Forest-Walking: An Artist’s Love Letter to Nature

Forest-walking: An artist's love letter to nature
Reading Time: 2 minutes

Forest-walking: An artist’s love letter to nature. Image: Annie Guo

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Forest-walking: An artist’s love letter to nature

We have always been inspired by nature. 

Think back to one of the oldest known art masterpieces in modern-day France, Lascaux Cave. The early humans drew prehistoric animals in repeated shapes similar to contemporary animation frames, and the guess is that these paintings actually would have looked like they were moving in the haunting flicker of the artists’ torchlight. Pretty magical, huh? 

The ways we live now are much less hunter-gather-like, and it can be difficult to feel our closeness to the natural world unless you are a farmer or a marine biologist. And yet our lives rely on nature, from our food to the clothes that we wear. As if nature doesn’t give us enough by keeping us alive, we all know that spending time in natural spaces reduces stress and makes us happier (at the end of this post, you can see a link to a study where they crunched numbers on just how much). 

As an artist, it is my job to notice and study things down to the nitty-gritty details. My art style very much suits children, who themselves are innate masters of exploring nature. They just know to look into logs for bugs, splash in puddles, and to crunch dried leaves under their little boots. It wasn’t until I re-learnt these habits myself to inspire my illustrations that I unlocked not just interesting ways to emulate texture, shape, and colour but also little habits for a more joyful life. 

I think grown-ups can learn a lot from kids about how to become better nature explorers, and that starts with looking in different ways. I like to walk under trees and gaze up at how the sun dapples through the leaves. In Japanese, this peaceful phenomenon is called “komorebi.” Closing my eyes for at least 20 seconds, I start to drown out the sounds of traffic and hear unique bird calls from the foliage. 

I always bring my sketchbook with me on a forest walk and draw things that interest me. My sketchbooks are always filled with drawings of frogs, moss, and the occasional weird thing someone has thrown into the forest. Once, I saw a vintage rusted car engine! It was dumped amongst some lush green ferns and looked almost alien. By drawing or writing down things that I see, I have learnt to really slow down and appreciate the details, like the gills under the tiniest mushroom cap or the warbling song of the local magpie. 

Since exploring nature, I try to use my art to speak of its beauty and celebrate kinder choices for the planet. Recently, I made a poster that celebrates the Goodfish Sustainable Seafood Guide and restaurants that source their seafood with ocean health in mind. Having almost failed high school biology, I would be a shoddy scientist so art is the way that I appreciate our living planet. I encourage you to find ways that you might enjoy nature and look to your strengths in protecting it. Maybe that will be your Lascaux Cave. 

GoodFish Poster. Image: Annie Guo
GoodFish Poster. Image: Annie Guo

Links:

Website: https://www.pencilcritter.com/ 

Instagram: @pencilcritter 

References: 

https://archeologie.culture.gouv.fr/lascaux/en

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19568835/#:~:text=The%20term%20Shinrin%2Dyoku%20was,i n%2024%20forests%20across%20Japan 

https://goodfish.org.au/

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