Connecting with nature through art

Published 7:00am 1 May 2024

Connecting with nature through art
Words by Ashleigh Howarth

Artist and environmental educator Bethan Burton will share tips on how to connect with nature through art when she opens her home studio as part of this year’s Samford Arts Trail and Open Studios event.

Held every year in June, this month-long celebration gives art lovers, day-trippers and locals the unique opportunity to interact closely with the artists, explore their studios, learn their techniques, and participate in a variety of workshops.

The trail meanders from Samford Valley to Clear Mountain, Cashmere and Eatons Hill to Cedar Creek and Dayboro, with studios open every Saturday and Sunday from 10am-4pm.

This will be the first time Bethan has taken part in the trail. She will join the more than 40 other local artists who will also be involved this year.

“I am really excited but also nervous about this year’s trail,” Bethan says.

“I’m looking forward to meeting a lot of people and sharing my passion with others because I am all about helping people connect with nature.

“When you take the time to observe what is going on around you and then record what you find, not only are you creating a deeper connection to your environment, but you are also opening your eyes to a new world of wonder.

“Nature journaling is a great way to de-stress and calm the nervous system, making it a beautiful and gentle way to add some self-care into your life.”

To see more photos, click through the gallery below. 

Nature journaling is in Bethan’s blood

Bethan says her love of nature and art has always been in her blood, passed down through generations.

“My dad was intensely fascinated by the world, and he taught me to pay attention and be amazed by what was happening around me,” Bethan says.’

“He would always carry a magnifying tool wherever he went and would grow things in petrie dishes that he scraped off the compost bin.

“Before he passed away, he gave me a book he had kept for a number of years. It was called Bethan’s flower book and in it were drawings I had done as a little girl.

“I had no idea this even existed, but this is obviously my first nature journal, even though I didn’t know it at the time.

“When he passed away, I got to keep his magnifying glass.”

At her father’s memorial, she discovered her grandmother’s love of art.

“When my aunt came up for my dad’s memorial, she brought a memory stick with hundreds of photographs of my grandmother’s artwork,” Bethan says.

“I knew she was an artist, but I had no idea she drew nature.

“She passed away when I was about four, so I didn’t know her, but looking through her work gave me a special connection with her.

“She had a sketchbook and in it she sketched concerts she went to, her kids, and even a jar of tadpoles my dad and his sister and scooped out of the pond when they were kids.

“It was a really incredible thing to find out about my grandmother.”

Today, Bethan is passing on this family trait to her own son.

“My son has been sitting with me out in nature since he was old enough to hold a paintbrush,” Bethan says.

“He loves looking at what is around him and recording what he sees.

“In fact, some of his first words were the names of birds. “

Connecting with nature through art

Connecting with other nature lovers

In 2020, Bethan founded International Journaling Week, which runs from June 1-7.

“The purpose of the week is to bring people from all over the world together and get them to explore, share and share their passion for nature,” Bethan says.

“It started during Covid, and the reason why I think it was so successful in that first year was because people were longing for a connection to something. 

“After hearing about people’s nature journeys in other parts of the world I decided to start a blog.

“From there I made a podcast. One week I do an interview and the next week I will give people a nature journal prompt.”

Bethan also sells her artwork and does nature journaling workshops.

More information about Bethan, her blog, podcast and artwork can be found on her website.


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