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Nature’s Canvas: The Therapeutic Benefits of Creating En Plein Air


I don’t know about you, but one of my favorite things in life is when I learn new things. Whether it be some grandiose quantum philosophy which explores the questions that arise from the interpretation and implications of quantum theory, or most often are those simpler moments of “Huh…so that’s what that’s called…” In these moments, I always take a pause and appreciate these reminders that we are evolution in motion.

Case in point, while I have participated in this practice a multitude of times, I just learned the proper term for it: En Plein Air.

En plein air is a French expression that means "in the open air". It refers to the act of painting outdoors, on location, rather than in a studio. En plein air painting has been practiced for centuries, with artists and art enthusiasts alike taking advantage of the beauty and inspiration that can be found in nature.

While en plein air painting is often associated with landscapes, it can also be applied to other subjects, such as utilizing natural materials, architecture, still life, and even people. The key is to find a subject that inspires you and to be open to the beauty and unexpected surprises that can arise when creating outdoors.

Creating en plein air is a wonderful way to connect with nature and engage in a mindful, meditative practice, and to capture the essence of a scene with the subtle nuances of light and color that can be difficult to replicate in a studio. It can also be a great way to challenge ourselves to grow, as creating outdoors can present unique challenges and opportunities by encouraging us to develop a deeper appreciation for the world around us.

Nature has a way of calming our minds and soothing our souls. It provides a sense of peace and tranquility that can be difficult to find in our busy lives. This is why incorporating nature into art practices can be such a powerful experience. When we incorporate nature into our sessions, we can experience a sense of connection to the natural world. This connection can help us feel more grounded, centered, and calm. It can also inspire us to tap into our intuition.

So, how can we incorporate more nature into our creative sessions? With the most obvious being to paint en plein air by setting up your easel and paint outside, capturing the natural beauty around you, here are a few additional ideas to experiment with:

  • Use natural materials in your art. Incorporate leaves, flowers, or twigs into your artwork. You could even use natural materials to make your own paint or ink. You can add paint, markers, or other materials to create a layered effect.

  • Make nature rubbings. Find interesting textures in nature, like tree bark or leaves, and use crayons or charcoal to make rubbings. These elements can be incorporated into your other artwork or used on their own.

  • Build a nature sculpture. When collecting those natural materials, like sticks, stones and seashells, use them to create a sculpture. This can be a fun and collaborative activity, especially if done with friends or family.

  • And lastly, create a nature journal. Use a sketchbook or journal to document your observations and experiences in nature. You can include sketches, paintings, or written notes about what you see, what you created and and how it makes you feel.

Don't be afraid to experiment and try new things. The most important thing is to connect with nature and let it inspire your creativity. Tap into the calming and inspiring qualities of the natural world, and allow yourself to be playful. The key is to enjoy the process and fall in love with the world around you.


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