Art being any creative expression which fills you and others with emotion, tells a story, or provides a message. It can be written, sang, painted, sculpted, sketched, arranged. It can be permanent or ephemeral, however you please. Craft, this is a practiced skill set for the creation of objects: pottery, wood carving, basketry, drum making, felting, cooking, making instruments, or tending a garden. The list is long, and the line between art and craft is fine and often blurry.
Creation is a fundamentally human activity. From functional pieces to beautiful ones, those which tell a story to those which make us think, we are a species unlike any other because we have found ways to combine parts to make products. But there is little magic in the “things” we make, magic exists in the processes by which we make them. Creating helps us open to a world of self discovery. It’s in this way that creating is magic, an alchemical process of transformation for the maker as they explore new techniques, materials, and ideas, other people, places, and things. Creating is a part of us.
As is nature, to the very core of our bones! Through time immemorial humankind has relied on natural resources to sustain themselves and inform their choices, participating in the relationship between animal and the earth. Even though our present society is so very separated from nature we can never truly be separate, those same resources sustain us today. And even though most of us are no longer conscious of the relationship between humans and nature, it is there, and it needs tending.
So I choose art and craft to establish connections with nature because their processes invite the student back to that give and take relationship with the land, the bond that all of our human ancestors share. They help us slow down outside, to be more curious. Studying nature to inform artwork or to create finer objects forces us to observe carefully, we notice diversity and interconnections between plants and animals, soil and sun.
I choose art and craft because their processes help us learn about ourselves, expand on our interests, become curious for other cultures’ ways of being. They help us become more patient, content, grateful, creative, confident, and they make us want to acquire less but do more. And finally, art and craft are accessible ways for connecting with nature routinely. Your work can take you outside for inspiration, to enjoy the warmth of the sun, or to gather materials. At the end of the day, you can bring nature in. Engaging with the natural world through art and craft can encourage a softening of the boundary between the outdoors and in.
Though large wilderness trips can be life-changing for one’s personal development, the sad truth is that without supportive parents, schools, or clubs, most people, youth or adults, do not have access to them. And when they do, for many it remains a fond memory, a separated and distant experience from their daily life. Outdoor adventure is largely limited to a select few.
Tools in your outdoor repertoire such as painting, snow sculpting, journaling, photography, gardening, song writing, and wood carving help you enjoy the natural world around you and inspire your curiosity for so much more, on a regular basis. They give you an excuse to get outside!
You know that going outside is good for you, now just develop your “how” to get there. Don’t find yourself inside the house because you can’t think of an excuse to enjoy the day.