Wednesday, November 5, 2014

The Nature of Being

Everyone Wants You When You're Beautiful by Beth Surdut
Enigmatic Paradise series  @
Being in nature is a succession of moments that imprint all my senses. Every walk, every paddle, every buzz, rustle, call, chirp, and squeak informs my creativity as an artist and writer. Just as we take in and process information differently, so do my experiences translate differently even within my own brain and subsequent output.

The part of me that loves detail--knowing the exact conformation and coloration of feather and petal, genus and species--picks up pencils and pens to render what qualifies as scientific illustration. 

Another part of me reacts to color viscerally, judges art on its “edible” appeal, meaning that my first and strongest impression of colors is that they are so juicy I want to lick them no matter what they represent.
There are places—a moss-covered forest trail, a dappled stream, a shadowed slot canyon, an expansive night sky-- that invite me to walk in and lose my edges until they shimmer as I become part of them. There is art that does the same. 
The subtlety of gators--Dragon Scales and Hurricanes series by Beth Surdut @
            What does this say about being outside in nature? My essence is re-colored by each experience. We are already truly integrated if we permit ourselves to pay attention and experience it. Sometimes that means putting down the canvas, the camera, the journal so we can just Be Here Now. I have read that some athletes who wear a tiny video camera are mortified when they forget to turn it on, that not having digital proof of the bighorn sheep negates the actual experience of having seen them.
 I am not only an observer, but also a kind of chemical experiment, a magnet or perhaps a portal that, when exposed to natural beings and surroundings, takes in elements that reorganize and morph into something both new and familiar in the forms I produce.
I contend that
  • Art is not the “other”
  • Outside is not the other
  • We are not the other
  • We are vital, integrated, shining particles of this world
Breathe in the breath of the world and then see what you breathe out.
I have the good luck to be able to express verbally and visually what swirls and glimmers in and out of me. I am there to see with my eyes, my mind, my memory, not somebody else’s. What comes of experiencing nature betters me more than any indoor classroom situation. I am embraced and expanded by the particulars. And as a wildlife illustrator, storyteller, painter, and maker of prayer shawls,  I get to share that with you. 
"Where shall wisdom be found, and where is the place of understanding?" Job 28:12
 painted silk tallit by Beth Surdut

1 comment:

Shelley Whiting said...

I really love the luminous underwater light in the gator picture. It's very exquisite and wonderful.