The Art of Nature

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Lucky to be on beautiful St. George Island in the Gulf of Mexico recently, I had a first-time experience that made me think about art in a new way.

The beauty of St. George Island is how unspoiled it is and the absence of light pollution (outdoor lights are banned on the beach to save the sea turtles) at night makes for a spectacular view of the unadulterated night sky. My first night there, I was enamoured with the beauty of it all, seeing it in a whole new way. My jaw dropped when I realized I wasn’t experiencing a problem with my eyes trying to focus. What they saw were the stars actually twinkling. It was the most amazing sight I think I’ve ever seen, and I must have spent four hours sitting on the beach late at night just taking it all in.

It really got my head spinning about the sheer art that exists in nature, and how nature itself influences great art. It gave whole new meaning to the nursery rhyme, “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star,” whose lyric came from the early 19th century English poem, “The Star,” by Jane Taylor. It also made me wonder if the night sky that the great painter Vincent van Gogh experienced was exactly as illuminating as mine when inspiration struck for one of his greatest works, “Starry Night.”

Obviously, there are a lot of great reasons to engage your kids with connecting to nature, and further inspiring young creative minds in artistic ways, whether they enjoy drawing, painting, sculpting, dancing or capturing something gorgeous on camera. Most children have a inherent inclination toward nature, and it’s fascinating to see them turn it into art.

A couple weeks ago, I was babysitting a couple of kids for a friend at my house. Outside on the back deck, I have an elaborate butterfly garden, which attracts all sorts of winged beauties. Seven-year-old Maisy loves to draw and color, and she’s also a big fan of butterflies. After spending a couple hours outside watching them and doodling on her pad, she came in for dinner and proudly stuck her work on the fridge — an ornately colorful drawing she dubbed “Butterfly City.”

If your artistic youngster ever feels like he’s in a non-creative rut, why not recharge him with a good dose of nature and see where it leads.

By the way, “Butterfly City” is now in a frame hanging in my hall.

Chad Young is the managing editor and arts/entertainment editor for this publication.

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