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Nature as Inspiration

April 13, 2010

Nature always inspires me. Whether it’s 3D, photography, or vector drawing, I tend to gravitate towards things with natural elements. During the spring and early summer, I like to head over to this little rock garden. There’s quite a lot going on in this image even though it was taken pretty early in the season. As someone from Ireland once told me, “A million shades of green, and none of them the same.” That’s the way it is in nature. There are yellow-greens, blue-greens, silver-greens, and more. Nature’s own paintbrush draws from an incredibly wealthy palette. When I do vegetation landscapes in a program like Vue 3D, I want the subtleties of natural greens in the mix.

Growth patterns can also inspire. Big clumps and small, long stems and short. Years ago an old time photographer told me that God planted things in threes so that they could be photographed. When I shoot flowers and such, I tend to look for odd numbers, as in the number of blooms. And it usually works out well.

Even dirt has variations. Is it sandy or lumpy? Is it wet or dry? Dirt can even be it’s own texture within a texture when small rocks or stones breach the mix. I had to do an illustration of an herb garden once, and things just were not looking right. So me, the city slicker, drove out into farm country to do a little studying. I was missing the “mounding” of dirt on the planted rows, and that’s why things looked so flat and fakey to me. Once I did some very subtle mounding under the plants, things looked great.

When you need a little of nature’s inspiration, the trip can be a long drive out to the country, a walk to your local park, or even as brief as walking out your back door. City folks, don’t be discouraged. Schedule lunch at an establishment that has an outdoor patio. There will likely be some kind of vegetation in hanging pots or baskets. Just take a look at how those petunia and pansy thingies wrap themselves around things. Desert dweller? No excuses. Go out and look at rocks and sand. The textures and patterns and the way the light plays with them in the early and late parts of the day will amaze you. Live in Siberia? Still no excuses. I’m sure there is some kind of weird lichen living under a rock somewhere 😉

Document your findings. If you’re a digital artist, even a humble hundred dollar point & shoot will do just fine. If you’re a budding serious nature photographer, worry about a quality lens more than a fancy schmancy camera body. Because the glass is an investment, and camera bodies come and go.  Cameras are a whole different discussion, and I won’t go into that now.

Keep a “bloom calendar”. I’ve been keeping one for my area for about 6 years now. It’s not scientific at all. It’s more “benchmarks” for local gardens, or even mundane sites, like the gorgeous cherry trees at a little office park near here. For instance, when the goat willow bush a few miles from here blooms, I know that the little magnolia tree near it will not be far behind. Barring stormy weather or a cold snap, by referencing my little calendar, I can usually nail things I want to shot or document almost to the day.

Natural elements are everywhere, and you can make them part of your own learning textbook. So get out and enjoy!

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One Comment
  1. July 11, 2010 5:53 am

    Though, the so-called Rock Garden photographed above, looks so
    unnatural. I used to be a member of the Alpine Club, spent all of
    my youth in the mountain. Though, I never seen a rocks with
    such vegetation in the nature. And I quite doubt, if there is any
    lichen live under a rock as they need the light.

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