"The simple perception of natural forms is a delight.”
- Ralph Waldo Emerson
In nature we find a complex composition of varying colors and shapes that can stir the senses and evoke a feeling of wonder. Emerson writes “that the primary forms [such] as the sky, the mountain, the tree, the animal, give us a delight in and for themselves; a pleasure arising from outline, color, motion, and grouping.” In short, we often find nature to be beautiful because it is teeming with life.
Earlier Posts on finding the elements of art in nature: Part 1
Form is an object in three dimensions, having a length, width and height. Like shape, form provides us a framework of the physical world but through the use of light and shadow. In nature, the form of a plant or animal determines its functionality. From the particular shape of pitcher plants whose tubular form enables it to trap insects to the sleek, streamlined fin of tuna that allows it to swim super fast, form in nature provides organisms the means to survive.
Value refers to the lightness and darkness of a color and is a key determinant in expressing the tone of the color itself. Our encounters with the natural world can summon a range of emotions whether it’s awe or fear from a storm-lit sky, or a feeling of peace and serenity while staring up into the starry night. Nature gives us the freedom to ruminate less and allow ourselves to be fully present.
Space is the area around, above, and within an object. We can feel the openness of a desert or ocean, or experience the secludedness of being enclosed within a dense forest. Space in a particular environment can be inviting and cheery, or feel overwhelming and mysterious. And like form, space is functional whether it’s the amount of area plants need to receive the sun’s energy, or the extent of a wolf's home range in guarding its territory.
How do you experience or perceive form, value, or space when you’re outdoors?