Easy Inspiration From Natural Beauty

Last weekend the Bolton clan convened for its annual family reunion. Although it rained a bit, we had plenty of sunshine, beautiful views, and great times. 

Of course, I brought a slew of art-making supplies, the better to bring people together through art. Plus, who wouldn't be inspired to create when surrounded by the natural beauty provided by the ocean waves, rocky shore, and coastal vegetation?

When you have time to slow down and enjoy the scenery, it's amazing the things you notice. Like how the color of the ocean can look blue, silver, green, slate gray, or even black, depending on the weather. Or how what looks like a fluffy patch of green from afar is actually a scrubby, prickly, gnarly bush when you get up close. (Hey, it's hard to grow in that rocky, salty, New England soil!)

Of course, as an art quilter, my mind immediately translates those colors and textures into fabric, fiber, and embellishment. For example, how could I emulate the silvery glint of the sunshine on water? Metallic thread, foil paper, rows of shiny bugle beads, and sheer metallic fabric immediately come to mind. But I could also use strips of craft metal or Christmas tree tinsel partially melted with a heat gun (as Gilda Baron did in "Blue on the Rocks," Quilting Arts, June/July 2007) sewn to the quilt surface to evoke silvery texture by the sea. 

I could emulate scrubby seaside foliage with green fabric over-dyed in a mottled pattern and raw-edge appliqué, with hand embroidery like masses of French knots, or with needle-felted fibers in various greens and browns. I could also create texture by applying coarse molding paste to the surface and painting over it or by combining and layering several textures and techniques together (such as in Sharon Nemirov's "Leaf Flakes," featured in Quilting Arts, April/May 2010).

Nature offers endless inspiration for art, and there are as many ways to follow through on that inspiration with fiber, fabric, mixed media, and embellishment as there are inspirations.

Whether it's summer or winter, lush or arid where you live, be sure to take the time to really experience nature. Your art will be the better for it!

P.S. How does nature inspire you? Leave a comment below.

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