Nature Sketching for Mental Health and Creativity

Updated: Nov 10, 2021

After quitting social media, I went through a period of time where I didn’t know what I was doing with my art and I didn’t feel very motivated to create anything.

I questioned what the point of making art was anymore. At this point in the year, I had three unfinished oil paintings laying around and I just couldn’t seem to get myself motivated to pick them back up again.

I had stumbled across Julia Bausenhardt’s blog about nature sketching and decided to give it a try. No pressure, I wasn’t trying to sell anything and if it went wrong, who’s going to see it?

I love oil painting, but sometimes the process can be so tedious and take a while to let the layers dry.

I wanted something that I could just paint in one sitting and not have to lug a bunch of supplies with me. So, I decided to try something new just for fun and pick up some gouache paints and venture outside.

I have always loved nature, but often I would look at it through my phone screen in the form of beautifully curated photos that I found on Pinterest.

Going outside and painting what I observed was a completely different and immersive experience! It was so nice just to unplug and feel like I was truly appreciating nature.

One of the most challenging things for me was painting quickly enough to capture the main scene before the light changed. As you can see from the photo at the top of the post and below, the scene that I painted was in daylight, but in the photo it is clearly sunset. It was also much cloudier when I started this painting. Things in nature can change a lot in an hour!

Not everything went smoothly though, the second time I went out to paint, I ended up leaving with my painting half finished and very tired from hiking around the lake trying to find the perfect scene to paint.

I brought my camping chair with me, but my set-up wasn’t as convenient as the first time. I had to set my water on the ground and keep my dirty brushes and paper towels in my lap, which made things a little messy. I also didn't like the way this painting was going at first, so I got frustrated and eventually left with some reference photos for later.

Overall, I enjoyed this process. It was very freeing, and I came back from these sessions feeling rejuvenated and inspired with many new ideas.

The moral of this story is…art should be fun! If you are feeling unmotivated try something new! Don’t overthink it and worry about sharing your sketches with anyone. While I did plan on making this experience into a blog post, I didn’t leave the house with the sole intention of creating content to share. That would've blocked my creativity and made the whole experience feel more like an obligation then fun.

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