Artists inspired by nature: five resources to engage students

Ideas and resources for artists linking to the natural world #inspiration #botanicalart #artsed

Inspiration from natural forms

Training to become an art teacher, I found I was surprised and encouraged by the endless fascination that seems to stem from working from nature. Thinking specifically about the natural world, I have been charmed by how young people are so happy to focus in on the wonder of organic forms. Be the stimuli shells, bones, flowers, weeds, feathers or fruit, the creative possibilities are endless.

Despite the ubiquity of computer games and screens, the lure of the natural world seems to endure. Which is good news!

So, with spring in the air, I have put together a short roundup of some of the artists and designers I have found most inspiring for students.

Engaging artists and designers

William Morris

The pattern and repetition featured in Morris’ work, together with his ideas of making beautiful things part of our everyday life, capture students imagination. Starting with drawings made from observation, an investigation into William Morris is the perfect springboard for a printmaking project.

Georgia O’Keeffe

Fantastic inspiration, especially relevant when working from bones as well as flowers. Students often love the opportunity to work in colour on a large scale.

Michael Landy

More well-known for his installations and sculptures, Michael Landy’s Nourishment series is a subtle and thought-provoking take drawing from plants. The etchings he produced in this series are metaphors for the overlooked in society, and I’ve found students to respond very well to this subject matter as well as a the aesthetic of the work.

Peter Randall-Page

The abstracted forms reminiscent of seed pods and shells are brilliant inspiration for work in two or three dimensions.

Margaret Mee

If you have not yet encountered this fearless and exciting botanical artist, I’m happy to be introducing Margaret Mee. An early environmentalist and intrepid explorer, she produced beautifully detailed and observed botanical studies.

Finally, I recently come across a couple of lovely artist blogs with a nature focus:

  • Stunning paper cut works: Pippa Dyrlaga
  • Fab library of free printables showing how to draw natural forms: Val Webb
  • And, a different approach altogether: Raku Inoue

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