Art with Nature at Heart

When you think of art, you likely think of paintings in an expensive gallery or sculptures that have taken hours to make, but art can be accessible for everyone when it’s made outdoors. Art can be about connecting to your surroundings in a new way and slowing down to notice things you might have otherwise overlooked. A fun, easy, cost-effective and environmentally-friendly way to incorporate art in you and your family’s life is to make art in nature, using materials you find outside. Not only will you be able to express your creativity, but you will also get outside and connect with your natural environment, which has been shown to have numerous physical and mental benefits. Making art in nature also allows you to see familiar places with a new lens. Here are some activities that focus on shape, colour and texture to get you started.

Shape: Nature Mosaic

Explore shape by using natural items around you to create a mosaic on the ground. Create images of animals, places, a favourite cartoon character, or even a self-portrait. Breaking the items into pieces allows you to isolate what shapes go into making an image. If you want to create something more abstract, arrange objects in a geometric pattern while experimenting with repetition of similar shapes and objects of different sizes. Use your imagination and the opportunities are endless!

Colour: Value Bar, Colour Wheel & Colour Hunt

Make a value bar, a gradient of the same colour from light to dark, by arranging natural items in a line. If there are a lot of different colours around, make a colour wheel by arranging objects of every colour of the rainbow in a circle and transitioning gradually between shades. If there aren’t many items on the ground that you can pick up, try doing a colour hunt. Bring some small pieces of coloured paper (paint colour samples from a hardware store work well, or you can make your own with coloured markers or construction paper) and try to find items in nature that match the shade on each piece. Repeat these exercises at different times of the year to experience the seasonal changes in colour.

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Texture: Crayon Rubbing

Document the variety of textures in nature by making a rubbing. All you need are some pieces of printer paper cut into whatever sizes or shapes you would like and a few wax crayons (with the paper removed). Simply place your paper over the item and lay the crayon flat over the paper. With firm pressure, rub the crayon over the paper and watch the textures emerge onto the page as you go. Good items to make rubbings with include dead leaves, tree bark, western red cedar branches, fern fronds, or anything relatively flat. Nature rubbings make great cards or decorations for recycled giftwrap.

With these activities in your arsenal you’re sure to experience nature in a new way, express your creativity, and connect with your family at the same time! Please remember that you can help ensure our natural spaces stay healthy when making art in nature. Please stay on designated trails to protect habitat. When looking for materials to use in your nature art, use loose items you find on the ground and avoid picking living plants. Instead of removing items from nature, you can take a picture of your creations to take home. The best approach is to take only memories and leave only footprints.

Looking for nature programs the whole family will enjoy? Join CRD Regional Parks naturalists for free guided walks and drop-in events for all ages. For more information, visit

Emma Jane Vignola
Emma Jane Vignola
Emma Jane Vignola is a Park Naturalist with the Capital Regional District.