What does it mean to be creative? It means breaking rules to create something new and unique. Through exploration and discovery, we learn and see new things, causing our creativity to flourish. And what better place to explore and discover than the outdoors? The outdoors give us a release, allowing our imaginations to soar as we leave the four walls surrounding us and step into a lawless wilderness. The outdoors do not possess rules. Animals fight and frolic as they need and trees grow and sway—sometimes not even in tune with the basic laws of gravity. When we step outside to explore the world around us, we are physically and mentally free from the distractions of technology and today’s demanding world. As you step away from your daily life distractions, you can fully embrace the new and old sights, sounds, and smells around you to awaken your creative, right side of the brain.
Creativity can be expressed in countless ways. Whether you are a musician, artist, photographer, writer, or find another way to express yourself, the outdoors can be a source of inspiration. Some of the most creative minds have leveraged the natural world around them to create masterpieces. From Antonio Vivaldi’s famous Four Seasons violin concertos and sonnets, which were inspired by and representative of the four seasons, to Claude Monet’s Water Lilies oil paintings, inspired by the artists flower garden, it is evident nature had a significant impact on each creative process. Monet even notably stated, “The richness I achieve comes from nature, the source of my inspiration.” Nature, the same source of inspiration used by many others including Georgia O’Keeffe who notably spent her time painting enlarged flowers with colors heavily inspired by the multicolored cliffs surrounding her New Mexico residence.
Claude Monet - Water Lilies, 1917-1919
But what is it about nature, being outside and exploring that drives the creative process? Ansel Adams, a famous landscape photographer, said it best, “There are no forms in nature. Nature is a vast, chaotic collection of shapes. You as an artist create configurations out of chaos. You make a formal statement where there was none to begin with.” It is from nature’s beautiful chaos that we are able to piece together and create new, unique expressions of art.
Even today, while some of us are drowning in our tech gadgets, others are escaping to the outdoors to best express their creative minds. It’s seemingly impossible to go a day without hearing or seeing the influence nature has had on modern day artists. From “Mountain Sounds” by Of Monsters and Men to “The Ocean” by U2 we are bombarded by the influential elixir of the great outdoors, even with our headphones on inside of four walls.
Every time you step outside, the world presents a new opportunity to explore and to create. The natural world is vast, feeling endless at times, which also means the potential for exploration and discovery is endless. Checking the rules at the door and embracing the mayhem of nature allows us to break the barriers that can hinder our creativity. So much so the cognitive and creative benefits of getting outside are even being studied at a university level. One study found a high association between increased creativity and spending time in the natural world noting, “We anticipate that this advantage comes from an increase in exposure to natural stimuli that are both emotionally positive and low-arousing and a corresponding decrease in exposure to attention demanding technology, which regularly requires that we attend to sudden events, switch amongst tasks, maintain task goals, and inhibit irrelevant actions or cognitions.” And these benefits are not only limited to adults. For kids, creativity may show up and be inspired through playing outdoors.
It can be easy to get caught up in the day to day hustle. You can feel constrained as you play by the rules of your job, your family, and your country but getting outside is a surefire way to set your mind free: to explore, discover, imagine, and create your own pieces of art. If you’re feeling in a creative rut, take the opportunity to head outside and let the creative, right side of your brain flourish by exploring the natural, immeasurable beauty of nature.
There's no question that exploring the outdoors has some incredible benefits. To read about how being outdoors boosts mindfulness, click the link below.