For centuries artists have gone to nature to get inspiration for new ideas, color schemes, and balance. There is something about nature’s perfect imperfections that draws the eye in and captures the heart of the imagination. Many of us are not artists by trade, but I believe we all have that ability to pick out things that appeal to us in some spiritual way when it comes to art and nature.
I have been known to dabble in all sorts of artwork from watercolors, acrylics, pastels, and oils to charcoal, ink and pencils. At the same time, I find my artistic ability to come out in my photography, but I am a master of none of the genres. My artistic ability comes out in the form of landscaping and plant design. I cannot tell you how many people who are good with the stroke of a brush, tell me that I can paint a yard without hesitation with plant materials. I never even realized the correlation until I sat back and thought about it. Gardening is a big form of the arts, both visually and spiritually.
How often do we experience Asian art with its profound use of weeping trees, orchids and bamboo? The subject matter alone gives a sense of calmness and serenity. Their techniques of growing bonsai is an art form in itself. I can’t tell you how many times I see a bonsai exhibit and revel in the age of some of these miniature trees. Some are hundreds of years old and are only about 18 to 24 inches tall. They put me in awe, yet there is an intense level of patience, skill and artistry to achieve the final results.
Orchids always mesmerize my senses with their delicate nature, with some of their blooms lasting months in the right conditions. When you think of the harsh elements of warmth, humidity and most living in trees, you would believe they are a hardy sort. When you see them growing in my house and meeting their quick demise, you would believe as I and think they are a very delicate, fragile plant. Whatever their perception, they have been used in painting and photography for as long as the minds can imagine to inspire and capture attention.
Tulips have been a great subject of paintings, especially that of the parrot tulips. Their wrinkled and whimsical petals of various shades have captured the hearts of many viewers. They contain a wonderful element of texture that is enhanced both through color and through black and white.
Exotic flowers such as the Bird of Paradise, Camellias and the Daturas (better known as angel trumpets) are also depicted in numerous types of paintings and photos. Their color schemes and petal structures seem to entice the eye for some reason, but it is beautiful in all senses of the imagination.
Winter scenes are some of the best subject matters for those seeking black and white appearances without having to use a special lens or focus. The brown and black images against the white snowfall give everything that special look. When color is added to it, it grabs that eye and pulls you in. Imagine a cardinal in a tree on a bleak winter day. The vivid red is the focus of the picture!!! Not to mention, seeing a cardinal in your area in winter is also a special treat.
Fern leaves have been used for charcoal rubbings along with that of the maple leaves for their delicate texture and shape. Hosta and rhubarb leaves have been used for imprints in concrete and sculpture to depict their deep veining structures and shape. Many birdbaths have been created using the rhubarb leaves as a concrete mold.
Not only are plant materials used for art inspiration, but many of the colors in our paints, dyes, and inks come from natural plant materials that grow in the garden and in nature. The next time you rub a rose petal or dandelion into your skin, notice the stain it leaves behind; this is a natural dye.
Roses have always been a mainstay of art stills. Their romantic history and numerous petals give them a sense of nostalgia. Available in almost any color, their textures and petal structure create a photo or painting that gives multiple dimensions. White flowers seem to enhance this depth by creating shadow in just the right spots.
The next time you page through a magazine, look at greeting cards, go through an art gallery exhibit or see various advertisements, notice how many of nature’s products have been used as objects of art. The number that you notice may just astound you. The next time you go into your garden during any of the seasons, take a moment to embrace your own natural art gallery that changes on a daily basis. Yes, you the gardener are an artist in your own realm. Embrace it and enjoy it for its many dimensions. Nature, it creates its own palette of colors and sculpture.