Drawing from nature teaches us to be still, to be observant and is deeply calming.
The personal benefits we can draw from nature are huge. We often look but don’t see – we forget how to listen to nature and enjoy the beauty of the moment. Mindfulness is a practice and skill for bringing your full attention to the present moment. We all need time to slow down and notice how we are feeling and drawing outdoors is an activity that requires focus and immersion.
I would like to invite you to look closely at nature and to draw or paint something that inspires you.
You will need: a sketch book or drawing paper attached to cardboard – the back page of a notebook is perfect. A sketching pencil, eraser, pencil sharpener, a small box of watercolours with a brush and pot of water. I like using watercolour pencils – you can then decide whether to add water or not. A sit-upon mat or blanket.
Nature is inspiring
First, find a safe and special place where you can sit alone surrounded by nature. This could be on the coast watching the ocean waves, the heathland smelling the exotic coconut scent of the yellow gorse flowers or the soft woodland floor underneath your feet – there are many amazing landscapes to explore in the New Forest. A familiar back garden or local park can be a sanctuary to enjoy. Once you have found your special spot you will need to be comfortable, so use your mat or blanket to sit quietly.
• Next, take 3 long, slow deep breaths inhaling through your nose and exhale through an open mouth and relax. Notice the sounds around you – close your eyes and pay attention to what you feel. It might be the warmth of the sun or the coolness of the wind on your skin. What can you smell? Open your eyes.
• Pause and carefully look at your surroundings again with fresh eyes and senses awakened to find something from nature to draw. Let your curiosity guide you – what do you get drawn to? What captures your attention?
It might be a beautiful flower – how many petals does it have? Look carefully at the shape of the flower, its symmetry and colours. Is the edge of its leaves smooth, jagged or hairy? Look carefully at the pattern of its leaf veins and shades of green. Really look and see it before beginning to sketch details. This marvel of nature – just like you, is unique – give it your full attention.
Be kind to yourself. Remember drawings don’t need to be perfect. Trust your eyes and draw what you see and feel – relax and enjoy.
I place my drawings around my home and I often look at them to take me back to that moment I created for myself. Being in nature and recalling memories of these special moments is energising. It can help your mood and reduce stress. Make observing nature through drawings, photography and birdwatching a regular activity in your life. Maybe your drawings will develop into an art journal and even inspire some creative writing.
For further reading I recommend:
Mindfulness and the Natural World: Bringing our Awareness Back to Nature, by Claire Thompson.