Capturing Nature’s Art
by Cathleen Elise Rossiter
Maine Summer by Nita Leger Casey
“Life is like a landscape. You live in the midst of it but can only describe it from the vantage point of distance.” – Charles Lindbergh –
Recently, I had the pleasure and the privilege of being able to join some friends on a scenic, meandering drive along Maine’s coast, among tiny, hidden coves, past endless acres of pasture draped over the earth like Sir Walter Raleigh’s velvet cape over a puddle, the ocean lapping against the verdant fringe. During the drive, I noticed an interesting phenomenon. The further along our drive we went – and the further away from centers of activity – the quieter and more introspective we became. The excited chatter of friends catching-up gave way to silence laced with internal expressions of awe that couldn’t be contained.
What is this fascination we humans have with landscapes? Since the time of the Greeks and Romans at the very least, cultures have made a point of depicting their natural surroundings. These early attempts captured gardens and various ways that man curtailed nature – a form of bragging or of preserving one’s hard work eternally. By the sixteenth century, the focus changed to depicting the unaltered beauty of nature as the subject of the painting rather than as the customary backdrop for important personages or events of the times.
Landscapes, live or captured on canvas, bring peace to our bodies, minds, and souls, drawing us away from the visible and audible noise that pervades our daily lives. Perhaps it has to do with the fact that as most landscapes are predominantly filled with green – one of the few colors on the spectrum that requires the brain to do no work – thereby producing a sense of calm, abundance, and refreshment within our weary selves. A lush landscape also lets our brain know that water, therefore food, is abundant, relieving us from another form of stress and worry.
During my lifetime, the landscapes I have seen – filled with singing birds, whispering trees, and periods of activity and rest – have reminded me that there are infinite opportunities during our struggle to survive to find happiness, spread a little joy, and gain a sense of security in the knowledge that we have everything we need for today. The art of landscape painting is a way to capture the peace and joy we feel in the natural world; to bring with us that reminder of our choice to be optimistic and happy; to pause, breathe deeply, and appreciate the moment.