Great artists wax lyrical about nature and find nature valuable as muse and as emotional healer. Picasso wrote of going to the forests of Fontainebleau Palace and “gorging on green,” then rushing home to disgorge all that color. Van Gogh remarked that the genius of the Japanese painter was in his ability to quietly, patiently, and intensely study a single blade of grass. On balance, artists love nature; and in today’s post creativity coach Annette Naber describes how nature can become your personal muse.
Most of us have had the experience of returning home from a walk in nature and feeling refreshed physically and a bit more whole and integrated than before we left for our walk. As Forest Bathing is becoming more of a mainstream term, we are learning about the distinct and desirable physical, emotional and immunological benefits from spending time with trees and plants. However, there’s more – nature can also inspire our creative juices. How? In the following ways.
1. Sensory Experience
One simple yet effective technique is to open up to our sensory experiences more fully and consciously while we are outside.
What do you see, I mean, REALLY see? Colors, patterns, shapes, textures – look closely, stand still and look at one tree or a plant, study it as if you saw it for the first time and would have to describe it to a blind person or to someone from a treeless planet.
What do you hear? Nearby, or farther in the distance? How do sounds change as you move deeper into a stand of trees or come out of it?
What do you smell? Is there a scent of conifer needles, decomposing leaves on the ground, damp earth after the rain, spring blossoms, sewage water, dog poop?
What do you taste? The coffee you just drank, the meal you just ate, the air you are passing through, a blade of grass or a blossom or berry you are nibbling on?
What do you feel on your skin? Even if you are bundled up in cold winter weather – what is the sensation of wind, temperature, sun, or moisture on your exposed face or hands? What do you feel through the soles of your shoes?
Really practice this, don’t just imagine it. Then write it all down while it is still fresh. Perhaps, it will help as an icebreaker for your writing, free up some blocked energy, or release some thoughts. Now you are here, in the moment, with your sensory impressions and not in the past regurgitating an argument or anxiously thinking about something that needs doing tomorrow. Here—now—in your body.
2. Found Object
A second way to inspire your creative imagination: you may be drawn to a small stone, a leaf, a blossom, or the way a certain tree leans into another or bends away from it. If you can’t bring the object home with you, you can always take a picture.
Then write about what this object evokes in you, what memories it brings, what it reminds you of in symbolic terms. A discarded snake skin I once found hanging from a tree became the catalyst for much writing in the following weeks and then led to a profound insight that helped me re-arrange my life priorities to align more directly with my deepest values.
Maybe you can incorporate your insights into your novel or you can turn it into a poem. Or it might inspire your technical writing, a painting, or a teaching lesson. Nature can indeed become your muse. Even a dandelion breaking through the cracks in a city sidewalk can hold a creative message for you. Will you accept it and allow its tenacity and beauty to enrich your work?
You can learn more about Annette Naber at www.beautyalongtheroad.wordpress.com or at https://emeraldmountainsanctuary.com/ You can also email her at Anaber99@aol.com
You can learn more about Eric Maisel at www.ericmaisel.com
Get THE GREAT CREATIVITY TOOLKIT here:
This is a very refreshing read. I wish I could write like this but must consider that my artwork is painting and can reflect a lot of “forest bathing” in colors and sensory experience.
Nature is a real artist, and we are just imitators. just trained monkeys
WOW! What an inspiring article. I have forever, it seems, to have those very same thoughts bottled up inside me; but never imagined to write them down. Because of this article, I believe that the written word just may be the way to expand one’s inner being, or as Annette refers to your “Inner Muse”.
I often times make a cup of hot coffee or hot chocolate an amble through the woods. kicking up the leaves and loose earth. I always bring my camera with me. I have a number of images (digital), and photos (film) . . . forgive me for being rather anal about it but I am 78 years old and grew up with film, at times retain a film mentality . . . . that I believe are rather good. What I have to do is to join a local photography club and go through, what I imagine for me at least, would be a rather emotional experience, of having knowledgeable artists critic my work.
At any rate, thank you for your very inspiring article. I will, in the future apply your suggestions, and write down my feelings after my wanderings through nature. (this brings to mind Henry David “T’s” work, “Walden Ponds”)!!