This week I thought I would share a different side of the wonderful effects of The Forest Year project, since after all, this is an art blog. Let's talk about art and inspiration!
I'm 12 weeks into this 52 week self-imposed challenge of spending at least one hour per week in a forest. So far I think I've managed about 30 hours.
Now seems like a good time to reflect on the experience and recover the fresh memories before they fade too much.
I still remember how invigorated I was when we headed out into the forest the first week. Nothing beats the excitement of a new project!
12 weeks later and I still feel the excitement coursing through my veins.
What is it that makes this project so powerful?
Part of me believes it must be the strong sense of purpose it gives me.
To work towards a big goal, little by little, feels good. Even if I have no other reason than to exercise in the fresh air once a week, I feel very driven to stay on target.
But I think there is something greater at work here. This project has stirred something deep inside me. As though I tapped into an endless fountain of inspiration and purpose.
We've made Sunday our ritual forest day (mostly because it's the only day Wolfy never has to work). So after a long week of busybusybusy, we spend our Sunday's exploring the beautiful and therapeutic forests of Scotland. As we pack up the car in the morning, I find myself giddy with excitement. When we arrive to the destination, I jump out of the car, smile beaming across my face.
I have grown such an immense love for capturing the beauty I find in the wilderness. Whether with film or paint, I have an innate desire to translate the delicate and elusive spell that the forest casts over me.
To be in the forest is to be free. So when I'm able to paint it, I feel a deeper sense of connection with the profound energy that flows there. I feel an ultimate sense of freedom.
Birdsong, leaves shaking, streams, and creaking branches combine into a symphony and guide my mind to a place of deep peace and belonging.
There are days when I simply cannot bring myself to paint, because I just want to experience the forest with all my senses. It is a different sort of connection, more like an appreciation and sense of gratitude for the beauty around me.
There are times when I am painting and I feel a sense of urgency to capture what I see. Perhaps the light is fading, or the rain is coming.
Those moments force me to become increasingly self aware, to understand that the beauty of life is fleeting, and no amount of paint or brush strokes can contain it.
I crave the sounds, smells, and textures of nature. I grew up with a strong curiosity for the "great outdoors" and was encouraged at a young age to spend as much time as possible outside. I am forever grateful for this, as it instilled a deep sense of appreciation that is now a driving force in my life. (thanks dad!)
Now that I've discovered the wonders of painting, this appreciation is coupled with the enjoyment of sitting (or standing) for long periods of time in nature, observing carefully, and making thousands of small choices in color/texture to bring what I experience to life on the canvas.
When I look back at these plein air sketches, I am immediately launched into the memory of being there. Much like catching a scent that sends you deep into a childhood memory. It's so comforting.
I find myself wondering how I've gone this long in life without experiencing nature in this way. My time spent plein air painting are some of my most treasured hours in life.
I woke up today with the realization that it's not even April yet, and we've already seen so many incredible places this year, and enjoyed so many peaceful hours among the trees.
In terms of technique, I've grown as an artist since making plein air painting a priority. It truly forces you to observe carefully, and teach yourself how to see color in shadows and light. It's a magical thing, and I find that when I go back to my studio, I am a better artist for it.
I'm eager to see where this project takes me... 40 more weeks to go!