I was scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed the other day, and someone had posted a picture of a chalkboard with the saying, “Earth without art is just eh.”
I’m not an artist, so that saying didn't immediately connect with me.
When Anita “Katie” Plucker put up her watercolor exhibit at the Dickinson County Nature Center, I just stood in front of them and looked. I looked at how she had made the ripples in the water in the lakes scenes and how she created the shadows on the bridge in the Camp Okoboji painting. I saw how paint was layered and splattered to create the aura that she wanted.
I can’t do that.
My brother was an awesome artist growing up, and I just wasn’t. I can draw one of those fake-3D cubes and hearts and flowers, and that's about the extent of it. Somehow the artistic ability that my brother inherited didn’t translate to me.
So when it came up that we were starting a new Art & Nature series at the nature center in Okoboji, it didn’t seem like it would be something that would necessarily click with me.
But then our environmental education coordinator Karess Knudtson told me that creative expression goes beyond just something that people can draw or paint or sculpt. Artistic expression can take on a variety of shapes, and those forms probably encompass something within our ability.
In addition to the new art gallery, the Art & Nature series also features monthly classes and workshops that anyone will enjoy.
Wooden Wall Art begins at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 28. Participants will paint tree cookies (slices of tree trunks or limbs) to create beautiful pieces of art to hang. Paint in the rings of the tree or create your own unique design; you can even decorate several tree cookies and create a grouping on the wall.
Upcycled Owls will be held at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 25, at the nature center. Knudtson will show people how to use what some might call junk to create a treasured piece of garden art shaped like an adorable owl. Think old metal strainers, jar lids, kitchen utensils- anything metal can be imagined into an owl.
Guest artists will also teach throughout the year, from Plucker’s class on March 25th to photographer Dan Ruf’s class on July 22nd. Check our website for a full schedule of classes. Even if you think you don’t have a creative bone in your body, trying out some of these classes will allow you to experience a connection with nature in a new way.
“In our hectic lives, it is simply a matter of allowing ourselves a chance to stop, pause and then stretch ourselves beyond our comfort zones a little bit,” Knudtson said.
Maybe you’ve gone for a walk through a prairie and it hasn’t touched you much. But when you are part of a class and have to go outside and find that perfect scene to take a picture of, or you have to try your hand at copying the intricacy of a flower, or you use pieces of grass to create something entirely new it gives you a deeper appreciation of the outside world.
Those times that you are forced to stop and take a look around are the moments that you find yourself appreciating just how much the Earth has to offer, and it will help you form a connection to your surroundings in a new way.
So even if you don’t feel creative, like me, taking part in something like the Art & Nature series will still help you find a deeper sense of meaning and connection with the world.
Just try it. What can it hurt?