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October 06, 2017

Creative Nature Connection In Our Own Backyard

Today's guest blog comes from artist Lisa Lipsett, who recently embarked on a creative journey of discovery with students at Creative Nature Connection in Our Own Backyard on Salt Spring Island. Supported by an Artists in the Classroom grant, together, they discovered that the joy of nature and art can be found in any environment.

If this story resonates with you, why not start a creative project of your own? The next deadline to apply for Artists in the Classroom grants is October 16, 2017. Grants of up to $3,500 for small to medium scale projects and grants of up to $10,000 for large scale projects are available. Read on below for more details.



Creative Nature Connection In Our Own Backyard was enthusiastically received by six K-5 Nature Classes at School District 64 on Salt Spring Island, during both the fall and spring terms of the 2016-17 school year. The classes had six sessions each term of contemplative nature based drawing and painting where they explored textures, sounds, patterns, light, movement, natural pigments, primitive printmaking and painting with clouds and raindrops. At the beginning of each session, students played warm up exploratory games like Touch Tourist & Tour Guide, and Camera & Photographer. They got “in touch” with nature textures, “tuned in” to the local soundscape and “saw beyond” first glances to notice miniature worlds and tiny treasures. These warm up games were good for working on trust and using the senses to experience nature in fresh ways.

Using combinations of both hands, eyes closed and eyes opened, students tried out fun yet surprisingly efficient ways to shift into “art mind” where they could draw and paint with natural ease.

In the second term, students reviewed earlier learning then used wild crafted plant pigment to make colour, painted smells, drew shadows and clouds, learned about making prints with found materials, painted with rain drops and developed their own signature styles. Each student filled a folded two-sided 16 panel Nature Art Book with drawings and paintings in the fall term and a larger 6 panel book in the spring.

Art & Nature Discoveries

Children made so many amazing discoveries about themselves, nature, their art process and how the materials worked. It was very rewarding to watch children’s art attention span lengthen with each session. Children expanded their ability to stay connected to plants and animals as they drew and painted. Their ability to manage the art materials and be innovative also improved. Most rewarding was how even the most reluctant students (often the youngest boys) were fully participating by the last session and often making very interesting discoveries about how to make found materials work in innovative ways.

One exciting outcome of the sessions was that students appreciated all the exciting ways they could make colour using materials easily found in their own schoolyard or in local parks. When students did primitive “smushing” prints using plants, they loved to pound leaves & flowers into the paper using their feet, rocks, logs and whatever they could find!

They also discovered that shadows are ever-changing and mesmerizing to draw and paint. Students discovered that tracing a shadow is another way to draw realistically. In fact shadows were so compelling, there could have been a full 6 weeks just working with them alone. Many students hadn't drawn plant shadows before. This was exciting. As they worked with shadows birds came closer. Students seemed really focused and astonished at how interesting and prolific the shadows were.

Since they came back again and again to their nature books and sit spots, students began to see how well dirt and flowers held up, what new plants were growing in the yard as the seasons changed and how their art also changed over time.

They appreciated each other's work and unique art method.  They also appreciated the synergy of sharing with each other at the end of each session. Students learned to use art words like line, shape, colour, and perspective to describe what they saw in each other’s work.

Finally here are some videos and slideshows of the student participating in Creative Nature Connection In Our Own Backyards and some of the art they made.

Video of the first six sessions Creative Nature Connection

Slide Show of 2017 Nature Art Encounters

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