Why Nature Inspires Art



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Nataila Portman – Blogger/Designer

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Why Nature Inspires Art

Throughout history, nature has had a leading role as a source of inspiration for both musicians and visual artists. Dating back to even prehistoric cave drawings in Lascaux, France or even the Grand Canyon Suite composed by Grofe, nature has always been and will always be a driving force of creative inspiration.

Things in nature are tangible references that we use all the time. From the moment we have memories as little kids, we have been in nature and have used it to learn. From drawing lollipop-looking flowers underneath a cotton ball clouded sky or making a thunderstorm, clapping our hands various ways in class, nature has been a part of our foundational education simply because it is one of the most palpable things we have. Just walk outside and there it is. Similarly, we use words and common figures of speech that originally have a meaning that is found in nature to describe events or objects in our daily lives. For example, a dry or wet signal, lightning fast reflexes, a rocky start, root of a problem, etc…The list goes on. Why did it become this way? Because nature is where life begins and has always been there for us to draw ideas from. Nature is a relative constant in our ever changing lives.

Scientifically, there are several parallels between nature and music. There are natural harmonies and pitch frequencies that the Earth makes as it lives and breathes. The wind ripping through canyons and water falling over smooth rocks. Not to mention animals that sing as they go about their days. Our modern day instruments are even tuned to match the natural movement, rhythm and vibration of the cosmos at A=432Hz, which is mathematically proven to be the exact same as the universe. Music was given to us by nature, with the earliest instruments being from gourds, or hollowed out pieces of wood. Even now, instruments are very rarely not based on vibrations traveling through some type of wood. The direct parallels between music and nature are too great to ignore.

Visual art also comes from nature. Literally. The mediums that artists use to inspire and create their pieces are from nature. Wood, charcoal, graphite, clay, mixed pigments, water. Artists literally use nature to create their works. The way the cave dwellers created paint to document and draw on their walls is in essence the same exact process that we use today. Without these elements of nature we wouldn’t have to tools to even think about making artwork.

Even in my own life, nature has played a huge role on my artistic endeavors. In my music, I often look to natural features of the world as a guide to how things sound and interact with each other. The way that the wind glides through trees, empty fields with birds singing, rain drops splattering on a lake. All of those things are completely unique in their own way and yet all have melodic qualities that can be used and found in music of all varieties. And also with drawing, for me it is 100% more challenging and invigorating to try to capture things that come from nature such as trees, rivers, mountains, valleys, etc… For these things have also been created and embody some of the most artistically complex concepts that the earth has to offer.

As humans, we have a natural tendency to respond to things that move us, forcing us to create. Seeing nature and how it interacts with not only us but the universe around it has inspired countless paintings, drawings, songs, sculptures, symphonies, etc…all different, based on how the individual person responds to nature uniquely. No song or artwork has ever been the exact same nor will they ever be. And this fact is one example of why we should continue to make an effort to not only preserve the nature around us, but leave it better than the way we found it. Because not only would the world be purely a much richer place, but our musical and artistic influences would continue to grow, inspiring generations in new ways for years to come.

“Nature is an endless combination and repetition of a very few laws. She hums the old well-known air through innumerable variations.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson, ‘History’ essays


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