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Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority

Skip Navigation LinksLake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority > Ephemeral Art

​​​​​Two turtles shaped with sand.

Lake Simcoe Conservation M​atters

​Nature is an Art Gallery

As a society, we’re always looking for new ways of decompressing from our hyper-scheduled, plugged-in, modern day lives. As parents, we are looking for ways to connect more deeply with our children and for ways of unwinding ourselves. 

While activities that get our heart rate going are good for our physical health, it’s equally important to consider our inner health and to take time to relax. Nature provides the perfect opportunity for this. Spending time in nature can be a tremendously grounding force and the catalyst for connecting to our inner self - to letting go and just “being”. 

One way to boost this letting-go experience is by creating art in nature. Ephemeral Art, or Earth Art, is an art movement that became popular in the 1960s. Ephemeral artists work exclusively with natural materials to create works of art from debris such as leaves, rocks and even ice, sand or snow. Because of this art form's transient nature – being made from natural materials that don’t necessarily last, the pieces are generally photographed. Today, many photographs from famous ephemeral artists such as Andy Goldsworthy and others hang in art galleries and museums around the world. 

Creating Ephemeral Art is not just for professional artists. Anyone can apply its principles to create their own masterpiece, while enjoying the immense psychological benefits of being in nature. Making Ephemeral Art encourages creative thinking, boosts concentration and wards off depression while also relieving stress and increasing brain plasticity – all important for improving our mental health. 

The beauty in Ephemeral Art lies in the design of the momentary experience - the art exists only briefly in nature – it disappears as nature takes its course (ice melts, wind blows and rain washes things away). 

 “I enjoy the freedom of just using my hands and “found” tools – a sharp stone, the quill of a feather, thorns. I take the opportunities each day offers; if it is snowing, I work with snow, at leaf-fall it will be with leaves; a blown-over tree becomes a source of twigs and branches.” – Andy Goldsworthy​

Principles & Elements of Ephemeral Art 

Creating Ephemeral Art can be as simple or complex as you want it to be. Give it a try – the possibilities are endless. The only hard and fast rule to creating Ephemeral Art is to respect nature. Leave living plants alone and only collect materials or use debris that has naturally fallen away. 

Here are some creative guidelines to help you with designing your work of art.

  • Look at making lines - A line is the path of a point moving from space. Your eyes will naturally follow lines. 
  • Consider shapes - a shape is something with two-dimensions. A shape creates borders. 
  • Think about the form - a form is when an object has three-dimensional volume or has the appearance of three dimensions. 
  • Consider value - value is where objects show gradual shading or transition from light to dark. 
  • Give an eye to texture - texture is the surface quality of objects. 
  • Consider space - space is the emptiness between, around, and within objects - it is contrast and backdrop. ​
  • Nature ArtNature Art
    A photograph of ephemeral art. A tree stump is surrounded by branches of various size.
    Letters made from rocks to read LSRCA
  • Autumn LeavesAutumn Leaves
    Autumn leaves on dark soil.
  • Rocks in waterRocks in water
    Three round wet rocks in a pool of water.
  • Rocks with LinesRocks with Lines
    Pieces of leaves with small stones on a rock.
  • Rocks shaped as a butterflyRocks shaped as a butterfly
    Rocks arranged in the shape of a butterfly.
  • AcornsAcorns
    Rows of acorns on a dark logo.
​​Share your Nature Masterpiece

Give a voice to your art...and to nature. Describe your art using the hashtag #LakeSimcoeArt and post a picture on social media. Tag us on Instagram (@lakesimcoeconservation), or you can also e-mail a photo to info@LSRCA.on.ca​.​