improvising in nature with nature

I enjoy sketching outside, taking notes of nature using nature. I set aside the usual art making tools like brushes and pencils, and instead look around me to find something to use as mark making tool.  It’s an invitation to improvise. Sometimes I find the tool before the subject. It was the case with the studies in ink, I made of a small apple


I was walking around, looked down, found a blue jay’s feather, kept going and came up to this wild apple tree.

The feather was the ideal tool for me to follow the contour of the apple with my eye and let my hand trace it on the paper with ink. I did that over and over. The softness of the feather was ideal, it led my hands. I tried both right and left hands in making the curves. I enjoyed the gesture that came. It felt smooth and effortless. It was a liberating sensation to just commit to that one gesture, over and over. I got into a certain rhythm that felt meditative.

Nature notes - apple - Ink with wood stick

I brought with me this art of improvisation  in nature while visiting Grand Tetons National Park last summer.

Grant Tetons

I had with me a small sketch book and a bottle of ink and I went looking for something to make a mark. I found a smooth pebble, place a small drop of ink on it and went to work. This is the result, drying in the morning sun:

nature note - Grand Tetons - ink with stone

With each tool I find in nature, I find a unique way of making a mark, a gesture. It’s an improvisation that leads to discovery. With the coconut husk I found at the beach on the Pacific coast of Mexico, I discovered I could get quite gestural with it and I responded to that.  The husk also picked up the ink rather well, making a thick, rich mark.

nature notes - ink with coconut husk

Nature notes - ink with coconut husk

Improvising in nature with nature is for me a way to connect to the joy of being open to my creative process.

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