Outdoor Campus nature painting 3By: Erica Jurgensen, naturalist intern

For one of my “Pop Up” classes I decided to lead a group in using nature’s resources to paint. The original plan was to be outside to do all the artwork, but rainy weather said otherwise. We still made it work and had lots of fun!

The first objective of the class was to go over a few basic elements of art, such as primary and secondary colors. We then discussed what kinds of materials one might use to paint, without having paper or a paintbrush. The class was spot on when they started naming different natural resources such as rocks, leafs, sticks and other plants. This was the purpose of the class: to explore different ways to use nature’s resources in art. I had already done a few examples of my own to spark the class’s imagination. The only requirement was everybody had to create something using only what they found in nature.Outdoor Campus nature painting 2

I had already collected a few supplies due to the rain, but the class went out on their own to find supplies as well. The natural supplies we used were leafs, flowers, grass, bark, pine cones, pine needles and twigs. I supplied string for them to tie supplies to a twig to create a paintbrush. I also supplied paints, paper and hot glue guns. (I wish we would have had enough time to make homemade paint as well!) Later, after they created a project from nature, I allowed them to use everyday materials, like the paintbrushes we are used to today. Few projects were created that didn’t use at least one natural element.Outdoor Campus nature painting 1

The class consisted of all ages and experience levels, which sparked a lot of creativity. I even had a younger girl tell me she was taking lots of art classes in school so she knew exactly what she was doing. I often reminded my class if their painting didn’t turn out the way they wanted it to, to use their imagination and turn it into something else. We had everything from kids spray-painting leaf impressions, to gluing sticks together, and even finger painting for the little ones. It was great having a class full of positive energy and students eager to discover different ways to use nature’s resources.Outdoor Campus nature painting 4



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