Nature Canada

Nature is Magic: Connecting with Nature Through Art

Today’s guest blog comes from our partners at the Bateman Foundation. 

Sketching nature promotes knowledge, understanding, and connection to the environment, and the act itself is a mindful one: taking the time to stop, look and sketch can be a useful tool for managing anxiety and depression.

The Bateman Foundation was established in 2012, grown from Robert Bateman’s philosophy that by helping people reconnect with nature they will be inspired to conserve and protect it. The foundation’s goal is to create a lasting legacy – one where our world is preserved and our children “know their neighbours.” In doing so, we not only mitigate the effects of nature deprivation, depression, anxiety and some of the other serious challenges that are facing our friends, family, and communities, but help to foster mutually beneficial relationships between humans and the natural world.

Image of a boy and an elderly man sketching nature togetherCredit: Nina Henry

About Nature Sketch

The Bateman Foundation sees nature as the focus, art as the medium, and education as the outcome. Its flagship program, Nature Sketch, launched in Victoria BC in 2016, and has now spread across the country. The program aims to rebuild our relationships with nature through the simple art of sketching: participants are guided by an artist and a naturalist as they learn about local ecosystems through sketch and study. 

In the wake of COVID-19 the program moved online, so current offerings are available no matter where you live.  A selection of free-to-download art and nature activities are also available on the Bateman Foundation website. We hope this will supplement your own adventures outdoors and encourage you to develop your own nature journaling practice! 

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Program Benefits

For children, Nature Sketch helps challenge their interpretation of the world and teach them important aspects of eco-literacy that will serve them as they get older. Research has shown that the two factors that contribute most to individuals choosing to take action to benefit the environment as adults are: 1) positive, direct experiences in nature during childhood and 2) role models who demonstrate care for nature by someone close to the child.

Studies have shown that reconnecting with nature can help lift depression, improve energy, and boost overall well-being and mental health. There is a growing body of evidence that suggests exposure to nature can also reduce physical conditions such as hypertension, respiratory tract and cardiovascular diseases, and enable people to recover from illnesses more quickly. Moreover, feeling a part of nature has been shown to significantly correlate with life satisfaction, vitality, meaningfulness, happiness, mindfulness, and lower cognitive anxiety. Children exposed to nature show increased self-esteem. It helps them unleash their creativity, understand risks, and gives them a chance to exercise, play and discover. 

Image of two girls participating in Nature SketchCredit: Alan Li

In Conclusion

One thing we have certainly come to appreciate this past year is the value of nature in our neighbourhoods: our NatureHoods. This includes Victoria’s own Naturehood, which the Bateman Foundation was proud to help create in 2017 with Nature Canada and local conservation partners. 

Through Bateman’s Sketch Across Canada, the foundation has distributed over 30,000 free sketchbooks to locations all over the country and has worked closely with Nature Canada’s NatureHood regional partners to facilitate nature journaling with young people in nearby nature-based programming. Find a collection point here. 

More than ever, the Bateman Foundation is proud to foster deep and abiding connections with nature, offering a cultural lens to explore the world around us.  Take a sketchbook on your next hike and sketch what you see – take notes, learn the names of your neighbours. In the words of Robert Bateman: “Nature is magic.

Want to Help?

Canada’s wilderness is the world’s envy. It’s our duty to keep our true north strong and green.