Our connection with the natural environment is vital to our overall health. This connection must include immersion. Growing up I had a good share of direct contact with nature. Outdoor sports, hikes and picnics were frequent and we enjoyed our yard as well. Feeling the earth, looking at clouds and observing the small worlds in earth and water were things I enjoyed. My most prized possession was a a very nice microscope my dad got me. Better to see textures, colors and just about anything.
In Richard Louv’s book, Last Child in the Woods, Saving Our Children from Nature-deficit Disorder, he thoroughly explains the importance of having nature in your life. From the emotional to the physical and mental development, he stresses the importance of nature to the growth of a well-rounded individual.
I tend to make myself a guinea pig in my own experiments. Having lost my way from nature in my adult life as I made less and less time to make that connection, I can clearly remember the time I changed my routine and found that “all I need is the air that I breathe”.
I was invited to go on a hike a short drive from Houston. So I packed a lunch, water, a little gear, natural bug spray, sun screen, a hat (of course) and off I went with my hiking boots. These hadn’t seen the light of day since they were last a fashion statement.
The moment came when the group walked at a relaxed pace and folks strung out with plenty of space between each hiker. We came up from the creek and walked into a magnolia stand. I was on my own. The others were farther ahead of me. I was alone in that piece of earth. I walked on the soft soil packed high with leaves that crackled under my boots. The blue of the sky peaked among the branches. I could hear what sounded like waves but there was no ocean. It was the rustling of the leaves with the wind. At that moment I felt a oneness with this beautiful space. I could not feel where it ended and I began. I felt welcome. I felt at home.
I tend to forget this vital need and maximize my days and weeks right here in the urban jungle multi-tasking to the very last second possible of the day. And then I realize that I need to recharge so I find a reason to escape with a plein aire excursion or just a plain old hike with my camera in tow.
My landscape and wildlife paintings are a demonstration of love, a respect for what I admire and wish to protect and preserve, if on canvas or paper but with the intent to share the images and invite others to experience their own moment of connection with the amazing and diverse natural environments. All within a short trip from Houston or from trips I have been fortunate to take.