Something Out of Nothing

This past June I participated in a mini-art retreat (led by David Alexander) in Powell River. During the weekend we spent much of our time painting or drawing on a pebbly beach bordering a stunning lake guarded by distant pointy snowcapped peaks. Upon our first arrival to the lake (Powell Lake) what quickly caught my eye was a tall white streak standing on the grey shoreline. I quickly walked over to it, staking my artistic territory for the morning. As I drew nearer I was able to label this strange feature as a giant white foxglove, thriving on what looked like nothing but rocks, nowhere near any other significant plant-life. When I sat down, it towered above me, its white bells illuminated by the morning light, a stark contrast to the dark blue sky.

I thought, “How can I capture the beauty of this flower made more beautiful by its surroundings? Should I even try? Why mess with something so perfect?” As I drew and painted (not liking anything I did), I started to feel inferior to the flower. I began to think more; “Maybe I’m just using this flower to make myself look good – as if it was I who thought of creating such a beautiful combination of flower and landscape.” I was just copying the brilliant random choices nature already made. Big deal.

Nature is neverending in its variety and solutions: nature doesn’t copy us because nature is creative! In return, we are not necessarily being creative if we simply copy nature. However, imitating nature opens our minds to what nature and creativity are about. I drew, painted and photographed the foxglove thinking I could make some interesting pictures of it, but in the end don’t know if I did, or will. Instead, I’m sure some aspect of the flower: the reaching to the sky like a beanstalk, the white, luminescent bell shapes, the succession of open to unopened; will be digested and reformed into some element in a future painting. In the end, the lesson I understood from the white bells growing out of the rocks, is that perhaps creativity is about making something stunning, beautiful or simply unique out of seemingly nothing.

11. January 2010 by Tracy Kobus
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