready for the holiday rush by creating some hand-made gifts to share with the world.
This art is usually born out of necessity for me. I crochet scarves, hats, sweaters and blankets all winter long. In the summer, I want nothing to do with wool or faux fur, but come winter, you can usually find me curled up under a heaping pile of yarn, happily whipping away at some new piece of clothing.
Winter is a good time to work with clay, as it keeps your hands warm. Fire up the kiln and make some bowls for a warm bowl of chicken noodle soup. Or, pick up some metal, wood, or stone and start chipping. The repetitive motion keeps your energy up and your mind off the fact that you haven’t seen the sun in months. It’s therapeutic, really.
Computers are nice and warm to sit in front of on cold winter’s day. They provide their own light, there’s no mess to clean up (unless you count your pc’s desktop), and they easily accommodate a cup of coffee, snuggly robe and comfy slippers.
A Mixed Media Approach to Life
I hope you’ve enjoyed following me through a year of seasonal art. I’m sure much of the art we create is inspired by Mother Nature, even if we aren’t aware of it! I’d like to bring the idea into our collective consciousness, and work in tune with all the seasons and their splendors. I would love to hear your thoughts on how you incorporate the seasons into your work, too. Happy creating!