The environmental artist Andy Goldsworthy has definitely taken snowmen to the next level by constructing giant egg-like structures out of sheets of ice, rocks and other materials found in nature.Goldsworthy uses the elements of nature to build structures that both blend in with the environment and the forces of change. Goldsworthy states, “When I work with a leaf, rock, [or] stick, it is not just that material itself, it is an opening into the process of life within and around it. When I leave it, the process continues.” His work is often temporary, and although it might run down a stream, erode into the dirt, or be swallowed by the tides, the art still exists in some form. If you’re not into all of that artsy nonsense, you can still have a hell of a good time playing in the dirt, leaves, or snow. Here are some fine examples of art projects that are accessible by all.
Willow is by far the coolest plant when it comes to living sculpture. Forget trimming the hedges, go find a patch of swamp willows and clip off a bunch of the new growth. What’s interesting about willow is its ability to survive. Willow has one of the strongest rooting enzymes of any plant, which means that if you take clippings of new growth, soak them in a bucket of water for a few days, then stick them in the ground, they’ll re-root and even thrive. Willow can also be very easily trained and shaped to grow just the way the artist wants it. It’s a slow process, but with enough patience, you can grow beautiful structures. Willow artists are capable of creating the most intricate benches, chairs and huts, but with enough time, entire villas of woven, living willow have been constructed.
Graffiti can be an interesting way to add art and color to a blank, boring wall. The downside to this type of outdoor art is that it’s typically looked down upon by building owners as “not awesome”. Moss however, is a lot harder to get upset about than spray paint. It also looks better on your fence. The process of making moss paint is fairly easy, and as long as the paint is kept moist, the method is fairly successful. The paint is a mixture of moss (of course), buttermilk, water, sugar, and corn syrup; all of the ingredients are blended together. Once the mixture is complete, all you have to do is apply a healthy amount of moss paint and wait. Soon your design will spring out off the wall, making all of your friends think that you’re some kind of magician.
Even your outdoor kitchen can be an original work of art. This type of project involves working with mud and straw in order to make an outdoor oven that’s completely unique, environmentally friendly and above all, effective. Earthen ovens are made by first creating a brick platform for your food to be baked upon. Then you pile wet sand upon the platform in order to create a dome. Using a mixture of clay, straw, and a bit of sand, the real artwork begins. The point here is to form a thick wall around the sand dome while adding a small chimney as well as an opening for the oven door. After smoothing out the surface, ambitious artists will sculpt designs or even add small tiles for decoration. Once the mud mixture dries, sculptors will remove all of the loose sand inside and install on oven door.
It may take some time before you’re building your own willow village, and the work of eco-artists isn’t likely to be displayed in museums for centuries to come, but who’s to say that that makes it any less meaningful? Besides, it’s so much more fun to be creative outside than hunched over a desk, scribbling violently on flattened, bleached tree pulp.