into the great outdoors
The weather beckons us when the temperatures reach 70 degrees and above. We long to bask in the sunshine or sit under a shady tree and just be. A gentle breeze, a sip of something cold or hot, a good book, being alone with your thoughts. Truth be told, everything is better outside during the months of beautiful weather and easier living. It’s truly heaven on earth.
For us creative types, we are especially ecstatic when it comes to this concept. Gone are the pre-Impressionism days, before the invention of the proverbial tube of paint, when artists were trapped in their studios staring out their windows to examine and interpret “the landscape.” We can live and create “en plein air”—in the open air. We can breathe in and feel our space, having a total picture while engaging all our senses. It’s inspiring because you are physically within the world you are interpreting without pigment dust blowing around. We are free to enjoy the world as our studio: the landscape transforming to fit our creative needs; the natural light filling our canvases perfectly; the freedom to use portable easels, chairs, and paint sets. Perhaps we want to uncover the naturalist within, utilizing the elements found in nature to directly work with and in. A tree stump for a chair; leaning a canvas against a tree as an easel; utilizing natural pigments or incorporating found objects in your work. The possibilities are endless, like the big world your feet are grounded in when you unearth your inhibitions and let everything take flight into the breeze of your imagination.
The open-air studio is an amazing concept; however, it may be difficult for (or pose material-related problems for) various art makers such as installation artists, sculptors, printmakers, or any other artists who require heavy machinery, methods or specific tools which make creating art outdoors difficult. Luckily, there are alternatives to circumvent the system if your art-making falls into one of these categories. Think about your art and adjust to working outside.
The sketchbook: the book of plans, ideas, creative schemes, the beginning of many ideas. It’s so very easy to transport, can fit into a pocket or purse, and so ideal for travel and adventure. I’ve always been a huge fan of sketchbooks. They are the place one can view process. A visual artist, unlike a musician or any performer, is usually engaging in the art-making process solo. Usually, we view the finished piece in a gallery, museum, public or private venue. Outsiders do not get to witness the magic and mystery of visual art creation. The sketchbook and, in particular, drawing, unveils some of the mystique surrounding the artist. It is raw, real and filled with the hand of the artist. I can remember seeing Leonardo Da Vinci’s drawings in Italy—I had chills from the reality of this experience, as if he was standing before me. One of my treasures of inspiration is a copy of “The Diary of Frida Kahlo,” which is essentially her sketchbook/journal documenting the last ten years of her physically and emotionally painful life. One word: Amazing. You get a true external compass of her internal pain and emotional distress.
I always speak as the voice of a creator; however, a creator does not have to fit within the confines of one genre of creativity. Maybe you are a song writer, poet, doodler, chef, dancer, a lover of books and people, or a bird watcher; whatever drives your creative side of your brain; take it outside.
Take it outside.
Think about it. There are no limits in open air. The world is far and wide, and something profound occurs when you are working outside in the midst of it. It’s so natural. One feels more free and alive. I imagine Walt Whitman and Henry David Thoreau, and how they understood this power of nature and how it inspires great work, affecting one’s creative, intellectual and spiritual planes of being.
Yes, take it all outside.
You will be happy you did.
by Kim Celona