Nature and Art
Both nature and art had always been in constant convergence since the dawn of civilizations. It developed alongside technologies, making it a vital part of the survival of humans. Over time, contemporary ideas emerged and movement and philosophies expanded the boundaries of art, and it was displayed under a different light.
It took a monumental approach, like that of Land Art or also known as Environmental Art. In retaliation to the commercialization, Land artists used only what is natural and organic to reshape and recreate large expanses of land.
It also adopted simplicity and spirituality as it tapped into the traditional aesthetic of Japan and the virtues of Buddhism to cultivate a world view called Wabi-Sabi. It associated beauty in appreciation for natural life cycles. It valued the imperfect and impermanent and incomplete, and allows Nature to take its course.
Nature Through Visual Art
While both of the aforementioned showcased a holistic experience with Nature, the most common way Nature is captured is through Visual Art – landscape paintings, portraits, and photographs.
Photographs are valued for their ability to capture a moment in time. They show what was perceived, and once the shot is taken, the story is final.
A painting, however, is an ongoing narration. The story can change while the artist is painting it, and the narrative may appear different to its viewers.
Landscapes and sceneries had been the subject of many masterpieces and were as well the focus of many starting artists. They can evoke any kind of emotion and would usually narrate a story for the viewer.
Van Gogh, for example, had risen to prominence through the sentimentality and style of his art. His work, “The Starry Night,” may have been most popular, but this was not as widely reproduced and was not the most bought postcard in the National Gallery back in 2013 – it was his portrait, Sunflowers.
Flowers: Significance and Symbolism
Flowers speak a language in the art world that has been derived from society. These have been incorporated into different paintings, and we need context to truly understand the narrative.
Here are a few examples:
Ophelia, by John Everett Millais
This was inspired by a character in Shakespeare’s play, Hamlet.
Made visible at the bank are forget-me-nots, which is a plea to be remembered. Ophelia, the subject, also has red poppies on her hand, symbolizing remembrance in death, and violets as a necklace, signifying faithfulness. The flowers were painted by Millais in full bloom and lively color, in contrast to the withering foliage around it.
The Seasons, by Alphonse Mucha
In this example of how art portrays natural phenomena, femininity and flowers were used alongside each other.
Here, Winter is huddled in the cold; the flowers are not in bloom. Spring is crowned with and surrounded by blossoms - a sign of innocence. Summer lazes on some red poppies – a symbol of recall. Autumn, lastly, glides on the chrysanthemums, which means optimism in eastern beliefs and death in the west.
While some paintings are as complex in their plant symbolism as that of The Garden of Earthly Delights by Hieronymus Bosch, some artists start their image studies with still life portraits of flowers. A few of which is Georgie O’Keeffe, Edouard Manet, Claude Monet, and well, Van Gogh, of course.
There is a multitude of works available if you’re looking to be motivated. Although, remember: inspiration exists, but it must find you working.