looking outward

blog post

When you look outward you come face to face with Mother Nature, a wise and powerful force. Creative, yet destructive and sometimes unpredictable. British naturalist and environmental writer Michael McCarthy writes:"The natural world can offer us more than the means to survive on the one hand, or mortal risks to be avoided; on the other: it can offer us joy. There can be occasions when we suddenly and involuntarily find ourselves loving the natural world with a startling intensity, in a burst of emotion which we may not fully understand, and the only word that seems to me to be appropriate for this feeling is joy."


Summer Sun
ink on archival rice paper
13 x 19 in.
© W. Skog
limited edition of 10

The hazy softness of this piece with contrasting deep shadow has you believing that the tulips are lulled by a warm scattered light and are dozing as they lazily open to a summer sun.

You can't beat nature's palette.

nature as muse

Nature is the potent power that imbues my work with color, movement, and a sense of natural composition whether the style is abstract or representational. Nature is the teacher of life lessons, inspiring in my work, interpretations of the spirit, energy, confusion, surprise, excitement, tragedy, unpredictability, drama, and innocence we have collectively experienced through lifetimes. Nature, as my muse, enlivens and informs, creatively guiding the rendering and free exploration of color, line, light and shade, and the aesthetic relationships among and between them.

When looking outward for the first time in my life that I can recall, I saw white lace curtains on a sunlit window and then, looking up, I was awed by the complexity of green tree leaves. Beautiful memories and I was lucky that they were my first. Later in elementary school I thought coloring was the main idea of public education.

I love and admire the way nature paints a landscape but also, I love the balanced color palette where bright colors reside so happily within more subtle colors. Except for a pansy garden you are usually not overwhelmed by high intensity bright color. But when you are, you are in the midst of extra beauty.

Leaf Skeletons
ink on archival sugar cane paper
13 x 19 in.
© W. Skog
limited edition of 10

leaf skeleton

From a particular story book my mother read to me I have a vivid recollection of sand on the beach --little hills, oh-so-soft mounds of creamy white 'stuff' all purified by the artist's hand to magical perfection. I could meditate on that image forever. So fascinated and be-dazzled was I, I didn't look further up the page to see the water and sky. Could they have been red?

On Vacation
pigment ink on archival sugar cane paper
16 x 16 in.
© W. Skog
limited edition of 10

Trees pigment ink on archival bamboo paper 16 x 16 in.
© W. Skog limited edition of 10

Nature provides us with amazing beauty everywhere we look. This minimalist image highlights the incredible structure of tree trunks and branches against a robin blue sky. A very calm and peaceful image that lives quietly on the wall.

golden section

Nature's organizational secret is the golden ratio and Fibonacci series which govern the growth patterns of all living things. Nature is also a teacher of perfect composition.

the beautiful unbeautiful

When you look outward you can also find beauty in unlikely places such as urban dystopian scenes that are the result of our insatiable drive toward progress. These scenes aren't meant to be deliberately beautiful by any means but it is the human hand that sculpts these unlikely works of art, sometimes with subtle visual merit.

rubber tires
Wastelands acrylic on canvas 87 X 56 in. © W. Skog

This is one of my most treasured still-life mural-size paintings. Occasionally, I like to delve into the mysterious under-world colors where the richness of mud prevails. Nature and culture co-habit the environment so it's rewarding to see a dumpster with beautiful rust and worn abuse or a pile of rubber tires. These obscure images are out there for searching eyes to see and appreciate.

The current milieu of viral infestation keeps everyone focused on internal bodily conditions but beyond the microscope there are infinite scenes of beauty and wonder for creative inspiration and comfort. I have spent many years going inward but here it is: Having spent all those years meditating on the inner light, I have concluded that going in is only the beginning.

what if I'm ok?

Stay well and keep looking outwards. The world is still your sweet potato pie with a side of chocolate torte.

Like life, artmaking is mostly about seeing the possibilities.

See more blog posts by Canadian artist Wendy Skog.

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