Hike + Art Excursion at Shaw Nature Reserve
One of the things I've promised myself recently is that I will do more of what makes me happy. With limited time, that's surprisingly difficult. This weekend though, I combined two of my favorite things— hiking and painting— into a wonderful art excursion at Shaw Nature Reserve in Gray Summit, Missouri. The decision to go this weekend turned out to be especially prescient— my uncle passed away on Friday night, and I needed to do something meditative to help deal with the grief. Spending several hours outside alone in the woodlands and prairies at Shaw with a camera and brush in hand was exactly right.
Fairly early in my hike, I rounded a bend in the trail and was greeting with an absolutely breathtaking explosion of huge yellow and purple wildflowers— more than 10 feet tall in places! The daisies help set the theme for what I chose to paint later on.
Later, I came across some wildflowers that were dying. It is autumn now, after all, and many flowers and plants are beginning to turn brown and die back for the winter (even if it is still about 90 degrees out).
The wilting flowers returning to the earth struck a chord with me because of my uncle's death. I knew I wanted to paint flowers as they faded and find beauty in the cycles of nature.
To start, I began with a warm-up painting of the forest around me, focusing on appreciating the land, light, and shadows. Then it was on to the flowers.
You can see in the close-up image how the leaves have also been eaten away. My uncle had lung cancer, so the damage to the leaves felt symbolic.
I think I will trim down the flower piece and hang it in my studio as a reminder that life may be fleeting, but it is still beautiful.
Is there anything you do to find calm and happiness, even during difficult times? Please share in the comments.