Artistic Explorations in Nature

Explore, play and make art with materials found in nature with these prompts from Valerie Claff, Studio Art Faculty in the Department of Visual and Performing Arts.

Exploration #1 – Mark Making with Handmade Tools

Materials: Newsprint or Mixed-Media or other paper – anything will work, it’s all an experiment! Black & sepia drawing ink, or acrylic paint, string, handmade tools

  1. Collect sticks of different lengths and sizes
  2. Collect things like grasses, pine needles, leaves, flowers, feathers, anything that can be used to make a mark on paper.
  3. Using string, make your own mark making tools/brushes by tying things to the sticks as in the photo at the top. You can cut feathers to make quill pens and brushes
  4. Using paper, paint or ink, experiment with your tools to see what kind of marks they make.
Exploration #2: Texture Rubbings

Materials: Computer paper, pencils, crayons, charcoal if you have it

  1. Take a walk outside, make rubbings of bark, stone, pavement, etc.
  2. Gather leaves and put them on a notebook. Put paper on top. Hold a well sharpened pencil at an angle to your paper and draw with the side of the pencil all over the paper. Watch the leaf patterns and textures emerge.
Exploration #3: Shadow Drawings

Materials: Paper, pencils, ink and brushes, whatever you have

On a sunny day, go out for a walk. Look for a place where shadows from trees/foliage falls on the ground.

  1. Put your paper where the shadow falls and draw the shadows
Exploration #4: Object Prints

Materials: Paper, ink or very watered down acrylic/tempera. You could also use coffee or tea!

  1. Place your object on the paper, paint over and around the object