Sunday, May 8, 2016

It's Spring. Get Out and Paint! {An Art-n-Nature Experience}

April flew by so quickly that I did not have a chance to plan and lead our monthly Art-n-Nature excursion until the final day of the month.

Luckily, though, despite my last-minute effort to squeeze an
Art-n-Nature hike in, one other family was able to join us. 

We had a fabulous time!

 Outdoor Exploration

Our friends met us at one of our favorite local conservation areas, where we walked a short portion of a trail out and back from a pond

By the pond, we enjoyed a picnic dinner before the kids began their self-directed explorations by playing "Pooh sticks" at a small bridge.

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For those not familiar with this Winnie-the-Pooh inspired pastime, the game was first mentioned in The House at Pooh Corner and is a simple one:

To play for fun, you drop sticks into the water on the upstream side of a bridge and, then, go to the other side to see when the stick passes through. 

To play competitively, which my children and their friends rarely do, you drop your stick at the same time as another person and wait to see whose stick passes downstream first.  That person is the winner.

For fun or for competition, there is just something about dropping sticks, going to the other side of the bridge, waiting delighting, then going back to the initial side of the bridge to drop more sticks that delights my children and their friends, and, in turn, delights me, too.

What delights me, less, however, is causing trouble along the waterway, which is almost what my oldest son did.

Yes, at one point, I looked over to discover that my son had found a rather large branch and was hoisting if up to the bridge edge to see if it might float under the little bridge as his "Pooh stick". Although I am all for experiments, I quickly surmised that this one could be ill-fated, causing an issue under the bridge.  So, I quickly interceded with my son to stop his experiment.

I did not, however, dissuade other exploration and experimentation among the children. This meant that during our excursion, skunk weed did not just grow vibrantly from the woodland floor to decorate the edges of the riverbed.  Nope.  Not with our curious crew. Instead, a few skunk weed leaves were plucked by one of my children to demonstrate to others just how the plant gets is name.  Then, the same strong-smelling leaves were made into boats to float on the river.

An impromptu bridge was also constructed by the children

I was impressed with their teamwork as they built and with how relatively quickly they built a bridge so that they could easily cross the river, since it was too chilly out to simply wade across.

Of course, bridge or no bridge, when there's water, there is bound to be a wet child.  That evening the wet child was my youngest.  He slipped into the water, but was such a good sport about it and just carried on playing with his siblings and buddies.

They played in the woods and also in the field by the parking lot. 

There, while the boys played knight battle games with their Warfare by Duct Tape weapons, my daughter and her little friend ran laughing with a blanket, playing dragons.

What About the Art?

Of course, our
Art-n-Nature excursions typically include art as well as outdoor play.  So, for this one, I brought watercolors, brushes, cups, paper, and hard boards for the big kids and Kwik Stix quick-dry tempera paint sticks for our youngest friend

I offered the children a quick review chat on some of the elements and principles of art and design and, then, suggested they focus on color, among other things, as they painted landscapes inspired by the scene in front of us.  The "big kids" quickly got to work creating their own watercolor paintings.

Meanwhile, our youngest friend explored the color of our
Kwik Stix with the help of her mom. She was so cute painting her paper canvas and herself.

As everyone else painted this time, I did, too.  Instead of doing a landscape, though, I chose to try my not-so-skilled hand at observational nature journal-like artwork, capturing what I could of a clump of grass, a young bit of skunk weed, and a blanket of moss under a tree.

Obviously, I may love nature and enjoy creating art, but I am no naturalist and even less of an artist. 

But, that's okay with me.  In fact, it's one of the reasons why I enjoy hosting
Art-n-Nature excursions each month: I can learn, experiment, and explore alongside my children. 

Being in the woods with buddies, taking time to pause life to observe the beauty around us, creating artwork (and memories!), and keeping a commitment to myself and our
Art-n-Nature group all proved, once again, to be a fantastic way to spend time.  I feel so blessed to be able to enjoy art and nature with friends, young and older.  I encourage you to give it a try, too! 

You never know what adventures await when you tromp just past that tree...

Check Out Pics, Reports and Plans from Some of Our Other Art-n-Nature Experiences

When I have some extra moments, I plan to catch up with reporting on fall excursions I have yet to share, as well as on our May excursion.  I will also be planing, enjoying and reporting on our final three outings for this "school year". So, as always, I would appreciate YOUR suggestions for Spring and Summer art projects that can be enjoyed outdoors.  I'd also love to hear about what adventures you've been on that we may have inspired.  Please leave links and ideas in a comment or at the Training Happy Hearts Facebook page.  Thank you!


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