Yes, I go outdoors without thinking of creativity. I create without thinking of the outdoors. But when the two interconnect, it reinforces the experience. So Creativity & Wellbeing Week’s 2022 theme, Get Creative Get Outdoors, is a powerful one.
Creativity and wellbeing combine the inner and the outer all the time. As I try to create, I’m expressing how I experience the world, how I see and feel. Creatvity becomes an outward expression, which is partly why it helps my inner wellbeing. #GetCreativeGetOutdoors mirrors this interplay.
Getting creative can literally get us outdoors, maybe to create then and there, maybe to take photos of a view or plants to draw or paint another time, or to gather garden flowers to use for craft. But it works the other way too. Getting outdoors can spur creativity, as a way to respond to what you see, to capture the moment or to feel part of nature. It’s a way to connect actively, not just observe, and this is what’s so helpful. I do like to walk and “just observe” as well, but I know I experience nature more closely if it gets me creating. This opens up a different perspective on life, and on what I see. I watch birds more closely than I used to do before I painted or drew them regularly: the way they move, the angle of their body or head as they dart onto the ground or look up while they feed or preen. I look at plants more closely as well now, at the shape of their flower petals or at the catkins I saw yesterday, fallen from an alder tree. So I get more absorbed y nature because I want to try to reproduce what I see, in art or craft.
Maybe you enjoy transient art, using natural materials outdoors, like stones or leaves to arrange on the ground. I recently heard about Sean Corcoran in Ireland’s Co. Waterford, who creates sand art using a rake and a stick on the beach, art he photographs before it is lost to the next tide. Or maybe you enjoy setting up an easel outdoors or just sitting on the grass to draw, close to the elements, come rain or shine? I never do more than an occasional quick sketch outdoors, but “the outdoors” follows me home, and spurs me on to create all the time. So in a way nature comes inside.
The #GetCreativeGetOutdoors theme strikes a particular chord with me because integral to Medley, my arts for wellbeing initiative, is an intersectional approach, combining art with nature and music where possible. I like to follow themes across all three: listening to songs or pieces of music, trying art or craft and thinking of ways to connect with nature, all on one theme, as I do in my regular Creative Ideas (mainly used by care homes) and also in other parts of my Medley work. A multi-sensory focus adds other layers. For example, when I ran a Birds A-Z art for wellbeing project last year, participants shared how they enjoyed not only the creativity itself but also discovering new bird species and learning more about nature. They found this absorbed and focused their minds more, and I agreed.
So art and nature feed each other, stimulate each other – and us, literally opening doors. Would you like to share any thoughts or responses? Are you trying to #GetCreativeGetOutdoors? It would be great to hear any responses in Medley’s Facebook group https://www.facebook.com/groups/359291215486002 or in Medley’s new Facebook group focused on art for mental health, Think Art – https://www.facebook.com/groups/244072321150998