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Many of us have a basic instinct to want to capture the beauty of nature. We often look for some way to catch the moment of extraordinary beauty. But why do we have this urge.
Nature is beautiful. Probably no one denies this point. Nature is also cruel and ugly at times, but is is undoubtedly also beautiful. However our need to capture it comes from the fact that the beauty is fleeting.
Think about the classic imagery of natural beauty. A flower in bloom, a butterfly enjoying its short life or a sunrise. These are all extraordinary moments of beauty but also notoriously fleeting.
In art this can be referred to as “memento mori”. Here a symbol of the brevity of life is used to encourage everyone to seize the day. A flower in bloom, an hour glass or even a human skull are traditional elements of still life painting, all to make us think about how we spend our limited time.
However there is more to learn from the beauty of nature. Yes, the peak of flourishing beauty is short, but the life circle is long.
The beauty of a rose is easy to appreciate in bloom, but there is also great beauty with the first leaves in early spring or the resilient survival through a tough winter. It is just the same as the different periods we all go through in life, each is different and can be beautiful.
Image credits: https://kew.org
Nature can also help us to feel grounded by seeming eternal, like the sky or the sea.
The artist Mark Frith dedicated years of his life to making large and extremely detailed drawings of the legendary oaks of Britain. Some of them more than a thousand years old, he depicts them leafless in winter where their shape show their ancient legacy.
If you have a garden or a sunny window, you can enjoy the beauty of nature by seeing the process of a seed becoming a beautiful flower. The peak is even more beautiful because you have witnessed the growth.
If you are given a bouquet of flowers they will quickly fade, but you can dry them and see the beauty of their bare architecture.
The great artisan also has an appreciation of natural beauty. Great craftsmanship deserves great raw materials, and great natural materials deserve great craftsmanship. Notice how natural leather is alive and will change with time. It gets weathered and the patina develops through time. That is natural beauty.
We don’t have to capture nature when we can live with it and appreciate every stage of its beauty.