Finding Your Inner Artist While Outdoors

by Lindsay Harmon

It’s springtime. Couldn’t you tell by your allergy-sneezing in public that makes people stare straight into your soul as you’re probably spreading death to all in ear-shot. It’s time to take advantage of some well-needed catching up with someone we’ve all grown apart from in the most recent decade. No no, I don’t mean your parents and siblings you’ve been calling once a month since you moved away from home. I’m referring to the closeted artist that we once were back in primary school when we had weirdly passionate art teachers who always smelled like Elmer’s glue when they got oddly close to us to help with our clay pinch pots. In the time of quarantine, I’m sharing a few tips in ways to engage with the outside world, nature, and your inner artist in order to separate from some of the madness that might be creeping into your mind as it has been in mine. I like to spend about two hours a day doing one or a few of these activities as a way to relax and create in order to become more present and aware of my own self. This has proven to have helped me the most in the past two weeks of drastic life change.

  1. Painting in the grass

Bring a nice lil sack of paints, water cup (and bottle), a brush, and a few slices of paper. This cute n nice nature activity is a go-to all year round for me and my nature pals. We usually start by painting the leaves and the trees around us, but as time goes on you will hopefully start to paint the feeeeelings you have hidden deep down. Try this one a nice six feet away from a friend with these brush extenders I found online at The Home Depot.

2. Hammock Poetry

So clearly there is a bit of a barrier here for those who don’t own a hammock, but this can be done without a hammock if you have a nice blanket to sit on. Hammock poetry is a special type of poetry that is best done in partners. Find two trees an adequate distance apart (let’s say fifteenish feet apart) hang the hammock (or throw down your blanket). Then find two more for your partner. If you’re lucky, you can find three trees that make a nice little triangle of love to hang at an angle from your partner. I usually start by reading some poetry out loud and switching off with a friend and then discussing. Then we can move onto creating our own. This usually comes in the form of one-person spitballing, while the other furiously writes and compiles what was said. Major tip: stare into the sky above you for inspiration; clouds always show the best poetry. Warning: Only invite other friends with lots of emotional baggage. Emotionally stable poetry is not nearly as interesting to engage with. Below is my brother’s dog, Socks, enjoying a nice poem of mine.

3. Kite-Flying (yes this is art)

This is potentially my favorite one on the list as this allows us to spend some quality time in large open spaces. Because many of us might not have a kite or are not familiar with proper kite flying technique… I have inserted not only some steps you can take to create your own kite with materials you might already have in your home, but also a link to a webpage to better your kite-flying form. It is important to be aware of the wind quality of your area before you attempt this. A simple test I like to do before getting started on a kite-flying sesh is to take a baseball hat and put it on my head and spin slowly in a circle while looking up at the sky. If your hat stays on the whole time, you might want to reconsider attempting this activity. This is also a decent test of sobriety, but we’ll save that for another time.

4. Leaf art

This one is super cool for leaf lovers like me. Because it’s springtime, the leaves and grass we find laying around have the potential to be particularly juicy and full of pigments to smear across our canvases. It is important to note that because we at Outdoor Adventures like to follow Leave No Trace Principles whenever we enter natural environments, when participating in leaf art, we must be sure to only use plant and soil material that is no longer attached to stems and not to take these items with us when we leave. For this activity I like to bring a notebook and a pencil with me and start by tracing the leaves I find on the ground. Then you can get funky and add some color from the soil and pigments in the leaves and grass by pressing firmly against the paper with these materials. This is a fun way to color your drawings in a natural way that adds a sense of nostalgia to your artwork.

5. Good ol’ Frolic

In high school I was once asked “if you found out you had only a couple more hours to live, what would you do?” I vividly remember answering “I would frolic the sh*t out of a meadow.” I stand by this statement and that’s why I include it as my final activity. The frolic is a style of dance that was first coined in the 16th century to describe movements of merriment and joy. A recent usage of this word can be found in an article written about college students and the coronavirus – “While most of us are self-quarantined, avoiding crowds and trying to stay six feet away from each other, hundreds – perhaps thousands – of college kids are oiled up and frolicking on the sand without a care.” –J.d. Crowe |, al, “Coronavirus Spring Break: Going viral on Alabama beaches,” 19 Mar. 2020 As you can see, the most important aspect of the frolic is the lack of care. Like all forms of dance, not everyone will master the frolic on their first go, but with practice, everyone can succeed. The first step is to find the right area. While some of us might not be ready for a public frolic the first time, wide open spaces outdoors are the ideal location. Don’t be ashamed if you need to practice indoors at first, just be sure you aren’t constricted, or mobility isn’t limited. The key is to loosen your body as much as possible and run with passion and jubilation, flailing your limbs as much as possible, perhaps adding a skip and a spin every few steps. While yea, I have included some tips on how I choose to frolic, it’s important that you allow yourself to frolic in whatever way feels the most freeing and natural. Below are some images from one of my favorite frolics of my life.

Good luck with these activities and stay safe. If you find yourself too enveloped in your emotions and lose track of reality because these activities we’re just too mesmerizing, be sure to let a friend or family member know before you leave where you will be and for how long so they can come search for you if it comes down to it.

See you outside!

About the author
Lindsay Harmon

Year in School: Sophomore
Major: Environmental Biology
Hometown: Dallas, Texas
Favorite Outdoor Activity: Hikin’
Favorite Camp Food: Quinoa
Ideal Outdoor Adventure Trip Destination: Norway
If you were stranded on a desert island, what/who would you bring with you: Hummus and pita… and nothing else