The Parkway District • 1235 Apalachee Parkway • Open Daily 8am - 10pm • 850.942.2557

Give Outdoor Art a Try!

If you are looking for a new way to enjoy the outdoors, grab some paper and your favorite art materials - colored pencils, watercolors, or crayons for the little ones - and head on out! Creating art en plein air - french for “in the open air” - is a fantastic way to truly absorb your surroundings and see nature in a new way and it was a style used van Gogh, Monet, Renoir and Cassatt. When creating art from life (like when immersed in nature), one is challenged to concentrate completely on their surroundings. Their sense absorb everything from sight to sound, temperature to atmosphere, and these feelings can be conveyed in the drawing or painting.


When I head out on a hike, I always bring a small watercolor sketchbook, a pencil, some plain old Crayola cake watercolors and a tiny cup for water (like a used yogurt tub). While hiking, if with my 6 year old, I will ask her is she would like to paint the bird, or that tree, or the waterfall. When painting an object that involves water, I will often use water from that source to create our paintings to add another element of sentimentality. When you or your little artist is ready, lay out a small blanket or beach towel and get to work. The thing I like to emphasize when encouraging others to paint outdoors is that the point is not to make your piece look like a picture because it’s not a picture! Infuse your own style into the piece: wide lines, bold colors, etc. One thing to keep in mind when creating natural art is to bring any trash you generated with you, including any water used as the paint in the water might be harmful to the environment when poured out.

If you are creating with a child and you would like to take their art a step further, have them paint a bird or tree and when you get home, make a game out of identifying that bird or tree! You could scan all their pieces after they have made enough and create a simple nature ID guide using an online book printing service and give those as gifts come holiday season. Or you can scan their pieces and have them printed on greeting cards to send to friends and family.

Painting outdoors is not just for master artists - there is an artist in each and every one of us and your style is 100% unique to you so every piece you create will be just as unique. Next time you are heading out to explore the great outdoors, leave the art critique in your mind at home and head out for an adventure that has an artistic element to it!

Looking for inspiring places to create outdoor art? Try 
Falling Waters State Park, Lake Hall at Maclay Gardens State Park, or the scenic Canopy Walkway at Lafayette Heritage Trail Park.

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