Collecting Meaningful & Personal Drawing Inspiration from Nature

How to use being mindful in nature to collect meaningful and personal inspiration for your expressive art drawings…

Our objectives in this lesson are:

  • to understand that creativity, drawing and mindful connections with nature can lead to calm, balance, happiness, achievement, and a feeling of fulfilment.

  • to understand the importance of ‘stopping’ and quiet ‘nothing’ time for mindfulness and creativity.

  • to learn to experience nature fully and start noticing

  • to use these mindful moments to start collecting your own nature moments to be the inspiration for your artwork.

This is part of my Start Drawing Your Way free drawing resource and follows on from my page looking at personal, self-expressive art…

Precious moments like this help us learn to stop, look, appreciate, and feel connected to nature.

Precious moments like this help us learn to stop, look, appreciate, and feel connected to nature.

Why go to all this bother?

When we understand fully why we’re doing something, and the potential benefits that we can gain, we feel more fully invested in continuing to make time to build up these new habits we can reap so much from.

Stopping and quiet time are important for our art and drawing practice, but also for our general well-being. We need to learn how to have this decompression times so that our art becomes a pleasure and not another ‘busy’ chore to get through.

When we learn to stop, we can slip more easily back into that mindful ‘stopping’ place, when out in nature or when we’re being more creative at our art and drawing – and, eventually, even in those everyday, stressy, busy moments when we need to stop, decompress, and come back to the moment more mindfully.

Taking time to stop and appreciate the show nature has put on - nacreous clouds in the winter skies spotted on my early morning dog walk

Taking time to stop and appreciate the show nature has put on - nacreous clouds in the winter skies spotted on my early morning dog walk

Learning to ‘stop’ and ‘notice’ is so important for our happiness and general wellbeing, to feel calm and connected with nature – but it’s also a useful skill to learn so that our drawings are mindful, meditative and enjoyable… and our art becomes more meaningful and a visual expression of our selves.

Using these moments to collect inspiration for our artwork and drawings is important because it allows you to start your drawings from what inspires you, which means that you will enjoy it more and it will feel more than just an exercise in technical drawing.

A moment spent in nature - and inspiration for future drawings

A moment spent in nature - and inspiration for future drawings

On a deeper level, taking time in your everyday life to notice things that you find beautiful or interesting can help us to get into the habit of feeling gratitude at the abundance that’s all around us in the little things… and that’s way more conducive to feeling calm and happy than focusing on the latest negative news story - and that gets us into a better place for being creative, too.

You can find out how to start ‘stopping’ and how to start ‘noticing’ mindfully, particularly in nature, in this free PDF download that I’ve created to accompany this web page. Take a moment to read it, now, before continuing with this page… (File opens in a new window and is in PDF format.)

Collecting Your Nature Inspiration

We’re going to look at what you’re noticing – what ‘speaks’ to you and what inspires you.

Taking the time to stop for a moment in nature, open all your senses, be present in that moment and in that place, and notice, really does seem to be the catalyst for creating your own calm… and is the gateway to your artistic explorations and key to creating your own artistic style and sense of fulfilment from your art.

So how to do it?

When you’re out in nature, start noticing…

Noticing nature - patterns in the rocks

Noticing nature - patterns in the rocks

Art is not so much how you put pen to paper, but how you look, how you see the world around you.

Noticing what you notice, what attracts you, when you stop and stare helps you to practise your own way of seeing and experiencing nature – and so collect inspiration for your own art making.

We can collect inspiration for our art in different ways:

  • Physical objects

  • Photos

  • Memories and feelings

We can use just one, or ideally a combination of these, for our own art making.

Especially when we’re just learning about drawing, it’s incredibly useful to draw from life whenever possible – by ‘drawing from life’ I mean having the object that we’re drawing physically in front of us, so that we could pick it up and touch it (if appropriate).

Drawing elderflowers from life - taking time to really look and feel connected to the subject matter

Drawing elderflowers from life - taking time to really look and feel connected to the subject matter

Art is about looking. So the more easily we are able to look at what we’re drawing, inspect it, understand it – its shape, its form, what’s going on round the back – the more we’re able to translate that into marks on our page… and the more we’re also able to put our own ‘expression’ or ‘style’ onto it that makes it ‘ours’ and makes it ‘art’.

So we can collect objects from nature that we notice when we’re out and about. I have a small nature box that contains my nature treasures – things that caught my attention and called me – little rocks, shells, seed pods, feathers, dried leaves, etc. In this way, I always have a ready source of inspiration to draw from.

Collecting nature inspiration for drawing

Collecting nature inspiration for drawing

I recommend you start your own little nature box so that you can build up your drawing inspiration sources and always have something that you enjoy looking at and handling, ready to inspire you.

Responsible Collecting

Please, be responsible when collecting from nature. There are (many) times when a photograph or a memory is a more appropriate way to collect from nature.

Sometimes, it’s more appropriate to collect your nature inspiration by a photograph

Sometimes, it’s more appropriate to collect your nature inspiration by a photograph

I never take from a living flower or plant and only ever collect what has been discarded onto the ground. Even so, please also be aware and responsible from taking from the ground, including taking pebbles or shells from beaches or taking fallen leaves or seedpods from environmentally sensitive or protected areas.

You should also make yourself aware of any relevant laws or regulations regarding collecting wild plants, lichens, or flowers; or any local rule or instruction regarding taking from nature in gardens, parks and nature reserves.

Although I love to collect for my nature box, it’s not always possible or appropriate – so taking a photo is a very good second choice.

Mindful Collecting

The key to mindfully taking your inspiration photos is not just to snap and move on. Just like when we start stopping and really being present, (find this in the PDF download), this is the mindset we need to call on when taking photos for our art – and it’s what we’ll recall and draw on later, once we’re actually drawing.

We’re making memories and creating emotions – so let’s make them good ones!

Becoming absorbed in nature - the colours, the flowers, how it makes us feel!

Becoming absorbed in nature - the colours, the flowers, how it makes us feel!

When we stop and notice something that attracts us, we can now ‘collect’ it. Take a moment to notice how you’re feeling in this precise moment.

  • What you can you see, hear, feel, and smell at the moment?

  • How does this moment make you feel inside?

This is when we can, now, consciously click the shutter in the camera of our mind’s eye – or of our camera-for-real, if we have one. In this way we can store our memory, together with our emotion, our feeling in this moment. What was your connection with nature in this moment?

When we start drawing from our collected inspiration, later, we can now more easily recall and access these feelings. And our art becomes a much more meaningful and enjoyable exercise.

It’s always best if you can draw from your own inspiration and your own sparks of interest and joy in life, for your art. But I know that it can take a good long while to build up your own collection of inspiration… and even to build up an understanding of what attracts you and what you like to draw and create art from. The exercise below can help you with this…

Drawing from a fallen branch collected from the ground

Drawing from a fallen branch collected from the ground

Collecting from Nature Exercise

  • Go out in nature and collect some inspiration (either physically collecting, taking photos, or taking memory snap-shots)

  • Reflect on what you’ve collected

o   What do you want to capture and take home with you?

o   What do these things mean to you?

o   Why?

o   What are you noticing about them?

  • How do you prefer to collect your inspiration?

  • Could you start your own nature box?

Next: We’ll look at how to connect with these feelings when you make your own meaningful and expressive drawings from these connections with nature in the next drawing lesson.

Would you like help with making your art more personal, more creative, and more you…? With the option for help and feedback from me on your drawings (or a DIY option) plus practical drawing exercises to build your skills combined with inspirational creative prompts to help you draw in your own unique way…

Then you might enjoy my Start Drawing Your Way Essential Drawing Skills online course that takes you all the way from beginner artist to confident and creative drawing in your own way - click here to find out all about it…

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Create personal and expressive drawings as you build up your drawing skills - online drawing course from lotti brown designs - click here…

Create personal and expressive drawings as you build up your drawing skills - online drawing course from lotti brown designs - click here…

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