How Art And Nature Are Helping Me Through The Pandemic
Dear Wonderful, Creative You:
Greetings to you in 2021! In the fall each year, I take time to reflect on the year just past. Overall, Iv’e been very lucky, and despite all the difficulties, I feel very grateful for what 2020 taught me, especially from many great teachers on racial, indigenous, and gender equality. But even being as privileged as I am, as I sat down to reflect, I was just tired. And I’m sure you can identify with that, because 2020 has been a lot.
When I looked back over 2020, and all its difficulties and joys, (there were some of those too!) I asked myself what I most needed to feel nurtured. And the answer came immediately in these words:
Be grounded in nature.
It’s a simple principle, and one I knew would feed both my soul, and my art practice. I share about it with you here in the hopes that it sparks something for you. I think it would be easy in this time to get into a mode of waiting – waiting for the vaccine, waiting for social distancing measures to ease, waiting for greater social equality. But waiting is a painful experience, and one that doesn’t feel proactive. We have a lot of resources, with each other, and right outside our door.
Rather than waiting, I prefer to be creating.
I hope you to take on whatever piece of that speaks to you and lights you up. Perhaps you’ll bundle up and take more walks, take nature photos, write some poems, or draw a curled, dry leaf. A Winter Spells process is meant to be nurturing and totally guided by what feels good to you personally. If you’d like some guidance in YOUR Winter Spells process, check out my self-guided retreat PDF:
This is the cover to my in-process Winter Spells book. Look at that gorgeous birch bark. I remember touching it as a child, wanting to use it as writing paper. This is not far off I guess.
Another way we can use art to cope with the pandemic and isolation through art is by slow drawing together live. Join our weekly Slow Drawing Parties. We gather for an hour with folks from all over the world and draw slowly, joyfully together.
Sign up for Slow Drawing Invites and Weekly Inspiration right here:
I’d love to hear how you are using nature and art to make it through this time, drop in the comments to let me know. And if you’d like to share your winter wanderings, both in nature and in the studio, use #winterspellsretreat. Happy winter walking to you.
I find that nature and art helps me only individually. Although I have tried to draw a Badger but it was hard with them moving and very little light
HI Jamie – Yes, drawing moving people and animals is so challenging! I like pictures for that reason. 🙂
I love this so much! I have been doing the same thing with nature walks, grateful for the reminder of things grander than I. Your nature videos and pics are a delight to my soul! I noticed the milkweed pod, and have found joy in photographing some of those myself. I don’t know if there is some way to turn this into an IG challenge, but it would be fun to share in others’ nature journeys this winter!
Hi Gracie: I’m tickled that you are on the same journey and that this spoke to you. You can share your work on this topic with the tag #winterspells. Thanks for the reminder! xo
Wonderful going for a walk “with” you into the forest. Very textural for all the senses! As well, I love your journal, the images and findings are spectacular, I especially enjoy how the vellum mimics echoes of the sound of dry leaves rustling!
Oh I’m so delighted that you picked up on so much of what I hoped you would. Be well. XO
Amy, your presence is really lovely. I am so glad I found your channel
Hi Sag: Thank you so much for your kind words and I’m glad you’re here!
It´s such a pleasure to look at your art and to find a new way for myself to become creative.
The help through nature has been there all the time, I feel all the same you describe in your video. But to find that bridge into journals and colourful little papers made by myself is such a gift- brought by you in 2020.
Oh Karin – I’m delighted and honored by your comment. YAY for nature.
So pleased I found your.
I’m so happy you are here, Corinna! XO
Things are incredibly bleak in the UK at the moment and it makes my heart feel so heavy and my mind so full with homeschooling a reluctant 6 year old and a sad 8 year old. It leaves very little time for anything else. So I look forward to your website in the evening when all is still and take inspiration from your observation of nature and it’s healing powers. Thank you.
Laila: Your comment means so much to me. Homeschooling in a pandemic is so trying. I’m thinking of you and your family. Your words are a gift. Thank you for letting me know I’m offering you some light. I hope you find some little beautiful details in your neighborhood today. XO
Your video and photographs are just fantastic! It looks like you live in a beautiful area! Very inspirational!
Hello Gretta: Thank you so kindly! I do live in a beautiful area, but I also hasten to say that I get out and really look for beauty. I think that’s part of the key. XO
Thank you for sharing! I love your presence and your talent. You have inspired so many artists! Thank you for letting me be one of your students! Your Winter Spells journey is wonderful.
Diane, you are so sweet and giving. Thank you for bringing that here. XO
There’s nothing more than I’d rather do than take a walk in nature. Or even down the end of my street!. For 2 months I’ve had chronic pain from a herniated disk in my back that’s irritating a nerve root. It’s a slow and tentative recovery, and with everything else going on in the world, I have days of sedentary despondence. Do you have any ideas or suggestions for help? I’d appreciate it. Thank you.
Oh I’m so sorry that you are still suffering with your back. I wish I could take away the pain for you. I can only imagine how much you’d like to get out and about. I’m not an expert, but I’m happy to offer some ideas to consider in case they spark an idea for you. A few things come to mind – I have a few folks in my Winter Spells retreat with mobility issues, and they have been focusing on what they can see from their window. I notice this while working some days, especially when I’m sitting near the bird feeder – or even just watching the way a leaf turns in the wind. A second thought that came to me is a wonderful book I read a few months ago, The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating, by Elisabeth Tova Bailey. She had many months of a condition that left her nearly unable to move, a friend brought her a little snail and set it in a flower pot, and a beautiful experience unfolded. I don’t know if this resonates for you, but I’d focus on what tiny things I could do from where I am. I got a terrarium after reading that book, and it’s been fascinating to see the mosses, wintergreen, and lichens thrive for months. You might see if some good friends or family could conspire to help with a terrarium, bird feeder outside your window, or other such things. I hope this sparks a good idea. I send healing vibes. XO
We are trying to enter into summer here on Kangaroo Island. Its very windy, randomly too cool to swim at the beach but with happy, little bursts of sunshine that turn the water turquoise blue – so beautiful, so stunning. When the sun shines, the flowers on our succulents shine in all their glory so they’re my drawing focus for now. And……………they don’t run way like animals do.
Susan – your beautiful words paint a picture. Keep going! Write, write! Thank you. XO
Thank you, Amy, I really needed this today. I’ve been struggling and have been at a low spot. I felt reassurance and support in your encouragement and wisdom. Getting outside in Nature and allowing myself time to slow down and find the healing and peace in creativity is exactly what I need to do. Thank you so much for the gentle reminder that we are connected to nature and through art practice, to our deepest needs.
Hi Melanie: The way you put things is so peaceful, I so appreciate your comment, and am so thankful I have something to offer you. Happy wanderings. xo
I love this so much! So beautiful and inspiring.
Thanks kindly, Kristina! XO
Thank you for sharing Amy, I completely concur with you. Nature takes us where we need to be. Your winter spells are sublime and so lovely.
Carolyn: I so appreciate your presence and your words!
Thank you Amy for this lovely gentle video about how you are in nature. So beautiful. Nature is amazing and there is so much there – I love your photos and drawings/paintings.
I have just been out for a refreshing walk and took lots of photos which I will now draw from. I am looking forward to starting my self guided winter spells. BW, Rebecca. (Cambridge UK).
Drawing from photos I’ve taken is such a pleasure. I also like to gather fallen bits and draw those. Happy creating and thanks for being here! XO
I sit here next to a basket of dried twigs, bark, seed pods and the like that I can not resist bringing home from me on my walks. I’ve done this for some time now and although I never would describe myself as and artist I do like creating with these items. I so admire the colors, textures and shapes and the amazing gifts of mother earth even while she rests. The way you weave together nature, art and soulful living has inspired me to think , maybe just maybe I can begin to capture some of this beauty on a page. I’m grateful to have found your tribe.
HI Karen – It sounds like you are in just the right place. And for sure you can capture this beauty on the page. If you haven’t tried it already, you might enjoy my free class Beautifully Imperfect Art Cheers!