Pure Art

Voorwold Pic

I’m fascinated by how art can affect people and by how every person is different in what moves them and inspires them. I think everyone has been moved by some piece of artwork that spoke to them or caused them to look inside themself. It may have been the colors or the type of medium used, or the subject or subject matter depicted, or the simplicity or the complexity of a piece that drew some usually buried feeling from within us. But there is something about using only what nature gives you in its purest form to create that speaks to me on some basic, internal level.

 Earth Art or Land Art is art in which the landscape and the work of art are inextricably connected. Both the canvas and medium are the earth and nature. While there are more famous contemporary Land Artists, Dietmar Voorwold is my favorite. Here’s a great sampling of his work.

I’ve been moved to emotion by many pieces of art, but what I feel when I see Dietmar Voorwold’s land art creations is pure AWE. Not awe because of the amount of work or time it took to create the piece or some unattainable skill possessed by the artist; but awe in its duplicity. My brain can’t comprehend how something can be so beautiful, simple and pure and yet so complex at the same time.  Dietmar Voorwold’s work is childlike in its simplicity of materials and its canvas but at the same time it can be as complex as a calculus algorithm. He seems to also have the eye for and gift of photography that can capture his Land Art at the perfect moment of light

I can see why Dietmar Voorwold’s work and vision could involve Art Therapy for children.  One spring, I showed my students some video of some Land Art creations and then took them on a walk as Dietmar Voorwold described it “the perfect stage and canvas…” It was amazing to see their eyes light up just by finding a leaf or a rock or a berry because they saw it’s potential. Everything they found in nature, they saw as a gift left just for them to be used for their own creative expression.  The hardest part for me with this “art project” was walking away from their creations. We took pictures and then walked away. There was something sad and freeing at the same time to just walk away. Interestingly, though, the kids didn’t have a hard time walking away. But there was definitely a feeling of reverence for their work in knowing it was ephemeral.

  • When you hear the word ART, what is your first thought?
  • In your opinion does creating artwork that is meant to be ephemeral or temporary lessen its value or beauty?
  • As a child or an adult, did you create works of art from nature?

Here’s a great video of Dietmar Voorwold’s work.

A few other Land Artists that create unbelievably works of Art:

Patrick Dougherty

Andy Goldsworthy

Sherry Eubanks



24 thoughts on “Pure Art

  1. This is a fascinating work of art. I could not stop looking at it at first because the details are beautifully filling. I also like how my focus slowly shifted to the center of the piece. I never new that earth or land art can be so interesting and unique. In fact, I had never heard of art coming from earth or land. It is very cool how you showed you students this type of art because it is nice to know that more and more people are introduced to such interesting works of art.
    When I hear the word ART, I thing of something with deep meaning, value, and artistic quality. Mostly paintings and music cross my mind. When I was a child, I would often look at different types of beautiful rocks that I would find on the beach and compare and contrast them. I would also build sand castles once in a while. That is how far I went with earth or land art when I was a kid.

  2. I love this piece of art. It slowly runs my eyes around the outside of the piece and slowly towards the center. I think that the color difference is good because the yellowish color makes the green really POP!! and it also helps bring the beauty in the piece out. When i first looked at the piece the first thing that i noticed was that the piece is some what of a halucination and it makes u look at it twice do a double take. Its a really nice piece i like it great choice!!

  3. When I hear the word art, the first thing that pops into my head is the Renaissance paintings. I just think of the paintings I have learned about in history and humanities classes.

    This is a pretty awesome work of art! When I first saw it, it reminded me of Biology class back in high school, it kind of looks like something you are looking at through a telescope. I would have never think that this was land-related art, my guess would have been more towards science. I highly enjoyed looking at Patrick’s link that you provided, I love all the different things he made, I also enjoyed reading his bio. Who would’ve thought that carpentry skills would work so great to make art?

    • That’s funny because a lot of the pieces from this artist make me think of science and math too! I guess you never know where one of your skills will take you.

  4. This piece is very beautiful. The colors remind me of summer because of the bright green and the yellows. It is a very calming picture. At first glance it was hypnotizing, just staring at it withthe bright colors in a circular form and then taking it all in was very warming. I wouldnt have thought of using nature as a piece of art, but thats why Im not a artist ;). I really enjoyed looking at the pictures of the other artists that you have included in this blog.
    As a child, I remember my 3rd grade teacher had our class bring in all different colors and shapes of leaves, and we dried them out and made photo collages out of them. It was a really neat project, and I still have it to this day! Other things I remember, is collecting those “hellicopter” leaves and opening them up to the seeds in the inside, for whatever reason a couple of my friends and I would put them in a jar and keep them as decoration. But little things like that arent valued as art anymore if its not shown on tv or video game.

    Thanks for sharing this piece with us. Makes you remember years ago when playing outside was the best thing, not sitting inside on your ipod!

    • Those are great memories to hear. Thanks for sharing them. Children truly love nature and all the discoveries there are outside.

  5. This was a great piece to look at. I love how the art feels so kinetic and peaceful. The simplicity and serenity that Voowold invokes through his land art is surreal. All of the little things he does to arrange his materials is just astounding. I like how this art can be fleeting and there is a sense of sadness to be leaving such a beautiful work. When I think of art, I think of paintings and music. I believe if a work of art is ephemeral if almost elevates its beauty because you attain this greater respect for the work. You did a great job on the blog post!

    • Thanks! I really enjoyed researching this artist. I love word you used…surreal. Some of his art really does feel surreal. it’s almost too beautiful to be “real.” I agree that the art being temporary can make you have more respect for it.

  6. This earthy piece of art is very fascinating. I have a profound respect towards nature because I believe that nature is the best artist on Earth. This landscape art sparked ambivalent emotions In me. There is an unquestionable beautify that this art displays which induces the emotion of serenity, but on the other hand it provokes the feeling that nothing lasts forever causing, sadness. This piece brought memories of my childhood, building sand castles and using rocks to decorate the structure. Thank you for introducing me to this land artist.

    • You’re welcome. I feel the same about the serenity but at the same time the sadness that something so beautiful won’t last. It is fascinating to me that most adults remember loving rocks and most kids love rocks.

  7. This is an interesting piece of art. I love how the outer part of the picture is muted without color. However the interest in that portion of the painting is in the design of the lines. It leads your interest into this beautiful center where there is beautiful coloring. The green and yellow go well together with a hint of orange.

    When I think of art I think of creativity, no boundaries, and beauty in everything.

    I believe a picture left to describe is an excellent idea. If you were to tell someone about a piece of art that you seen and they were unable to see it, they can have their own interpretation of how the piece would have looked.

    Yes they were called, snow men, mud pies, and sand castles. =)

  8. Sorry my computer shut off on me. But I really like the colors in this painting especially because the plain bland colors make the center of the picture pop out so much more. When I think of art the first think that I do think of is drawing or painting. Nature is an easy but it’s amazing how he took the basics of nature and made it so much more unique and a great piece of art work but it’s also looks so peaceful at the same time.

    I do have to say like most children do, I did “try” to draw a lot of nature mainly because all I had to do was look outside and around me for inspiration. If I was unsure how something looks I could look outside as where when you draw abstract act it’s more of an imaginative.

  9. Before taking this class honeslty all i thought art was more of a painting…i never took it into too much depth. i mean i knew pictures ANd all that were art but not really like the definition of art…its harder explain. Not sure how to use the words. But i do know this that art is absoulety beautiful.
    I believe art work can have all four just because you can take or do different parts of art and they mean something completely different in the way that the art work is presented.
    I remember when I was in like 5th grade and we got to go camping with the school it may not of been completely natures art work but i had to make a candle and shape it and make a candle stick from scratch because the point of this was how to almost like live with only candles…I mean that was a while ago i dont remember what I did with it maybe burn it cause you think it was cool if i wasnt a little kid and actually thought about it i wouldnt of burned it and kept it for many years down the line.

    • You burning the candle and not having it now is kind of like Land Art in that it doesn’t last either. I’m glad you have the memory of making something with your hands not just buying it from the store.

  10. This is a really pretty piece. The analagous colors are beautiful together and the rocks encircling it draws your eyes to the center. For some reason the part I’m most drawn to are the rocks. They make pretty little circles all around the green middle circle, almost making it neverending. This reminds me of when I use to be in kindergarten and we would glue down leaves and sticks to paper and bring it home. Also, I think when art is temporary it has the highest value and meaning. It’s life is meant to be created, send a message and be taken down or slowly decay. I think thats the beauty in temporary art…you have the honor of seeing it and having the memory.

    • I like how you used the word “honor”. That’s the perfect word to describe seeing something so beautiful that you know won’t be around long.

  11. I like how the artist uses the different patterns, shapes and textures found in nature to portrait his vision. I think is a fun approach to art because it connects in a form that other mediums don’t. It connects in a private physical way. As you choose a landscape as a canvas you get to experience how the colors of the area mix, how the aromas balance each other, how the textures correlate, how the wind and temperature are soothing your body and all of this creates an irreplicable feeling an expression that creates amazing art pieces. When I heard the word Art I thought of people’s expressions and ways of seeing things put into things like paper, painting and sculpture. I don’t think that works of art that last only for a short time are less beautiful or important than conventional mediums because memories are the best pieces of art, the ones we carry in our minds forever. I haven’t created works of Art like the ones I’ve seen here but somehow we all have created works of Art from nature at some point in our lives.

    • That’s a good point about Land Art having an element that other forms don’t…the physical aspect. Thanks

  12. I like the idea of making art pieces out of nature as it is something i used to do when i was a kid by rearranging rocks into shapes and i would always admire the colors of the leaves in the autumn season. Nature is god’s masterpiece and without rearranging anything it could look like art, take the grand canyon and Niagara falls for example. But i do see the concept and advantages from taking natural objects and making pictures out of them. There is no tools, plenty of room for error, and many different objects of different shapes and sizes and colors. Art pieces like Voorworld’s really help you appreciate nature as it is easy to forget in the technological age we live in today.

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