Since humans have been creating art, nature has been a significant inspiration. It shows in the works of everyone, from the ancient cave paintings to Bob Ross’s famous trompe l’oiel landscapes. One way that rock piles were used in ancient times, for example, was to measure the seasonal solstices and equinoxes. Likewise, children are moved by the world that they know to create their art. If you observe them in just about any environment, they don’t even try to work against it. It’s all they know about the world so far. Nature being no exception.
When children create art inspired by nature, it allows them to tune into and better appreciate nature. One study found that allowing kids to create nature art enhances their connection and inspires them to make positive changes. One way that kids can cleanly bring out this expression is through something called ephemeral art. Ephemeral art involves anonymously working with natural objects within their native environment. They can be made into anything from mandalas to temporary sculptures. There’s no mess to clean up, unlike with paint and charcoal, and it’s only temporary. The only way it can be shown outside of its environment is through photographs.
Ephemeral art is also a way to teach kids about the impermanence of all life in this world. It’s also a way to teach them to give back something they make to where it belongs in nature and that not everything in the world belongs to them. Kids can get creative with nature art just by going outside and getting creative whatever’s there. There aren’t any special tools needed.
You can also introduce your child to some ephemeral artists such as Andy Goldsworthy. He works with whatever’s in front of him. Goldsworthy’s secret is simply tuning into nature on a holistic level. As he knows, nature has a way of connecting with us back in a way that man-made buildings don’t. Then once he gets a feel for how the objects express themselves, that’s when he starts creating. Once he’s finished, he then lets nature take its course again.
Richard Shilling is another well-known ephemeral artist. Like Goldsworthy, he's known for creating art out of anything he sees in nature. Sometimes, he uses non-natural waste that he finds to make statements about littering and pollution. He photographs everything he makes without any light tricks, photoshopping, or filters.
Zach Pine is yet another well-known artist. In 2000, he discovered one of the best techniques for making near-perfect spheres from ocean sand. He’s been using his globes, ephemeral art workshops and events to connect with people on the western coasts ever since.
Pine also came up with a way for kids to practice balancing their natural art with simple rock sculptures. The challenge is to try to stack them, like Jenga blocks, without any outside support. This is an excellent way for kids and people of all ages to have fun and relax while making art.
Ephemeral art isn’t just for kids. It’s for people of all ages. It’s very relaxing and therapeutic. It helps us to get back to our natural roots. Nature has no favorites but has its own flow. Ephemeral art is a way to work with the flow of nature instead of against it.
Also, unlike with a fine arts critique, nature doesn’t judge. It doesn’t care whether you position or line something up in a certain way. It doesn’t care whether your shape is recognizable or how it’s textured. Unlike paper, nature doesn’t know any boundary lines. Nature is simply happy to meet with and work with you as you are.