Spring is in full swing (in some parts of the world)! With Earth Day 2020 upon us, we’re looking to take at-home activities outdoors. We talked with the author of Foraged Art, Peter Cole, to find out ways to make masterpieces with materials supplied by Mother Nature.
KiwiCo: What is foraged art?
Peter Cole: Making foraged art is about making art with what you find and finding art in what you see. By playing with blooms, leaves, sticks, and branches to make beautiful, geometric, whimsical shapes and forms, we add a momentary human element to frame nature’s beauty.
KiwiCo: What are your tips for making foraged art with nature?
Peter Cole: Every project is different! But here are some helpful steps to get you started:
- Look around! Notice all the kinds of beautiful natural materials around you. Think of nature as an art box and choose what is most inspiring.
- Collect! Choose two or three natural materials and collect five pieces of each material. It’s better to start with a larger number of a few things.
- Sort! Organize your natural materials into piles by size and color.
- Setup! Find a background with contrast that will show off your artwork. If it is a cold windy day, consider bringing your materials indoors.
- Make! Relax and have fun. You may start with an idea and then find a new idea in the process of making. If you want a simple project, make a line or a circle, a frame, or spell your name.
- Snap! Take a picture of your project to share with friends!
- Disband! Let your project blow away or find a new home for heavier materials.
KiwiCo: How do you make sure you’re not disrupting or harming nature when you’re creating foraged art?
Peter Cole: Foraged art is about respecting nature so there are a few key things to keep in mind when gathering your materials:
- Only gather things that are in great abundance. If you have a backyard, start there. If you are out in nature, gather materials that have fallen to the ground like sticks or leaves.
- If you pick plants, make sure they are low impact like weeds. Never pick your neighbor’s plants without asking first.
- After making your projects, be aware of what materials may need a little help disbanding. For example, rose petals will naturally shrivel up and blow away, but projects made with rocks may need your help placing the stones back where they were. The beauty of foraged art is appreciating what it is in the moment and then letting the land return to the way it was.
When looking for leaves…
Leaves are really beautiful for making patterns, stacks, frames, and creatures (serpents, monsters, and more!) Look for multi-size leaves from the same plant with variations in contrasting colors or different shades of the same color (new leaves are typically brighter.) Seek out leaves that have cool shapes, stems, and textures. Flat leaves are the best for making foraged art. To flatten curled leaves, press them between pages in a book for a few days.
When looking for flowers…
Flowers are nature’s paintbrushes, glitter, and fireworks. In addition to adding color, you can add flowers for details. You can make garlands, flower lines, petal “puddles”, and bright colorful blossom creatures like butterflies and birds! The kinds of flowers you find will depend on your geography and the season. Flowers are beautiful both whole and separated into their individual parts. Try removing and counting all the petals of a single flower, then make a drawing by laying them into patterns.
When looking for rocks…
An easy project to do with rocks is to sort them by size and arrange them in a line, smallest to largest. The line itself can be wavy or straight or make a pattern. I like to make rock spirals. Though the colors may be muted, look for rocks in different shades, shapes, and weights. Rocks are the easiest of foraged elements to work with because they don’t blow away.
When mixing materials…
Almost all projects can be made with mixed materials but my favorite one might be a rainbow painting. You create a rainbow using all of the colors you can find. You might have three different reds depending on the material – a red leaf, a red flower, a red pod – but all have different hues so it becomes an exercise in appreciating all the colors nature has to offer.
Nature Art Activities for Younger Kids
Leaf/flower creatures: Kids of all ages love to make creatures. For bugs and butterflies, make antennas out of sticks! Look for leaves and petals that look like lips. You can use small berries or dried beans for eyes and twigs for noses. Use your imagination to make a face! If you use googly eyes, make sure to take them with you after you snap a photo.
Circles: Arrange leaves or flower petals in wreaths and circles.
Lines & stacks: The adventure of collecting is part of the fun! For kids that like to collect rocks, create a serpentine line or order them by size to make a stack. Or have them collect flowers and make a simple flower garland poked into a grass lawn or pile of leaves.
Nature Art Activities for Older Kids
Dandelion lines: If you have a lot of dandelions, press them into a crack of a tree or the sidewalk to make a dandelion line.
Mandalas: If you have a few different flowers and plants, make a small mandala.
Mosaics: Collect rocks and/or shells and make mosaics in different patterns.
Leaf spirals: Collect leaves in different sizes and make a spiral from smallest to largest leaves
To learn more about Foraged Art, you can visit the website www.foragedart.com or follow @foragedart on Instagram. To learn more about Peter Cole you can visit his website at thestreetofgold.com or follow him at @thestreetofgold.
Foraged Art © 2018 by Peter Cole. Published by Weldon Owen Publishing.