Outdoor art: Enjoy nature with these easy activities

Check out this post about Megan Murphy author The Kindness Rocks Project

While many of our summer plans have been thwarted by recommendations to social distance to slow the spread of Covid-19, we are finding that there is still plenty to do outside, especially now that warmer weather has arrived.

Nature has always been a go-to for finding a little peace and happiness in my family. Area trails, state parks, and even walks through our neighborhood are such great sources of joy.

Finding ways to combine our love for nature with art further enhances the experience, giving us purpose on our walks, and creative outlets during our inside time. Here are a few projects we have been working on this summer, and some on our list to try.

Painting rocks

While this project has been around for a while, we are having fun revisiting it. According to Wikipedia, the idea for the Kindness Rocks Project began back in 2015 when Megan Murphy left a rock with the words “You’ve got this” on a beach on Cape Cod. After a friend found it, she started leaving more rocks with inspirational messages behind.

Today, the project has blossomed across the nation, with many Facebook sites dedicated to posting pictures found of the rocks. When people find the rocks, they are to rehide them for someone else to discover them. Part of the fun to many is seeing how far their rock will travel.

Just remember, National Parks have a No Trace rule. People are not allowed to take anything from the park, nor leave anything behind. According to nps.gov, leaving painted rocks would be considered littering.

Some other tips for leaving rocks include keeping safety in mind to humans and critters and making sure local property laws allow it.

As for materials, according to the Fort Wayne Rocks Facebook page, you can use acrylic, oil, or sharpies to decorate your rock, although, oils do not dry quickly on glossy rocks. We have been using 50 cent bottles of acrylic from Wal-Mart. After decorated and dried, seal your rock with mod podge, clear spray paint, or craft sealant. As for the rocks, your best bet is to buy from a craft store or your neighborhood garden center. I bought a very large bucketful for $4 at my local garden center.

Nature photography

Kids make great photographers. They offer a fresh eye and interest in many things adults have grown accustomed to seeing. There are many plants, flowers and insects you can help them to identify, or use one of the many apps out there created for that very purpose. Here are a couple tips for yourself or for kids just starting out with photography.

Capturing texture: Zoom in on the jagged rocks, the wet leaves, the patterns of a flower … anything that catches your eye.. Crop the shot tightly, instead of getting all the background in to really focus that detail.

Use natural light: Photographers often use the golden hour- the period of daytime shortly after sunrise or before sunset, during which daylight is redder and softer than when the sun is higher in the sky. Try out different times of day to compare.

Use different angles: Get down low to shoot the long, winding trail. Or underneath a tree, looking up, to capture a looming tree in all its glory. Or shoot looking directly down on an object to get a bird’s eye view. Try different perspectives to see what you like best.

Pounded flower art

Better Homes and Garden magazine posted a project with a video tutorial on how to make pounded flower art. Basically, arrange the flowers (minus stems and leaves) on watercolor paper,placing parchment paper on top. Use a hammer to pound around the circumference of the flower – squishing the center will release pollen and moisture.

Sun prints

Do an Internet search for “sun art paper” and you will find Cyanotype paper, a light-sensitive coated paper that you can use to make a picture with sunlight. You can Place natural objects like flowers, leaves, shells, or even man-made objects on the sun-sensitive paper. Set outside on a sunny or overcast day or even indoors in a sunny window. The object will create a shadow and an interesting piece of art!


the kindness rocks journal

An Interactive Space to Work through Difficult Times and Create Inspiring Messages to Share with Others (Rocks for Painting, for Fans of Pebble for your Thoughts)

Now more than ever, people are longing for kindness and connection. During these uncertain times, daily news reports focus on disturbing events such as drug addiction, acts of terrorism, gun violence, airplane rage, senseless murders and political bickering. We are being bombarded daily with images that evoke a sense of fear and hostility. The Kindness Rocks Journal provides a positive counteraction to all this negativity. The tagline for The Kindness Rocks Project is “one message at just the right time can change your entire day, outlook, life.” Sometimes, all it takes is just one simple positive message or thought to change your perspective and that is what this journal aims to do.