No. 22: Taking notes from nature

Studio Sunday by Gianna Andrews
Gianna holding wood painting by a lake

Lately I've been realizing how much I love nature...

Beyond that, it's where I feel at home. From the outside looking in, it might be obvious. You're like: Yeah, all you do is paint nature. And you're always outside. And to that I say: it's all true.

But you see, I've had a lot of work to do on my relationship with nature throughout the years. There's a difference between appreciating nature and identifying as an outdoor athlete. And at times in my life, I've placed my identity and self-worth on being "outdoorsy." 

Growing up skiing, backpacking, and rock climbing with my dad, I had the privilege of experiencing these activities from a young age. But over time the quiet and peaceful outdoor places we recreated in when I was a kid became filled with outdoor enthusiasts. The empty backcountry powder runs were skied out by 10 a.m. You had to wait in line at the crag for a place on the wall. I grew jaded as these sports became more mainstream and commoditized.

During college, I sustained a series of five outdoor sport-related injuries in the span of less than two years. The worst of them being the infamous back break while mountain biking, where bone shards were less than a millimeter from my spinal cord. Feeling rejected by nature for breaking me many times over while pursuing outdoor athletics, I knew something had to change. And that something was me.

I needed to learn how to appreciate nature for its essence, instead of attempting to conquer it. So I began painting her—Mother Nature, that is. It was so peaceful, harmonious even, to have this new avenue where nature and I could relate. The nature paintings grew into a brand called Gianna Andrews Art, which grew into marketing efforts of me needing to capture photos of myself in nature looking at peace in my natural environment, which led me to painting the nature scenes I thought my fans wanted to see, which eventually grew stale and made me question my entire relationship with nature all over again. Whew! 

So, I took a pause. 

I've placed a lot of pressure on myself throughout the years to be “naturey.” I've placed a lot of pressure on nature herself. It's funny because all along she would exist beautifully with or without me; my existence doesn't really matter to her. 

But that's the beautiful part of being human, right? 

We attach our little tiny egoic identities to things outside of ourselves, in order to inflate our sense of self-worth. We want to feel important, when really in the end we are such tiny small specks of dust in the giant cosmos that we couldn't be more insignificant. Nature knows this. Nature doesn't question her place in the cosmos. She doesn't wonder who she is. She just is. She exists just because and she needs no other reason than that. 

For these reasons, I will continue taking notes from nature on “how to be” for the rest of my little life.

Leave a comment