The Intersection of Art and Nature

Nature has been the subject of art pretty much since humankind started scrawling on cave walls.

Everything from animal migrations to mountainscapes and tumultuous seas have been immortalized. It’s a testament to how the landscape and the creatures that populate it inspires us to create, and how those creations continue to feed our urge to explore.

The trend traces back to the dawn of man, but it’s important to note that, the best art in and inspired by nature does so without impacting the environment, following the same “leave no trace” philosophy that should govern all forays into the wild. For example, an “artist” recently felt compelled to scrawl graffiti in the country’s national parks. We don’t want to have to say it, but that’s a big no-no.

The best art in and inspired by nature does so without impacting the environment.

And within the last few years, the intersection of art and nature has gained a prominent foothold in social media: women artists who travel into nature, get inspired by the wild, and tap into the power of social media to get their works seen and become part of a larger conversation around the intersection of women, art, and the natural world.

Many of these artists have also been featured by She Explores, a website and podcast for women in the outdoors, and a great resource for discovering new and emerging artists. Here are a few that caught our eye:

Heidi Annalise

Heidi’s approach to interacting with the natural world almost feels paradoxical: she captures the vast an infinite landscapes of places like Washington or her home state of Colorado within the lid of an Altoid tin. She paints the detailed landscapes onto the lid and then uses the shallow depth of the container as her palette, this portable art station lets her travel deep into the wild to capture her striking images.

She also works with larger canvasses, but her “Mint Tin Tiny” series really captures how magical the natural world can be when re-interpreted in unexpected ways.

Nikki Frumkin

Using her experience in inspiring, high-alpine environments (particularly in the Pacific Northwest), Nikki Frumkin employs pattern, vibrant color, and energetic lines in her landscape watercolors, which she offers via her Drawn to High Places website. She often creates in the wild—from summits, on ridgelines, at alpine lakes—inspired by the light, energy, and movement of a place. In addition to selling her artwork and taking commissions, Nikki also hosts regular day- and weekend-long retreats/classes around her home in the Pacific Northwest, focusing on watercolor, adventure writing, and capturing the shifting seasons.

Faith Montgomery

Nature becomes even more tangible in Faith’s work, which uses pieces of reclaimed wood, mushroom conks, and wood rounds along with acrylics and watercolors to create textured pieces that employ the time-honored tradition of cut-outs in new and exciting ways. The level of detail is striking—and done with purpose to show “how much the naked eye misses when just scrolling alongside a lake in the middle of a forest.” The self-taught artist sells her work at Woodensense.

Amanda Sandlin

Though Amanda has worked in several mediums, her recent At Wild Woman portrait series may lie closest to her heart. Each of the pieces portray a female figure drawn in careful lines over an abstract background that evokes a natural horizon. Think snow-covered mountains bristled with evergreens, the shadowed expanse of the Arctic, the open desert, or a roiling ocean. The women are often looking out into that vast horizon, inviting the viewer to step into the piece and live with the female form and mother nature.

Cornelia Konrads

This German artist works with all-natural objects to create striking, gravity-defying pieces that are often displayed in the natural surroundings from which she sourced the materials. Cornelia’s work is best viewed where she constructs the work, whether that’s in Hanover, Germany, or for a private commission at Brazil’s Reserva do Ibitipoca. Thankfully, you may not need a passport to see her future work. This September she’s the Artist in Residence in Lincoln, Montana, working on “Blackfood Pathways: Sculpture in the Wild.”

What inspires you to create? Getting inspired to create starts with heading out into nature and opening yourself to creating. From there, hopefully, the art will follow.

Check out Heidi Annalise’s latest adventure to the Olympic Peninsula, where she captured the beauty of the tumultuous Pacific Northwestern coast on the inside of an Altoid tin: