connect to nature through art

A walk in the woods.

 

The dappled sunshine on your face. The birds twittering and the leaves rustling in the breeze. Deep breaths of fresh, cool air and the crunch of twigs and old leaves under your feet. 

 

Ahh. Can you feel yourself calm down, even just 1% when you imagine that?

 

That’s something we all experience. A shared part of the human condition that’s been called ‘biophilia‘. Meaning ‘love of life’, it describes our deep emotional resonance with other lifeforms and nature as a whole. 

 

It’s something most of us are aware of in our own lives and has been described by philosophers dating back to Aristotle. The Romantics of the 19th century such as Henry Thoreau and William Wordsworth so beautifully described it at a time in our history when industrialisation was disconnecting more and more people from nature:

 

“There are moments when all anxiety and stated toil are becalmed in the infinite leisure and repose of nature.”

Henry David Thoreau

 

And since then just think about how much more urbanisation has taken place. In fact it was in 2008 that, for the first time, more people on the planet lived in cities than didn’t. 

 

We evolved to be soothed by nature

 

Like the Romantics, I like to believe there’s something spiritual at play with our experience of beauty and with nature. But if you’re more scientific in your leanings, there’s also recent biology-based theories for why connecting with nature helps us feel better.

 

Our need to connect to nature makes a lot of sense when you think of our evolution, as Clemens Arvay writes in The Biophilia Effect (2015) :

 

“Homo sapiens didn’t evolve over millions of years among cement blocks and densely built-up cities, but in natural habitats dominated by plants and animals, rivers, mountains, lakes, hills and meadows…Our evolutionary home is nature.”

 

The benefits of connecting with nature

 

The Nature Fix by Florence Williams (2017), is a study of the science behind nature’s positive effects on the brain. She writes:

 

“We’re losing our connection to nature more dramatically than ever before. Thanks to a confluence of demographics and technology, we’ve pivoted further away from nature than any generation before us. At the same time we’re increasingly burdened by chronic ailments made worse by time spent indoors, from myopia and vitamin D deficiency to obesity, depression, loneliness and anxiety among others.”

 

Williams cites a tonne of studies that prove what most of us know to be true: that when we connect to nature, it:

 

 

As Williams’ book makes clear, being out in nature is crucial for good physical and mental health. But she also explains that we often under-estimate the benefits this will have on us: hence we don’t make time to do it enough.

 

Can making nature-related-art do this for us too?

 

I didn’t need persuading about how beneficial it is to connect to nature. I’ve written before about the role gardening and walking play in achieving a level of balance in my own life (both of which have been in short supply since I’ve had my children which I find hard to handle). 

 

But what I’ve also experienced is that doing the kind of deep, meditative looking I do when I am painting my nature-themed subjects also brings me enormous well-being benefits. 

 

Some of that comes from being in the flow state, and from the effects of colour, but I’ve noticed that whenever I’ve painted non-nature subjects, the benefits overall are less. I’ve put that down to my own personal preferences for subject matter, and of course that probably plays a part. But I’ve recently come across research that shows that viewing nature imagery can also bring about the soothing effects of being in nature.

 

A 2013 study and a  2015 study showed that just looking at still images of nature is enough ‘natural’ stimulus to lower our stress levels in a way that looking at images of the built environment is not.

 

The 2013 study by Brown, Barton and Gladwell found that people who viewed an image of nature before experiencing a stressful event recovered from the stress more quickly than people who were shown ‘built’ environments. In the group who were shown nature scenes, their parasympathetic nervous system returned to a natural state more quickly. 

 

The 2015 study by Van den Berg, Maas et al. found that five minutes of viewing an urban green space can support recovery from stress. These findings show that even just looking at green space can provide ‘micro-restorative opportunities’, i.e. when we connect to nature, it helps us to restore ourselves from stress.

 

And those studies weren’t covering the kind of deep looking we do when we paint something from life or a photo. So I’m willing to bet that the benefits would be shown to be magnified if that were studied. 

 

This is good news for times when getting out to connect to nature first-hand is hard. 

 

  • When you’re under lock-down in the middle of a global pandemic (hello!)
  • When you’re recovering from illness
  • When you just don’t fancy getting out because it’s cold, grey and rainy (otherwise known as ‘January’ here in the UK!)

 

But ideally creating nature-inspired art can be done in addition to getting out in nature, for a double dose of nature and the associated benefits. These benefits include boosting your immune system, making it the perfect pandemic activity. 

 

In fact, I recommend that if you have a nature-inspired art session, that you connect to nature more deeply by listening to nature sounds at the same time for a triple dose of nature! Again, research is also proving that nature sounds (especially bird song and water sounds) are soothing to us as well. I have used the Noisli app for these but there are loads of others.

 

What are your own experiences of being in nature and of painting nature subjects?

 

Are the two in any way linked for you?

 

Do you find that painting nature subjects helps you to connect to nature, and does this enhance your feeling of connection to our world?

 

And does painting nature bring you any other benefits?

 

I’d love to hear about your experiences so please do leave a comment below.

 

Happy painting,

95 Comments
  1. Linda Mowery 2 weeks ago

    I have found that spending time in nature, immersed in the the natural beauty surrounding me gives me calm and serenity. Whether or not I’m just going for walks, relaxing outside, or contemplating the things I see to visualize different ways to reproduce this beauty in art. All of the above creates in me a happy heart and a brighter countenance.

  2. Susan Amon 2 weeks ago

    Anna,
    I just came in from going about my yard/garden and takin photos of all of the flowers that are in bloom, and was transferring the pics to my computer, when I opened my email to see that the newest received was from you! Yes, connecting to nature is a healing, emancipating, and calming experience!

    Taking the photos was me getting ready to completing a painting from one of my photos that has been a struggle. I hope to complete the piece today.

    thanks for the nature check!

    • Katherine Ford 2 weeks ago

      That is so funny because just 10 minutes ago, I walked out on my patio and took pictures of my flowers with the the dew left from a rainy night. I was so depressed yesterday and to wake up to a crisp cool morning with sun casting long shadows and dew drops, I could just feel my soul lifting up. Amazing. I have been working on a workbench painting for some time now and I have been stuck, perhaps I should go back to painting flowers for awhile.

  3. Denise Kahans 2 weeks ago

    Hi, I live in a Forrest and I have birds singing all day long! Squirrels and possums too!
    I have a small garden with water fountain which also brings hummingbirds! I sit outside and meditate and my energy is soooo positive and I feel peaceful!

  4. Mary 2 weeks ago

    The things that make me feel human again and grateful to be alive: some dirt or sand to dig in (with bare hands); listening to the sounds of nature (a running brook or waves, song birds; time away from the chatter of people and the ringing of devices). And yes, painting nature (birds in particular). I’d like to work on painting flowers as well. I know how hard it is for you right now with your little ones, but trust me — a day will come when you will look back and wish you could go back in time to experience those precious moments again.

    • Andrea 2 weeks ago

      Hi Mary, I would like to underline your last sentence: Having little kids is such a lot of work. Of course we do love them but we so desperately would like to have more time. But as you say: try to enjoy every minute you spend with your kids. Time flies and within a couple of years they have grown and you wish you could have some of those precious moments again.
      But having a husband who is there for the kids and you helps a lot. And I think Anna is lucky to have someone supporting her.

    • Kerry Mole 1 week ago

      Thankyou for this post, I sure did feel a sense of calm once reading your beautiful poem. I

      I enjoy lots of walks throughout the countryside, woods, quiet beach anywhere near water I feel most peaceful when outdoors listening to the sounds of nature. It really does make me feel good after going on a mindfulness walk, I feel energised, and recharged soon after my connection with nature.

      I am a photographer and aim to paint some of my beautiful pictures that I have taken in the near future once I have mastered some important skills of developed confidence in tonal ranges.

      Kerry x

  5. Ann McDougle 2 weeks ago

    Nature has always reached into my soul. Even when I was a child. It is so reassuring and fulfilling. I am a gardener and I do photography and watercolors. I can only aspire to get to your level! I love the minutiae of the flowers and plants, the details, so complex and delicate. I want to crawl right in there so I don’t miss anything. When I am in my gardens I listen to see if I can hear them growing and of course, I do!
    Your work is exquisite and I see how much you love what you do!

    • Author
      Anna Mason 2 weeks ago

      Love that idea of listening to them! Haha, love it Ann.

  6. Caroline Biscoe 2 weeks ago

    We are so lucky living in a very rural spot on the Black Isle in the Scottish Highlands. During lockdown we set up a wildlife camera to capture the antics of the many visitors to our little wildlife feeding area on the edge of the forest. We have now recorded so many woodland birds, hedgehog, badger, bank voles, wood mice, pine martens and this morning had our first visit from a red squirrel. I have found that painting wildlife from the photos we are able to take has been a wonderful escape from the worries during this time. It’s a shame I can’t post my favourite of our local pine marten who has become so trusting she will take an egg from my hand.
    Thank you for brightening our days with your wonderful creations!
    Caroline

    • Author
      Anna Mason 2 weeks ago

      Wow, how wonderful to have all that wildlife on your doorstep Caroline!

  7. Julie Kendall 2 weeks ago

    Oh Anna! I love this post SO much! Ever since I was a little girl, I lived to play outside. I have always found comfort and healing in nature. Now that I have to spend all of this time indoors as a grownup working behind a computer with the numbers, emails, and paperwork, it wears on me..
    I became desperate to at least “see” nature. So, part of my solution is to collect digital nature photos and keep them in a folder on my work computer. I take breaks every day to just look through the pictures and dream of painting them. It breaks up the monotonous pile of paperwork that tries to pull me down and whisks me away to a place of happiness even for just a few minutes here and there. I confessed to my boss and that was a mistake. Maybe we aren’t all wired this way??? Haa
    Thank you for validating my need to virtually escape throughout the day. Im NOT crazy! Keep taking those VIRTUAL NATURE BREAKS!
    Love, Julie

    • Erin 2 weeks ago

      I used to have paintings on my office wall of places I enjoyed spending in my time off. Even though my colleagues rolled their eyes come on they sure enjoyed coming to my office and relaxing looking at those paintings! Your colleagues and boss probably enjoy it more than they are willing to admit!

  8. Joy Elizxabeth Reardon 2 weeks ago

    Hi Anna
    Thank you for this email.
    I find that the noises of nature lift me the most. Walking in the woods listening to the trees rusting, or if its raining the sound on the leaves, running water, birds singing, the butterfly that gives you time to look at it. Certainly images of nature are lifting too.

  9. Carol 2 weeks ago

    I hadn’t thought about my particular experience so deeply, Anna. However, there was a point in the past when husband was working out of London. I could only spend four days at most there before heading back to my house and garden in a small village.
    I have found that during the Covid 19 episode, I’ve been eternally grateful for living in a beautiful spot sur rounded by the sights and sounds of the natural world. The birds and bees, butterflies and cows in my nearby field are totally oblivious to the pandemic pandemonium….. Nature goes on regardless, and we renew!

  10. Sandy Dick 2 weeks ago

    I live in the mountains of Southern Colorado and have a forest of Ponderosa pines for my backyard. I walk out into them almost daily, they transform me and give me peace in a time when things are not so peaceful. It is my great escape. I love taking picture of them from the bark, to the needles, the rough cones and to the canopy in the sky.

    Peace to all,
    Sandy

    • Erin 2 weeks ago

      I lived for 6 years in the mountains of Southern Colorado and miss it every day! Such purity and elemental beauty! Memories of their place sustain me and I go back and visit as often as possible. The shimmering sunlight on those pine needles…the scent of juniper in the air on a hot, summer day. Wonderful!

  11. Sharon 2 weeks ago

    Hello Anna,
    Great e mail! I only paint nature. Mostly flowers and trees. Would like to try some birds.

    We live in the country and feed everything that flies. Even purchase bags and bags of meal worms (freeze dried, of course). Bluebirds have successfully produced 6 babies this year and are not nesting for yet another addition.

    Thank you for your notes. Inspiring, yes!

    Would like to send you some photos, but can not with this message.

  12. Sue sproat 2 weeks ago

    Hi. As a beekeeper and living in Cotswold I see lot of nature. Which is were I want to paint. Done you pear and a flower and there are great thank you. I go to Cath Hodsmans insects paint courses so hopefully I will get so much better.

  13. tonia boterf 2 weeks ago

    I spent a great deal of my life in natural surroundings, then in gardening (veg and flowers), but life can throw curve balls. I can no longer do as before but had to find new ways – thus painting which also involved nature photos taken by others. I find inner peace thru nature now thru any form, I find it amazing as I “see” nature and then try to put the name of colors to everything I “see”. Nature soothes the soul in every form it takes.

  14. Steve Singleton 2 weeks ago

    The Native Americans understood the connection between nature and the human spirit. Those who meditate use sounds of wind through trees, babbling brooks, rainstorms…all intended to bring us back to God’s creation.
    I am most at peace on my back patio in the mornings; facing a sunrise, with birds chirping everywhere & a gentle breeze. Peace on earth!!

    Only wish my painting skills brought the same level of peace!! Lol. Oh well, I’ll keep practicing.

  15. Judith LOTT 2 weeks ago

    Hello Anna
    I am lucky to live in a beautiful part of North-East France….in the middle of the Vosges Mountains. Lockdown for me was a great experience and I was (almost) sorry to see it end. This is a purely selfish tale from someone who didn’t catch the dreaded virus but I expect others can relate to it. Not only was the weather so good for several weeks from March 15th onwards, a lot of background sounds disappeared and were replaced by birds singing and the grass growing….yes, I swear I could hear it!! I have acres and acres of meadows and coniferous forests all around my village and I spent hours walking in them all alone. Once I started my almost daily walks, I became hooked and felt I really needed to continue. Some bad weather which kept me mostly indoors for the last 2 or 3 weeks, ended yesterday. Today it is nearly 30° outside but this morning at 9am the woods were cool and breezy and as beautiful as ever. I do feel resourced and re-centered by nature and come home with an itch to create….something. My painting skills have not yet developed enough for me to feel fulfilled by this creativity but I am persevering. I bring home ideas of things to paint and look at every flower….at the moment it’s the Foxgloves, while wondering how to put them down on paper.
    I am sure that creativity is awakened in all of us when our brains are no longer encumbered by everyday life and its problems……and a walk in the woods can certainly help to achieve this. It is as if nature is helping to calm us down so that we can fully appreciate her.

    With greetings from a quietened mind
    Love
    Judith

  16. Hanna 2 weeks ago

    I love nature, it calms me and gives me joy. I often get inspiring thoughts while I’m out in nature. Great article, thanks.

  17. Liliana Cattaneo 2 weeks ago

    Gracias por tus palabras y las de todas las personas que dejaron sus comentarios tan positivos y refrescantes. En mi caso, estamos solos con mi marido sin posibilidad de ver a nuestro hijos y nietos, acaba de nacer Aurora en mayo y sólo la conocemos por foto y amado zoom¡¡
    Salgo al bañcón cuando el clima me lo permite (vivo en el piso 21), pero tengo montañas nevadas al frente y disfruto de ese paisaje. Pintar me hace muy bien¡¡¡¡ Me olvido de todo y se me pasan las horas. Estoy por comenzar un proyecto nuevo que tiene que ver con hojas distintas. En mi balcón tengo geranios y adentro acabo de comprar un mandarino que estoy cuidando como un bebé
    Ante la imposibilidad de salir, pienso sacar algunos modelos de internet que igual me encanta ver por la variedad que existe. Gracias otra vez por esta linda oportunidad y hasta pronto¡¡¡

  18. Emma Marcellin 2 weeks ago

    This past weekend we had Art in the Park in the city at Rockwood Park. It was very nice to get out. It reset me into painting again. I hadn’t been out other than to work since February. So I felt very relaxed and uplifted from this.
    I didn’t get to swim. However for the 6 hours I was out there painting I felt peace.

  19. Jo Ann Frommer Rom 2 weeks ago

    I love walking in Nature in Arizona, inspite of the heat this time of year. We walk early in the morning and experience the birds, the plants, trees and all of nature, including the lizards. I love to paint flowers, birds and all things nature. Just fun and relaxing. I try to paint everyday or do something artistic. Thanks for the thoughts.

  20. Linda Howe 2 weeks ago

    I am lucky that I can easily take walks in the beautiful Welsh countryside. Unfortunately, now that I have taken up water colour painting as a hobby I want to rush home and paint all the time!!

    As a newbie my skill levels are still developing and I sometimes find it frustrating that I make make so many mistakes. Anna, I’ve painted your pear 3 times now, and have enjoy each attempt. If only I didn’t drop my brush or overdo the shadow section I’d be delighted.

    I paint in my loft space and so only have skylights to view the outside – today a Jackdaw landed on the open window and watched me paint for about five minutes. It was a delight to watch him with the sunlight on his feathers. Time spent painting makes me calm & energised at the same time.
    I’m having a blast in lock down as I feel I have ‘permission’ to allow myself to spend my time on a thing I now love.

    • Author
      Anna Mason 2 weeks ago

      I’m thrilled for you Linda that your lockdown experience has been so freeing! Who’d have thought 🙂

  21. Kelly Driessen 2 weeks ago

    I agree 100%. I am a applied biology student, there is a lot of resreach involved which happens outside in the field! Im s happy when Im outside and look at the diversity of nature ❤

  22. Dorothea Burstyn 2 weeks ago

    I think there are scientific studies which state that walking in the forest or parks help one’s immune system, I don’t know if this is true for painting, but anyhow any activity which gives satisfaction and joy should be good for your well-being. In Toronto we are very lucky, even though it is a city with millions of people we have many green spaces, and hopefully after this Covid-19 time they will all be open again for our enjoyment.

  23. Elena Rose 2 weeks ago

    I have pretty severe PTSD from some traumatic events that occurred when I served in the military. My two most powerful tools for coping are working hard in the yard/ garden and painting flowers. Your tutorials have helped me hone my skills to a level I didn’t know I was capable of and your videos are so soothing to watch. I tend to paint more in the winter while it is cold out and the garden sleeps.

  24. Rita 2 weeks ago

    Hi Anna,

    I so agree with your article. I love to paint from your books and also the pictures I take in my garden. I find painting flowers so relaxing and love the challenge they give me. I live close to the ocean and find great peace at the waters edge with the eagles flying above.

    Cheers and thank you,
    Rita

  25. Joan Damron 2 weeks ago

    We live in Fort Mohave, Arizona, and we spend a couple of hours each evening in our backyard in our pool, or just looking out over the field where we experience the calm that you and Thoreau are talking about. We see God’s magnificent creatures……roadrunners, desert hare families, quail families, hummingbirds, doves, geckos, prairie dogs. and a couple of times a coyote. As we admire God’s handiwork, it reminds us that we serve the Almighty God. Knowing God gives us peace and joy in these trying times. When I attempt to draw or paint something from nature, I feel closer to the One who created everything.

    • Author
      Anna Mason 2 weeks ago

      Beautifully put Joan. I would love to visit the Arizona countryside one day too.

  26. Kate Fletcher 2 weeks ago

    I put it down to painting all the acres of green which you have to do some of if you’re going to paint flowers. Green is restful to the eyes.

    And there are no straight lines, perfect circles or jarring right angles to look at. Just endless contemplation of the fibonacci sequence or trying to paint the blemishes which are aways weird and interesting shapes!

  27. Gail Curtis 2 weeks ago

    Thank you Anna for this beautiful post. YES! Being a hiker and gardener I love being surrounded by nature and am naturally drawn to painting things I love. In lock down doing your tutorials has been extremely beneficial and i have felt constantly peaceful And delighted by the happiness I feel when painting a beautiful flower. Excellent for a healthy mind body and spirit.

  28. Diane Sloan 2 weeks ago

    Anna, you are a breath of fresh air. I love reading your blog. I totally agree with you regarding the benefits of being in and/or contemplating nature. Truly we are surrounded by creation if we take the time to see rather than just look.
    Your art is stunning. Keep on keeping on.
    Thanks,
    Diane Sloan

  29. Erin 2 weeks ago

    All of my art (painting, glass, fabric, etc.) is inspired and informed by nature. I have lived both in a loft in a downtown large city where I burned candles that smelled like the outdoors to feel that I was immersed in nature; and I have lived in the veritable wilderness in several areas of 3 continents. I cannot imagine life, much less art, not infused with nature, our natural refuge! I often tell people that I crave the wilderness like some people crave food and water. I often have created for friends to give them what I call a window into nature when they can’t get there. I agree that the close looking we do at whatever in nature’s inspiring our creativity, is also calming, healing, and…essential!

  30. Jim Powell 2 weeks ago

    Nature is at the heart of who I am. Just to smell the soil and the grass. When spring arrives and everything blooms life is positive. The weeds, that some people call, dot the landscape with the beauty from God’s own hand blending with the green grass and trees. To get out and enjoy the warmth, the birds, the beauty around us. God made everything in nature then He made us. Think about that.
    I’m not much into painting flowers but I have. Much less pressure to get it right. No one wants to buy my paintings but they want me to do one for them. Photo realistic watercolor is my medium with emphasis on landscapes.
    Thanks for letting me talk.

  31. Aldie Hockley 2 weeks ago

    Hi Anna, I live on 360 acres with trees, a small river running through, and so yes what you’re saying resonates with me. When man was made God set him into a garden and I believe our great longing is to get back there.
    Blessings
    Aldie

  32. Charylene Peterson 2 weeks ago

    I live in the Mojave desert and at the base of a mountain that has a view of the city. It has been very relaxing to go to
    the front patio and look out and enjoy the plants and wild life during our stay in rules. Lucky to be apart of the
    nature in our world.

  33. Barbara Marx 2 weeks ago

    All the comments are so interesting and stimulating which leads me to wish we could have an entire scene in a tutorial!
    Cheers,
    Barbara Marx

  34. Annie Littlewolf 2 weeks ago

    Anna, thank you for such a wonderful post! I put the books you cited into my cart at Amazon.
    I love to get outside, and lucky for us (husband and me) we live in the Blue Ridge Mountains of southwest Virginia – so the views are incredible!
    I used to love doing abstracts in acrylics – I was actually afraid of watercolors, having never tried them. But then I did, and though I’m absolutely no tremendous painter, I’m learning – following your youtube tutorials (and thank you teaching all of us for free!).
    Oddly enough, I have become entranced painting flowers (roses right now) and mushrooms! I have a friend who is a mycologist, and he sends me photos of what he has found – and I take the ones that seem like they’d be most effective done in watercolor, and paint them. I recently gave two framed watercolors of two of his pics of Amanitas that he took.
    This marks quite a change for me – painting realistically (but loosely) versus just abstract. I am not going to abandon my love for abstracts, but have found some tutorials on doing abstracts in watercolor, so I’ll be adding them too.
    I just wanted to let you know, that while my mycologist friend advises me to GET OUTSIDE more, I understand, and try – but I’d rather be sitting in my studio, painting! Since he doesn’t paint, I’m not sure he understands. I’m glad that others do!!!

    • Author
      Anna Mason 2 weeks ago

      I hope to visit the Blue Ridge Mountains and see those views one day Annie. So pleased you’re enjoying painting nature too.

  35. Esperanza 2 weeks ago

    Hi Anna, I have a house in the North of Spain (my country) surrounded by mountains and forest, so, as you can imagine, I love to go there as soon as I can, because I live in Madrid and very stressed. When I go there, I feel calm and in this moment I painted my best pictures and drawings. The landscape, the silence and my prefer deck chair with a cup of coffee…. that’s enough ❤️

    • Author
      Anna Mason 2 weeks ago

      Sounds heavenly. Views of landscape are so soothing.

  36. Nanette Davis 2 weeks ago

    Thank you, Anna, for reminding us all of the incredible healing power of nature. At work, I had no window, and I write and do web work all day long. The twice daily walks around the block were lifesavers, at least for the fresh air and the trees (and YES, the screensavers of nature scene just to give my eyes a break!).. Since I’ve been working from home over the past few months, I love the early mornings on my patio to listen to the birds in the trees, enjoy the scent of orange blossoms and fresh-cut grass. One afternoon, I even grabbed an old blanket and stretched out on it under a tree in my backyard for a few moments of sunshine bliss. So rejuvenating! But BY FAR the MOST energizing time is spent painting nature. I set up everything on my patio, watch your tutorials and turn on an audio book while I paint (thanks for that tip!).. Hours go by and instead of feeling tired, I just feel at peace.

  37. Diane O. 2 weeks ago

    This is why I can never live in the city. When I look out my windows, I have to see trees, otherwise I’d lose my mind! I find myself creating art mostly with natural objects such as trees, plants, and animals as the subject, and even if I’m painting a portrait or inanimate object, I include bits of nature.

    • Author
      Anna Mason 2 weeks ago

      It’s such a real, strong feeling, that need for greenery to look out on!

  38. RoseV 2 weeks ago

    Hi Anna, we have not chatted personally but here goes, I am a landscape designer in South Africa – which is a very different land. This last week I was able to visit an old client and with the help of only ONE staff member we are trimming, composting and feeding the entire garden (about quarter of an acre). I have aches and pains all over the place but it was just so good to get out there again after all our lock down restrictions. We have to wear masks and sanitize everything…. But it is a small price to pay for being our in nature again. Hopefully I can do some art soon but right now it is survival time. Take care and be safe.
    Rose

  39. Vera Butler 2 weeks ago

    I love to sit and watch the bees – so many different kinds. I was watching one today (a white tailed bumble bee) practically disappear as he burrowed into a fuchsia blossom. I think painting equals meditation, the way we forget the time when we are engrossed.

  40. Nina Lum 2 weeks ago

    Ms. Anna,
    Agree 100%. Walking barefoot on grass, running fingers through leaves, cupping flowers in both hands, and watching cardinals feed …bliss.
    You inspire me. Your art is amazing. Thank you so much for sharing your work!!

  41. CATHY VanLeit 2 weeks ago

    I have a special place to live on the 11th floor of a high-rise condo. Most of our outer wall is glass so I am surround by a forest of trees and blue skies. I even enjoy the summer thunderstorms. One of the first things I do each morning is ride my bike about 8 miles through tunnels made of trees on a path in our city. I’ve named each of the areas, but my favorite feels like I am in a cathedral with the sun shining through the leaves making it look like a work of art.

    We also go camping quite a bit and I love the quiet and peaceful beauty of the streams, lakes and forests. I feel connected to God, the creator of all, which gives me peace and contentment. The first time I tried painting was on one of our camping trips. I always take my paints. Thank you for the encouragement!

  42. Janette 2 weeks ago

    I live in Scotland where we have lots of rain but beautiful countryside. I have a huge garden thankfully which has kept me busy and sane during my isolation. I am not an artist but love to try and copy flowers. My late son was really good with pencil and ink drawing and I have been trying some of that with a bit of colour added at times.
    Thank you for your tips and for helping to keep us all adjusted. My garden is right on the edge of the countryside so I have lots to watch right on my doorstep. Nature is wonderful.
    Janette

  43. Al Fritsch 2 weeks ago

    Hi Ann,
    I not only feel invigorated by nature, especially after walking in the wood, but also by the beautiful flowers.. I think that they are one of the greatest gifts that we have have. My favorite thing to do, during the different seasons, is going out side with my camera and take lots of pictures with my camera of nature. This gives me a lot of picture that I can paint during the years. However. this year, I have not done much other than tend to the house. Painting has seemed to go on the back burner. Yet, I know that i must carve a portion of my day to paint, no matter what. It is the only activity that really gives me pleasure and relaxation other than playing the piano.

  44. DianaB 2 weeks ago

    Even though I grew up in the inner city, New York to be exact I have alway loved nature. We lived in a high rise so I was able to look out my window and see the tops of the trees. Now I live in a beautiful area of Long Island with lots of trees, the bay on one side and the ocean on the other. Vacations are usually in the mountains. I have only been painting for about three years and I never really found my niche. But now I am drawn to just painting a flower or bird etc… I too find the focus of creating these beauties of nature so joy filled

  45. Margaret Longbotham 2 weeks ago

    Several times a week I walk down the lane to pick up rubbish. The Lane is about 4 miles there and back. As I look into the hedge backs I look at what is growing and how it varies with the seasons. I look at leaves and promise myself that I will paint a series of them in my sketch book. I examine the flowers of what would normally be called weeds and wonder at their detail. By the time I get back home I feel much more relaxed. Learning to paint makes you look at plants in a different way and wonder if I would be able to paint the dog roses or the honeysuckle to say nothing of the brambles which are now flowering. Looking at nature and it’s wonders certainly helps cause frustrations in this time of uncertainty. Margaret

  46. margaret Longbotham 2 weeks ago

    What I meant to say was that it eases frustrations not cause them. Margaret

  47. Ruth McGhie 2 weeks ago

    We were made in the garden…. not wonder its here we feel most at home, most at peace, most human, most soothed, rested, and relaxed.
    Here our pulse slows, our breathing becomes deeper and slower, and our mind relaxes and we can think more clearly.
    It’s here that life slows down.
    And oh how we need that.
    We were made for the garden.
    Ruth

    • Ruth McGhie 2 weeks ago

      And of course painting nature has a similar effect for me. Very soothing relaxing and warming!
      Ruth

  48. Jean Curbishley 2 weeks ago

    Hi Anna,l live on a Smallholding with my husband and varies animals.Each evening the bats fly around the house,they are fantastic little creatures.The owls come to say hello and stay for a while then go.The peace and stillness is so soothing,we can sit and listen to birds ,insects and bees.and meditate lovely..We have been self isolating and l can honestly say,l haven’t missed the hustle and bustle.

  49. Linda Johnson 2 weeks ago

    I agree, nature is very relaxing and stress relieving. I am fortunate enough to live in the mountains of Northern Idaho, USA and am inspired by the scenery and critters that we have. (deer, elk, moose, snowshoe hares, cougars, coyotes, etc.). There is always something to paint right outside my home!

  50. DianneR 2 weeks ago

    I’m finding a greater appreciation in our Creator’s creations from your tutorials, Anna. I was amazed at the mauve eyeliner He gave to the tawny owl. And the orangy eyeshadow under the owl’s outer eyebrows. So, He created these eye enhancements before we humans did! As I do each tutorial, I appreciate more and more, the intricate beauty we have in nature and it fills my heart with love, joy and admiration which restores my spirit, energy and creativity.

  51. leslie Muennemann 2 weeks ago

    Yes, I feel a need to be close to live things other than people. It feels like craving Vitamin C and reaching for an orange. My garden is my paradise. I grow vegetables and flowers and this practice keeps me sane and well fed. Digging in dirt without gloves is pure joy. Turning compost and watching all the life in there is another favorite.

  52. Di Brown 2 weeks ago

    Hi Anna
    So nice to see your pics and lovely blogs.
    I have found that I am more tuned into the colour of trees and skies. I am always looking at cloud formations and fascinated with all the odd shapes I see. I am always in awe of our Lords creation and the idea that every blade of grass is different and the amazing colours we see in the flowers. It gives me great joy to reproduce through painting.

  53. Clare Smith 2 weeks ago

    I couldn’t agree more. I live on the edge of the Peak District and would live up there if I could! I went to London before lockdown and felt depressed the whole time, came back and the first thing I wanted to do was get out into the quiet. My week is completely unbearable if I can’t get out for the day at least once.

  54. Catherine Brown 2 weeks ago

    I grew up with nature and bush around me then moved into the city for 30 years and returned later in life. It is now I fully appreciate how valuable nature is. Painting, drawing and photography are ways of recording what you have seen and if you paint and draw in nature you see things deeper.
    Quote ‘ If you haven’t drawn it you haven’t seen it’. The 19th century German botanist, Julius Von Sachs.

  55. CHRISTINE WARDMAN 2 weeks ago

    I am struggling with an illness that is making it difficult to walk far but i have a wonderful labradoddle that insists on a walk morning and evening and i have bought a mobility scooter so i can take him out for his walk on a morning and i make myself walk him on the nature reserve on an evening only for 15-20 mins but it always lifts my mood and is worth the bit of pain just to be outside immersed in nature. enjoying the sounds and the smells, i just wish i could walk for hours.

  56. Pamela Lund 2 weeks ago

    I believe that painting can have much the same effect as being outside in nature. I photograph anything that I find stimulating, whether the details of a petal, crystals in a rock, rust on old farm equipment, or ripples on water reflecting the sunlight. I’m not a particularly good photographer, but I am quite enthusiastic about capturing and taking home my discoveries.. Later, perusing them on my iPhone, my ipad or my big screen, I can relive those moments at anytime. I can zoom in to study the intricate details of the bark. I can discover the bee I didn’t notice on a flower I’ve preserved forever in my portfolio of experiences. Painting from any of these photos is a shared intimacy with nature that lifts my spirits, relaxes and inspires me. It feeds my imagination and I can hear the sounds of the garden or forest, smell the fragrance of summer or the pungent odors of a rain-drenched wood. It doesn’t matter if it’s cold and gray and raining. Painting takes me where I want to be..

  57. Linda 2 weeks ago

    Whenever I feel the need to escape I am fortunate to be able to spend time on our sailboat. I have such wonderful memories and pictures of nature when we sailed from Chicago to Rimouski Canada via the St Lawrence Seaway…a 5-month journey where we encountered Beluga whales, seals, and such wonders of nature without any human contact. Kind of makes you realize how significant you are in life…not!

    • Author
      Anna Mason 2 weeks ago

      Wow, sounds amazing Linda, thanks for sharing that.

  58. Beatrice Tapia 2 weeks ago

    Thank you so much for this post Anna. It is a subject quite dear to my heart. I love nature. It is the most wondrous gift we have been given, I love to walk around my neighborhood and listen to the cacophony of the birds and look at the trees, flowers, and all the green around me. Even during winter, I find the architecture of the trees beautiful and calming. I appreciate the messages we get from nature in so many ways. Nature is accepting of the moment and giving of itself at all times. It is there for us. It heals my soul and inspires me to return more often to go out and experience it. Since, I retired, I’ve learned a lot from the trees and flowers in my neighborhood. I had no idea of the changes each tree experiences! There are such a variety of leaves and shades of green in summer and no matter how much I think I’ve learned, I am always surprised to discover something new growing on some trees that I never noticed before. Every time I pick up a book that I haven’t looked at in years, leaves I find leaves that I collected decades ago. I like to collect leaves, cones, rocks, and twigs and other bits of the outdoors. They are my treasures. Thanks again Anna. I’m happy that you make the effort to inspires us. I need all of the inspiration I can get. I hope my inspiration enters and guides my eyes and hands to create an accurately hued and toned, representation of my subject.

  59. JoM 2 weeks ago

    Taking the dog for a walk through the bush just behind where I live gets me to relax.
    The lazy way of relaxing is watching videos of people like yoursself painting lovely flowers etc

  60. bevh39 2 weeks ago

    Hello Anna,
    After reading all the previous posts I agree with what everyone has said about being in nature. I have had many years as a musician/concert artist and I used to practice every day in front of a big window which leads to the leafy garden. The birds always started to sing together near the window when I practiced. It was so lovely to hear them enhance my music. I even had them in the background in my recordings – very appropriate when I played “”Sleepy Shores”” with recorded waves to enhance the piece of music. People always asked “”how did you get the birds singing””, Answer – ah! very scientific. I am now 80 years old but I still play for my own relaxation and adding painting as well has given me a sense of wonder, greatfulness and peace. Thank you for your continual encouragement and wonderful blogs as well as incredible instruction with our tutorials.

  61. Judy Walker 2 weeks ago

    Hi Anna I could not agree more with you. We bought our house not because it was the right property but because we had a back gate to a series of foot paths through fields and woods which was perfect especially as we have very high energy dogs. Walking and painting are my two favourite pass times and as I was lucky to grow up in the country side in the 50/60’s wild life and nature was all around us and it’s only during the lock down that the bird life and insects have truly flourished and it takes me back to times of less pollution and cars, hopefully the children of today will have had time to connect to nature and in due course it will enrich their world. My mother and sister were both great gardeners and made me appreciate the beauty of flowers, my mother new all the Latin names of all her plants and loved visiting places like Wisley. When I paint and walk I’m in a much happier place. Love Judy xx

  62. Janet Hammond 2 weeks ago

    I am fortunate enough to live in the English Lake District. Cumbria is a rural county and we don’t have a terribly good standard of living (or a very good phone signal in parts!), but boy do we have a good quality of life! All that beauty is on my doorstep and I appreciate every little bit of it. The ‘dawn chorus’ for me begins in the early ours of the morning when it’s barely light and I never tire of hearing it.
    In my youth I did like to travel to other lands and that was interesting and culturally upbuilding, but I always remember travelling back to Cumbria from the airport (cities are a long way from where I live so there is a lot of road travel before I can even get to an airport). As you head back to Cumbria the roads become quieter. It all becomes greener. Then you begin to see the trees, the hills – and in the distance – mountains! After all these years (I’m in my 60’s now) homecoming never fails to make me cry! This is home – this place is in my very core, my inner being – this is where I belong, where I live and where I want to die. I NEVER want to live anywhere else.
    Anna, you talk of nature ‘resetting’ you. I completely understand – that is the experience I get every time I return home after being away. I personally think humans NEED nature. Not money or possessions. I feel the planet has had a short break during the pandemic. I hope people will press the ‘reset’ button now and get off the commercial treadmill – whilst we all need money to live, we need to see that it’s our relationships and the planet we live on that’s important, not the latest car or gadget that will become obsolete in a month’s time and end up in landfill.
    Your school encourages us to scrutinise nature and replicate it in watercolour, and I am very proud to be part of a community that obviously appreciates the beauty of nature.

  63. Ann Henshaw 2 weeks ago

    Hi Anna,
    Thank you for posting this interesting topic. So good to hear everyone’s understanding of nature & it’s wonderful therapeutic effects it has on us all.
    I am so lucky to live by the sea & have a delightful small garden.
    For my early morning walk yesterday, I took a walk around the local Yachting Maria – always a beautiful walk with lots to see. The seagulls flying around dipping & diving in their never ending dace over the sea. Sparrows disappearing into the hedgerows with breakfast for their chicks. With no one else around so early, it feels like I have the place all to myself, enjoying nature at its very best. It does indeed draw you in so that you feel very much a part of our natural world. Returning home feeling refreshed & a contentment that only nature can fulfil.
    My walled garden is always full of flowers this time of year & I never get tired of watching the new blooms appear. My apple tree is hosting an Ivy this year! Which makes a great cover for the birds to nest. The garden swing is underneath & that is my favourite place for relaxing. With a cup of tea, a good book, surrounded with flowers & the birds constantly singing overheard. This is my bliss… I am then ready & relaxed for my art, which is another great place to relax & enjoy your amazing tutorials – which takes me to another place of pure beauty. & joy… Thank you Anna X

  64. Anh 2 weeks ago

    Your art work makes me fell so relax. I love nature and currently i am Living in the highland where i and my family can enjoy the nature. I can teach my children about the nature. I Hope that one day i can draw better then i can draw all the natural things i love.

    Thanks For Your sharing Anna

  65. June 2 weeks ago

    I had been struggling to get painting again but I walk everyday and have decided to paint the wild flowers etc. that I am seeing, I have started a journal and hopefully when its finished it will be a little memory for my lovely grandchildren.
    Focusing on my painting again has made me feel very much more positive in these weird times and I owe you a thank you for being so encouraging and inspiring.
    Long may it last.

    • Author
      Anna Mason 2 weeks ago

      Oh I’m glad to have helped with that June.

  66. Arthur Davies-Patrick 2 weeks ago

    Great to see your thoughts on paper, we have a fantastic wonderful garden areas surrounding Our bungalow what we builT together No grass and low work maintenance, right got that out of the way, as to my painting watercolour is my choice, and with array of flowers. And shrubs just spoilt for choice., and when Maura has her afternoon teas for her lady friends and family in aid of the different cancers, I put together post cards and a pick of any painting for the raffle, this lock in as put them into touch, still I just cannot get enough of your style and paintings just lost for words, so a big thank you Arthur

  67. Diane Ruggles 2 weeks ago

    Dear Anna, I am so blessed that you were brought into my life! My Father, who has passed would be very pleased, as he was a great influence of teaching me about nature as I grew up. “Nature is my Church” was something he would say that has stuck with me. Yes I find nature restorative and find I crave it daily! Your tutorials have been wonderful “medicine” for me! But most of all….and I was just thinking this yesterday. The objects you choose to paint are right for me and I’m sure so many others as well. I do get restored painting nature!! And I feel I reconnect with my Dad as well. He was a nature photographer and birder (ornathologist). I really feel he is pleased with what I am learning from you and the beautiful subjects you share with us all! Thank you Anna!! You are a Blessing!
    Truly, Diane Ruggles ♥

  68. Robyn Handbury 2 weeks ago

    For fifteen years I was lucky enough to own one of Australia’s beautiful English Garden properties in Victoria, Australia. The property is called
    Dreamthorpe!
    To walk around the garden each day and see nature at its best through the seasons was a joy to behold. I always thought I was one of the lucky ones to have tendered to this wonderful garden for a period time in history.
    Winter was my favourite time when all the plants were asleep the garden was quiet and structurally breathtaking.
    Spring was enchanting when everyone woke up and tried to be best in show. The dozens of varieties of daffodils all trying to out do each other. The hellebores
    were unbelievable I loved that you
    had to pick their little heads up
    to see all their beauty.
    This magnificent garden survived one of Australia’s worst bush fires in history. There were some signs in the garden where a few of the giant oak trees were burnt at the base. I would hug these trees and
    encourage them to keep going.
    Now fifteen years on the memories I have of walking in that garden will stay with me for ever. There is nothing more heart warming and grounding than
    Mother Nature.

  69. LadyCinnamon 2 weeks ago

    Hello, Anna,
    You certainly opened a very real and lively topic with this blog, and I couldn’t agree more. Admittedly, cities are here to stay, and they are fascinating places to visit in their own right, but I could never live in one. I really do have to have trees and flowers and wildlife to feel alive myself. I cannot find that feeling in a concrete jungle. My own little sliver of woods, and even smaller sliver of meadow is my private little oasis, and I’m working on creating more of a path through it with as many native plants as I can add each year. Out in it I enjoy the company of bees, butterflies, birds, and this year a colony of chipmunks. I’ve taken many photos out there with the intention of using them for painting.

  70. Margaret Axford 2 weeks ago

    Hi Anna,
    There is nothing like nature to calm the mind. I have just ordered your fist book I have your second one and I love it. I’m trying to paint the Cherry Blossoms at the moment. Think I have taken on a big challenge only done 1 flower but for my first attempt I’m fairly happy. I have never used hot pressed paper before as Iv’e always used cold pressed and it’s been a challenge also. If all goes well I will try and send a picture to you fingers crossed.
    Cheers Margaret

  71. Manisha Shrivastava 2 weeks ago

    Hi Anna! Nature is the biggest healer for me as well.. and painting is my biggest cure for all the chaos going on inside my head. Already with two little kids, i have lesser me time niw as compared to what I used to have earlier. And currently, with this global crisis; that less me time has become No me time at all. We live in Mumbai, which is the top most in India to be affected by the pandemic. We are all locked down in the house for past 104 days and niw its actually taking a toll on my mental state.. trying to deal with it and I can definitely use some help from your blog 🙂 thanks for sharing xoxo

    • Author
      Anna Mason 2 weeks ago

      I feel for you Manisha, it is a very challenging time for you right now. You can’t possibly get through it without a toll to your mental state. Just try to get through each day as it comes and remember it WILL be over one day and you WILL get your life back.

  72. Homa King 2 weeks ago

    Dear Anna,
    Thank you very much for your beautiful paintings and tutorials. I will try to paint a poppy or kingfisher today. Many challenges in life!!!!!

  73. Jane Read 2 weeks ago

    It’s lovely reading all lovely comments of nature. I am very fortunate, I live in a little village, 2 minutes from the beach and I am down there every day with my dogs, it’s wonderful, there are seals and little terns and every day is different. I then read a comment from Manisha who lives in Mumbai, who is struggling and have been in lockdown for 104 days and said that painting is her biggest cure. I hope that things will start to improve in her life and for her children and her mental state.

  74. Gabriela Stanescu 2 weeks ago

    Ever since I moved to Amsterdam, a year ago, life has changed dramatically for me, as we have left our home in Bucharest, I and my husband, who has a contract here. If it hadn’t been for the lush nature that thrives all around me, I would have not coped with quite a challenging time in my life. There is a beautiful park right outside our house, and a multitude of wildlife around it: geese, ducks, paroquets, blackbird, rabbits, hedgehogs. I am deeply in love with trees, and Romania has its share of majestic, healing and impressive specimens. I wish I could have the strength to paint more. Since March, I did nothing! Strangely, but I find it very difficult to raise the brushes, although painting soothes me. Anna, I love your posts and your e-mails. I chose this subscription for a reason. This reason is you. Warmest thoughts for you and your family.

  75. Tommy B 1 week ago

    Thank You For This Lesson…

    I Would Love To See You Paint a Passion Fruit Flower… IT Is One Of My Favorite Flower & So Beautiful…

  76. Rosemary Cox 1 week ago

    Hi Anna,
    The best thing about retirement is that I have endless time to spend in nature and to paint Anna’s Tutorials. It’s relaxing, inspiring and the following is how I see and experience nature and connect that to my paintings.
    Nature at home: Observing the different birds that fly into our garden to take a drink and bathe in the bird bath and to pick worms and bugs from the ground and kiss their shadow in the window. This week I observed the following birds in my garden: 2 pink and grey Galahs (Australian Native bird), 12 New Hollander Honey Eaters (black & yellow), 6 colourful Rosellas (Australian Parrots), 2 black & white Australian Magpies, 1 black & white Murray Mallee, 1 blackbird, 2 crows, 2 Noisy Minors and the sounds of Kookaburras laughing in the nearby trees. At night I heard the call of 2 Owls hooting across the valley to each other. (I have just finished the Owl painting tutorial)
    Autumn is now just passed and observing the trees in our garden changing colour has been beautiful. (Japanese Maple, the Canadian Maple-Lipstick, the Ornamental Pear trees and Ornamental grapevine). The trees are bare but it gives an insight into how the branches are attached the trunk, the textures of the bark and new buds forming ready for blossom and bees in springtime. (Related tutorials – Anna’s autumn leaf and blossom on branch painting and the Acorn & leaf and bee tutorial)
    Out in nature: I love to get out into nature with my camera (sometimes with my sketchbook) We have lots of nature walks in my area along the creeks, taking time to observe different leaf and bark shapes, to smell the fragrant smell of flowering gums, to see kangaroos hop past and to look up and sometimes see a koala. Along the Coast of Adelaide we have lots of beaches and taking a walk in the sand with the waves crashing around your feet and smelling the sea air is soothing and relaxing and gives you a feeling of well-being. Observing the different sea shells reminds me of Anna’s seashell tutorials.
    Our Botanical Gardens have just opened after lockdown just in time for school holidays. I always take my grandchildren to the Botanical gardens in the school holidays. I give them a camera and let them take whatever photos they want. They have captured butterflies, dahlias, and the giant amazon lilies in flower, the foul smelling Corpse flower and have been given seed pods from the friendly lady in the garden house. Great for future painting. I have attempted to paint some prior to joining Anna’s school. (Related tutorials – Dahlia, Roses, tulips, bees, butterfly and pine cone)
    In answer to Anna’s questions: Yes Nature does reset me and inspire me: Yes I have found a deeper connection to nature through my art as I observe Nature’s details more in depth, look at veins in leaves, look at dark and light and different hues: Yes, painting nature subjects has a positive effect on my wellbeing as it reminds me of being out in nature and observing its beauty.
    Thank you Anna for your inspiring On-line School and sharing your knowledge and skills. It has given me joy with each challenging tutorial and if I hadn’t found you on You-tube and been given your 2 fantastic books I would still be going around in confusing circles of ‘wet-on-wet’ blobs of paint, frustrated thinking I couldn’t paint.
    Thanks, Rosemary

  77. Isa Sousa 1 week ago

    Hello, Anna. Yes, I feel the same and I’m a truly lucky person living in Brazil next a wonderful place called Chapada dos Guimarães, just a few minutes from my city, Cuiaba. And maybe, because of this feeling in the nature, I love so much painting flowers and plants. Bests regards, Isa.

  78. Eileen 5 days ago

    I am a great believer in the benefit of nature, trees, flowers, animals, etc. I wish the human race would stop killing insects, birds, trees, plants, etc. I think the pandammedic is nature’s way of trying to stop us doing this.

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