Our house has windows that open to a box canyon and seven hills. The photos don't do justice. There is no capturing the deep and rocky, cedar covered 20 mile view up the Medina Valley. The walk down the hillside is full of rockslides, rolling stones. Walking stick imperatives.
I forget to look some days and then suddenly I do. This month the cedars are orange tipped with pollen and the skies are ribbons swirls of greys, pinks, pale corals, blue and clouds trying to find a place to rain. The sun is lowered and softer and welcome, not like August's rage and roar, a softer song of light. I've never tried this out-the-window vision in my work. Is it too intimate, too homey? Too hard and too soft at the same time?
It is a view both far and near, no majestic rock shape, just softened cedar hills that layer one upon the other and build the famous false horizons we take for everyday magic. Some mornings the fog pools like lake water and gives us that waterfront lot we imagine. I can't find the way to make it shape enough; it's just all texture.
Maybe I can try it when I wander back to landscapes in my art work. Right now I am yearning for closer views. Because of the long visions of Big Bend this past 18 months I'm thinking about microscopes and macro views.
Looking for balance in all the tight places. Despite the lack of my artist attention to the landforms and hidden road outside the window, what grows and wilts and multiplies in pads and pods and leaves is still in sight in my art. Closer invites attention. When I close my my eyes and speak my vocabulary of shapes, the vowels start with leaves, the consonants with spirals inside shells. The grammar of pomegranate seeds and round robust rich roundnesses that burst and grow and roll around the surfaces of my art.
Obviously, I am not alone in finding something to think about in the natural world.
Below is an excerpt from the interview with author Tina Welling by Arts & Healing Network Director Mary Daniel Hobson. The Arts & Healing Network is now closed, but its archives have some powerful thoughts and images. While Tina Welling is talking about writing, I think many of us visual artists have much the same experience working in and about nature.
Mary Daniel Hobson: Tell me a little bit about your creative journey, and how you began to use writing as a way to connect with nature.
Tina Welling: I began journaling and writing creatively as an urge to know myself. And that resulted in an expanded sense of awareness. I experienced changes that opened me to my body and to my greater body, the earth. I became more connected to who I truly was, while also engaging in a deepened relationship with the mountains, meadows and forests around me. Writing down what I was experiencing enhanced my relationship with the outdoors, while being outdoors supported my creative energy.
Mary Daniel: Why do you think that writing in connection with nature can be such a healing catalyst?
Tina: Nature and our personal creative energy are one thing, governed by the same rules and rhythms. When we align ourselves with the energies of the natural world, we expand into greater aliveness. When I'm outdoors in a safe place, I can open myself to stillness, connect with my essential self and be nurtured by all the life throbbing above, below and around me.
Lessons and patterns for living well are everywhere in nature. We are reminded that like the earth, we live with seasons of producing and rest, and that we must attend our inner lives just as the trees and plants grow their root systems. We know we must act out of our authentic selves, just as each species of bird and animal life do and we enjoy a sense of healing when we experience oneness with all of life about us.