Nature Inspires Art

At the Lascaux caves in France, paintings more than 17,000 years old depict horses, deer, bulls and other animals that once roamed the land.

Two paintings from the Ming Dynasty show the important role nature has played in Chinese art. Mountains in particular were revered as the manifestation of “qi”—nature’s power.

French post-impressionist painter Henri Rousseau, known for his exotic landscapes, once said: “Nothing makes me so happy as to observe nature and to paint what I see.”

Often described as the “Father of Modern Art,” Paul Cezanne was moved to paint the image of Mont Sainte-Victoire in southern France more than 60 times.

From the beginning of human history, nature has played a vital role in our creative expression. The lands and waters we rely on for daily survival shape how we view and interpret the world around us. And in turn, the art we create from nature’s inspiration becomes part of our personal and cultural identity.

In the United States, many people have rafted down the Mississippi River with Huck Finn or proudly sang of America’s “purple mountain majesties” – a reference to Pike’s Peak in Colorado.

In China, since the earliest dynasties, artists have glorified mountains as being the manifestation of nature’s vital power “qi,” attracting rain clouds that water crops and providing medicinal herbs that cure the sick. And in France, cave paintings have been found of horses, deer and bulls dating back more than 17,000 years.

Nature’s beauty and power is ingrained in our lives, our history and our culture. By conserving nature, we are helping nurture our artistic spirit and ensuring that future generations will continue to find inspiration in the natural world around us.

(-Reprinted from The Nature Conservancy)

Ansel Adams looked to nature as his muse. This photo of Grand Teton National Park, WY, is from a series of photos commissioned in 1941 by the Interior Department.

Frank Lloyd Wright’s “Fallingwater” in Pennsylvania exemplifies the influence nature played in the architect’s designs. “I go to nature every day for inspiration in the day's work,” Wright said.

Claude Monet’s famous “water lilies” series was based on his garden at his home in Giverny, France.