When I was trained to be a professional artist in New Orleans and New York all the mediums used to express ourselves seemed to be focused on toxic paints, glues, chemical printing inks, dark room printing with formaldehyde, and various mixed media using other stains or things as volatile as tool dip. A person who would have made art using natural objects would certainly have been looked at as either a hippy or absolutely lazy... in the art world nature made pieces lacked a certain toughness and finish to really gain any kind of prestige. When I realized my own health was being effected by the amounts of chemical materials I had been using, I faced the notion of completely re-structuring my entire outlook on what is "art". The definition that never can fully be defined. Making art with natural materials became an option I would begin to explore, but only after viewing the unreal & imaginative artwork of Andy Goldsworthy in his documentary Rivers and Tides.
"Andy Goldsworthy (born 26 July 1956) is a British sculptor, photographer and environmentalist living in Scotland who produces site-specific sculpture and land art situated in natural and urban settings. His art involves the use of natural and found objects, to create both temporary and permanent sculptures which draw out the character of their environment.
The materials used in Andy Goldsworthy's art often include brightly-coloured flowers, icicles, leaves, mud, pinecones, snow, stone, twigs, and thorns. He has been quoted as saying, "I think it's incredibly brave to be working with flowers and leaves and petals. But I have to: I can't edit the materials I work with. My remit is to work with nature as a whole." "
After being given the movie River and Tides to watch, something in my mind finally shifted - I had not lost my ability to make amazing artwork because I couldn't use paints, but a whole new world of materials had opened up to me. A world which was as endless as the things that grow and die here on earth. I began collecting sticks, dried weeds, bark and various rocks to create art pieces that were temporary yet liberating and peaceful. Artwork that caused no harm to the environment. Eventually my front yard began to look like a crazy gnome lived there building it's own empire.
I encourage all creative types to view the work of Andy Goldsworthy and banish the notion that brilliant art must come on a canvas full of paint. Nature holds more colors, variations, and beauty then any tube of paint will ever be able to compete with. :)