15 artists share their favourite tips and techniques for making art with nature

My latest course, Into Nature, is all about making art with nature in a variety of creative ways.

We all have our favourite ways of course; I personally love blind contouring on the beach, making land art {great if you’re out without supplies and have a sudden urge to create}, and really immersing myself in the landscape in various ways. {All of which we do in the course, by the way!}

I hopped onto Instagram to ask other artists to complete this sentence:

‘One of my favourite ways to make art with nature is…’

There are some great tips and ideas here to inspire you – enjoy!

Capture sound

“One of my favorite ways to make art with nature is to take videos with sound ON of the path I am on or my surroundings so when I’m back in my studio I’m actually hearing and seeing what my exploration was about. The crunch of my footfalls, the lap of the water, the song of the birds….they all inform my work!”


‘Meet the rocks’

“One of my favourite way to make art with nature is to go “meet the rocks” on the coast of my little fishing village in HK. I make tea and go there to paint the same rocks over and over…but they always dress up in a different light.


Extract patterns

“One of my favourite ways to make art with nature is choosing small objects of interest such as shells or feathers and extracting patterns and marks to use in mixed media encaustic, collage and textile work.”


Experiment and collect

“One of my favourite ways to make art in collaboration with nature is to experiment. On my walks I collect wild berries, grapes and flowers to test out ink making. I have also been pigment rock collecting all summer, so this winter I can try making paints with them. The act of collecting helps me to remain in the present moment and observe nature. It also allows me to get in touch with my playful side because I used to collect things as a child.”


Capture the fine details

“One of my favourite ways to make art with nature is via my daily walks to the parklands and or beaches near me. I find stillness and inspiration in the textures of rocks, the shape of shells and the gentle flow of the water. Its these fine details that I then capture and reflect within my work.”


Lie down and look up

“One of my favourite ways to make art with nature is to go out for a walk, touch and talk to everything, smell and hear and feel the air, I like to lie on the ground and look up through trees and grasses and bracken, mostly I like to go very slowly, or be very still, watching and feeling and collecting the atmosphere. I make simple sketches to keep a record, I love blind contour too, so I can really look and connect with things in the environment.

I recently started taking my iPad and procreate out for a walk, that’s a game changer, to have all that colour and texture so easily to hand. Otherwise it’s my trusty pencils, graphite stick and water filled brush with a couple of Neocolors, so I can hold it all in my other hand while I draw!”


Immerse and notice

“One of my favourite ways to make art with nature is to walk & sketch. Stopping at various points to notice smaller details like movement, sounds as well as shape, colour and textures. I like to use limited materials such as a water soluble pencil and draw very quickly gathering just the key shapes which catch my eye. Back in the studio I simplify these drawings further and use memory to try and capture the spirit of a place.

It’s the total immersion in nature that is so important. In some ways you don’t always know what it is you are noticing until you get back in the studio & your subconscious memory kicks in with these unexpected ideas, sounds, images, marks. It’s the most important part of my practise. Just being outside is an education. It doesn’t have to be a planned art outing to inform work especially if it’s a place you revisit and know quite well. It all gets stored for use at some point.


Press flowers for different uses

“One of my favourite ways to make art with nature is to press flowers and leaves that I have collected and use them in my paintings. Sometimes I paint over them and use them as texture, sometimes I stick them on top of the paint.


Wander, breathe, collect

“One of my favourite ways to make art with nature is to be out in the elements with a sketchbook. I live near a wonderful wild coastline so beach walks are a big part of my life. I’ll take a little backpack with lots of pockets in it for beach finds – wonky shells and curly seaweed, beautiful stones or twigs to make brushes … and a sketchbook and paints.

There’s something really nourishing and satisfying about stopping to sit on a rock, breathe in my surroundings and record my observations on paper. Whatever the weather – the sun beating down or the wind whipping up or the sandy grit mixed with paint, it all feels part of the mix that comes out on the page, and I love it all!”


Recreate in fabric

“One of my favorite ways to make art is to photograph the ocean or something beautiful outside and try to replicate the scene with only fabric and thread.


Draw with sticks and ink

“One of my favourite ways to make art with nature is use found sticks and other plant life to draw my view with ink.”


Make ‘weed bouquets’

“One of my favorite ways to make art in collaboration with nature is to make what I call “weed bouquets”. I collect stems, berries, random vines, occasional blooms and seed pods and bring them home and take a little time to arrange them in a vase. I do this every few months and I love how it gets me in touch with the changes of the season.

And all of this collecting and foraging bleeds into making inks and dyes and raw pigments I can use for future experimentation and inspiration. Nature is such a generous friend to artists, how can we ever repay her?”


Print with plants

“Eco printing. Transferring the plant pigments to cotton paper or fabric then stitching drawing and manipulating afterwards. I also love to just be outside working. It feels right!”


Make fish prints!

“One of my favourite ways of collaborative work with nature is the ancient process of #Gyotaku or fish print that I use often in my printmaking practice!”


Sketch year round

“One of my favourite ways to make art with nature is heading out with my sketchbook and camera at any time of year. Sketching heightens my power of observation and seems to burn the feeling and details of the day into strong memories. You notice so much more. It allows me to put so much more feeling into works done later in the studio.”


What about you? Do you work with nature in creating your art? Do you have any unusual tips or approaches? Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments!


Into Nature - creative collaborations with the natural worldThis is of course just the tip of the iceberg – there are infinite ways we can get creative in and with nature.

That’s why I made Into Nature, to gather and share ways to collaborate with nature as an artist and reap the benefits not just of creating art, but also the unique restorative, healing effects of simply being in and amongst the natural world.

Click here or the image on the left to find out more about the course and choose from two ways join us.