art is adventure quote

Build Creative Confidence Day 6 – Get Outside!

Being in nature inspires creativity and builds creative confidence by reminding us that we are alive and full of imagination and ideas. – Dr. Minette Riordan

Welcome to 31 Days to Build Creative Confidence. If you are just stumbling upon this blog series, welcome! You can read the other posts here. Yesterday’s post on pushing yourself to be more creative was inspired by my hike on July 4. Today I spent about 5 hours with my family at our favorite picnic ground near a babbling brook in Rocky Mountain National Park doing nothing but reading a fun novel. One of my guilty pleasures is reading all kinds of fiction and it’s rare I can string together several uninterrupted hours of indulgence. I finished reading A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness. It’s fun, all about witches, vampires and daemons and about alchemy and history and magic! I saw it at the airport in Santa Barbara last week before boarding our plane to Colorado and knew I had to read it. But enough about the book, tomorrow’s post will be about the importance of reading as a way to find inspiration and feed your journaling practice.

Today I want to talk about the power of being outside in nature and remembering what it feels like to be connected to the earth and the sky. We are so busy in our day to day lives that weeks may go by before we spend time outside. Even then, it may be on concrete sidewalks and not dirt, grass or a sandy beach. I live in Santa Barbara, CA which I think has to be one of the most beautiful places in the United States. The beach is never further than a 10 to 15 minute drive away and is in walking/cycling distance for most people. Yet I find that people can go weeks without ever being on the beach. What?? If I go more than a few days without a walk on the beach, I feel disconnected and desperate to put my feet into the sand. Why do I think this is important and what does it have to do with art?

The Connection between Creativity and Art

The famous sculptor Auguste Rodin said, “I invent nothing, I rediscover.” Being in nature reminds us that creativity and beauty are all around us and in us. Art is rarely about creating something new, it’s about adventure and creating meaning ouf something that makes our hearts sing. I did my Ph.D. at Stanford University and one of my favorite places on campus was the Rodin sculpture garden. What a gift to be surrounded by nature and art! It was always a reminder of the power of being outside to inspire imagination, innovation and inspiration. On one of our first dates my husband and I spent hours roaming the beautiful campus and admiring the Rodin sculpture garden.

rodin creativity quote

When we are outside, when we take off our shoes and let our bare feet feel the grass, the dirt, the sand we can feel the connection. It opens our hearts and bodies to creative inspiration that has been buried by the to-do lists and business of our day to day lives. Do you remember being a child and playing the cloud game? Lying on the grass with friends on a warm afternoon, lazily watching the clouds in the sky and trying to pick out an animal here, a face there, was a creative pastime that most of us enjoyed. In fact, I still love  do this with my kids.

Even when we lived in Plano, Texas – not one of the prettier places I have lived – we found places to be outside and took advantage of the times of the year when the weather was conducive to walks and hikes to fill the longing to connect with nature. So it’s possible to find this lost connection even in the most suburban areas, you just have to look for it. Maybe it’s the grass in your backyard or the neighborhood playground that provides access. Maybe you have a local botanical garden or even a local farm. Nature is never far away, we just forget to look for it. One of the things I miss about Texas is the clouds. Along the coast we rarely get the big fluffy white clouds or thunderheads that often dotted the horizon in Plano. So our creative games have shifted – looking for shells and colorful rocks, bits of driftwood or sticks to draw pictures on the beach have replaced cloud watching but every step outside becomes an art adventure as far as I am concerned.

Lesson 5: Build Creative Confidence by Connecting to Nature

You can do this, too, make art an adventure. Here are a few ideas to get started, you don’t have to do them all, just pick one:

  • Think back to your childhood, what was your favorite game to play outside? Take out a journal and write about the natural creativity you expressed as a child when playing outside with siblings or friends.
  • Think about where you live currently, name a place that you love to visit outside but rarely make time to go to. Schedule time in your calendar in the next week to go there. You don’t need hours, you just need 15 minutes of fresh air. Sit in the grass, take your shoes off, lie back and watch the sky or notice what you see around you. You don’t need to DO anything while you are there.
  • Spend 15 minutes sitting in your yard or on your patio or in a nearby park. Take along your journal and describe your connection to nature. What do you love? What’s missing in your life? What aspects of nature most inspire you? Flowers, trees, skies, water, rocks, landscapes, weather, sun, rain? There is no right answer. This is not about writing something for others to read, this is about reminding yourself that nature feeds your creative spirit.
  • Now comes the fun part! Take along some crayons or colored pencils or just a pencil and some blank paper or use your journal and draw what you see. Remember, this is for your eyes only. Don’t tell me you can’t draw, I can hear your inner critic shouting now. Ask her to step aside for a bit and just enjoy the process of capturing what you see on the page – let it be abstract, simple or detailed. Let it be childlike and playful. Remember how good it feels to draw and to color as if you were a child.
  • Our connection to nature should be childlike and playful at times, running freely on the grass or lying down to gaze at the sky. But it can also bring solace through quiet and meditation, allowing the noises around you to soften and hold the space, not distract you. What do you hear? Allow your thoughts to fly across your mind and disappear, just sit quietly and enjoy the time and space.This moment belongs to you.

How does nature inspire you to be creative? Share your thoughts in the comments below.