“Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better,”
Since the beginning of art, nature has been the inspiration. Early cave paintings depict animals, fire, and the early people interacting with their natural world. Flip through any art history book and you will find still life paintings of flowers and fruit. In the religious iconography of history, you will find leaves, fruit, trees, and streams. The world’s most famous paintings are of natural landscapes – Monet’s lily pads. The Fibonacci sequence, and how it relates to nature is a core curriculum in any art class. The most balanced paintings will follow the golden spiral.
During my time in art school, a professor told me that anything you create and place on the wall would be the act of making a statement. This was very intimating to me, and I struggled for a long time with the subject matter of my art. Moreover, I struggled with what to say. There was so much to say, and I did not feel qualified to say it. After graduation, I didn’t paint for a long time. When I decided to paint again, the struggle bus was right where I had parked it. It wasn’t until I was looking through some old photos of a backpacking trip, that the glaringly obvious smacked me right in the face. Nature. Of course, it should have been nature all along. I grew up in the Rocky Mountains of Montana. I grew up swimming in lakes and rivers, hiking in beautiful mountains, and skiing in the most pristine snow. I have lived in Alaska for the majority of my adult life, because I love nature, I love being outside. I have been painting landscapes, leaves, trees, flowers, rivers, oceans, and streams ever since.
I know and understand my own love of all things outdoor related, and how it inspires my life choices and art, but I’ve also met those people who would rather die than go camping. We tend to think of those city dwellers as not being nature-loving individuals, but that’s actually not true. There is a reason that the most popular bars in large cities are roof top bars, and that sidewalk cafés exist. The most important person in any high-rise office building has a corner office with a view. Neighborhoods near parks have a higher real estate value than ones without. Ocean front property is a few hundred thousand more dollars than the same house a mile from the ocean. There is a reason that our national parks are seeing attendance rates soar. Humans long for the outdoors, even if we don’t agree on the level of immersion.
We are nature and nature is us, we are all one. Saving the planet, and saving the habitats of animals should not be a political fight, but it is political because money is involved. We have created a world where we no longer hunt and gather. We dress in business attire and go to office buildings, we get in our cars and drive to jobs, we gather in large cities in mass because that is where the jobs are, where the money is. All the while ignoring our own basic human need to be outside. We mine our planet for the minerals, precious metals, and oil. We created plastic, and throw it in the ocean once it’s “used”. We have done all of these things to ensure our survival, safety, and comfort- and called it progress while our planet suffers. I am not pointing the finger at all of humanity, and not at myself. I have a car, I go to a job, and I am typing this on a computer, which is made of mined metals and plastic.
My point is, we can do better. We can be intentional in our use of the planet. We can stop using single use plastics – yesterday. And no Karen, you don’t need a straw for your diet cran and vodka. Each of us can spend more time recycling, and less time buying things that need recycled. More importantly, we can all stop supporting the industries that are doing the most damage.
I will continue to paint, nature will be my muse, and the statement that I will make with every painting will be: “Love this, protect all of this, and do it without considering your stock options first.” ~Jill Myer