Ecology, Spirituality, and the Body: A Rest in the Forest

Throughout this class the readings about ecology, human body, and spirituality interested me the most, which lead to me wanting my final art project to be something along those topics. What stood out for me in them where how art could play a role within the topics and not just simply a visual role; they had substance to them. I think how important art was with those fields is what made them stand out You got to see how important nature or the body was for artist and how they wanted to speak about it through their pieces. For example in the ecology readings Ravi Agarwal, an artist in India, went to say, “I think this is a story of our times – when our footprint leads to stomping out other life forms. It’s a story of power and leading an unaware existence” (TJ Demos). That being said my overall theme is how ecology, human body, and spirituality can exist and interact with each other. Even to a lesser extent how humans can benefit and recuperate with the use of ecology and spirituality. I hope to show that with my art pieces that I will show and my personal art project.


Vincent Van Gogh

Sunset at Montmajour



The background of this piece is what seems to be a populated area of trees and the use of spacing near the top and right side of the art work is less dense than the middle and bottom of the piece. Van Gogh uses his techniques of line to illustrate how movement can be portrayed in art and the uses of warm and cold colors in this gives the viewer a sense of serenity. Around the front of the work it seems to be small pond and that is clear by the use of the reflective images of the trees around the pond. Also Van Gogh puts civilization in the background and focuses on the ecology of the piece, which puts more of an importance to nature, and that is something that I enjoy with this picture. It is more of a quick focal point because of the darks he uses on the buildings, but he never puts that much detail on any part of this piece, yet the trees look more sharp with the lines and the colors. The strokes in this art piece may seem jagged to some, but for me it calms me down. I believe it fits into my art exhibit because Van Gogh captures what I want this exhibit to showcase; the focus on nature and how we see the beauty upfront, yet we are in the background.


Pierre Auguste Renoir

By the Water



What Renoir does here is display humans alongside ecology. The texture that he gives the man and the little girl is blurry, which is interesting because the texture that he gives the foliage around them is a bit sharper. The background of the image is what seems to be a pond or lake and the cool colors are soft on the viewers’ eyes and there seems to be a mountainside in the background, but the artist does not give much detail to it, rather he focuses on the top of the piece with the tree right next to the two people in the forefront. The colors he uses for the two are a subtle yet strong difference than the greens and browns of the tree. The use of yellow makes the viewer’s eyes arrive at the man’s suit and hat. What I find the most interesting in the art piece is that regardless of nature or the human body, both are not more focus than the other, because the man and the little girl do not have the sharpest detail and the tree around them still has quick strokes for leaves and thus the detail is not as much. The reason that I feel like this fits into my exhibit is because I enjoyed how Renoir puts humans and ecology in one place and one does not out-weight the other, symbolizing how humans and nature can live harmoniously without industrialization and technology getting in the way.


John Gast

American Progress



In the middle of the piece is a woman that is flying and has more of a spiritualistic aspect to her, being that she in is flight. Gast also uses contrast to his advantage because the woman seems to be leading the settlers below her to a dreary darker land, and the use of the dark colors on the left of the art piece and the brighter colors on the right side is interesting because the land behind her, which she most likely traveled, is left lighter, meaning that she is a light source and perhaps a spirit guiding the settlers to prosperity. I believe that this fits into my collection, because spirituality is important in my collection, due to how it can give humans the ability to preserver, and this piece for me speaks to that. I view the woman in the middle of the art piece as a spirit that is guiding the humans to peace and light.


Eugène Delacroix

L’Etang de Beauregard dans la commune Le Louroux



Delacroix gives us a depiction of a forest area that is split in the middle, giving space to the pond. I think he uses the colder, muted colors to give a sense of uncertainty, yet for me it gives me a sense of tranquility in the sense that there are no harsh warm colors that pull the attention of the viewers from the whole piece. He uses soft brush strokes to not give much a sharp contrast between the pond and the trees around it. I think that he uses darker shades of color near the root of the trees to give it depth and a little feeling of mystery. This whole piece does not use warm colors, even the sky is cloudy, which I feel contributes to the mystery of the art, which could be his message that nature is something that we cannot fully grasp and yet it is peaceful to be staring into an uncertainty. I think it would fit into my collection because of the ecological aspect of the painting and how nature has a deeper beauty, one of which that humans cannot always predict nor understand.


Vincent van Gogh

Noon-Rest from Work (after Millet)



In this piece we can see two people resting on a haystack. Van Gogh’s use of the the warm colors on the hay and the cool colors for the sky and the people is great since they contrast each other, and thus the people in the frontground really pop into focus when the viewer see it. I feel like Van Gogh puts no true definition on the faces of the people because there’s still a sense that he wants both elements, humans and nature, in this case the haystacks, to be hand-in-hand because, although the cool colors make the people a focus point, the hay also has more details, it being the strands that are detail around the people. He also includes the animals in the background to level the viewers’ focus so it is not primarily into the forefront. I felt as well that Van Gogh is trying to convey that humans use the nature around to communicate with each other, in this case the couple in the front using a haystack to unwind after hours of work. I am using this piece in my collection because I feel like it has a better message than other pieces, that being humans use nature as a resting location, to collect their thoughts and rejuvenate, which is another point that I am trying to shine light on.



Sacred Hour 1

Mix Media

The artist puts the primary focus of this piece on the woman in the front. His use of lights and shadows makes the woman seem a bit more in touch with spirituality, which is a key point why I included this piece. The woman is looking at the left, with her eyes closed. I felt as though she is mid-thought and the light, perhaps coming from the heavens, is peering on the right, enlightening her with wisdom. The color of her dress is a silky white, which the artist could have used to make her represent purity and an image of holiness. Not only that but he includes a ring design around her shoulder and head, which I thought could represent a halo. And the light around the ring gives further proof to that. The reason why I want to include this in my collection is how spirituality plays in part with a human, as seen with the woman in the art piece here. The spirituality element in this piece shows the woman in a tranquil state and the ring around her make it seem like it comes from a spiritual awakening of sorts.


Christophe Vacher



In this image there is a woman with a wavy white dress, which looks like it is radiating. The artist this time does not focus too much on spirituality, but rather nature and the human form. He includes a rigid mountainside and the clouds on top of the piece seem fluffier, which I believe gives more of a peaceful vibe to the viewers. And the mountainside’s colors are rich, making it a powerful background. Yet he chooses to put the woman in the front. And I think it is because he wants to make a comparison with the human form and how simple, serene, and magnificence it seems. The woman’s silk dress has various shades and shadows that play into the magnificence of the human form. The artist chose to let her hair blow in the wind perhaps because he wanted to illustrate how the human form has a calm beauty in it, just like nature, yet is not always a smooth and tranquil as it seems, which is true for nature. I wanted to include this in my collection because I enjoyed the comparison of nature and the human body in the art piece.


Saint Juan Diego

Our Lady of Guadalupe


This is perhaps the most spiritual piece that I am including in my collection. The artist here depicts the Virgin Mary in a traditional praying pose. The muted colors gives the viewers a feeling of relaxation since the artist does not use any bright colors. Even the oranges in this piece are muted and play with the overall halo that encompasses Mary in this piece. He also includes what seems to be an angel on the bottom holding something clothed, presumably Jesus, offering it to Mary. The artist also puts some detail and accuracy to the clothing, which fits well in this piece. I want to include this piece because of the spiritual aspect and importance of Mary.


Alex Grey

Holy Grail


The artist here focuses on the human anatomy, which is prevalent as the viewers can see the veins running through the humans. Both of the humans are looking at each other, eyes closed, readying for a kiss. And the artist makes great use of negative space of the humans with the addition of the grail between them. The artist has also given the grail a holy glow to it with the warm yellows around it and it as well makes the human pop out more with their outlines having a holy glow as well. On the most top of the piece the viewer can see a small portion of the sky that is clear. Not only that but the inclusion of the circle in the center of the piece gives the viewers another focal point than the humans. I believe what the artist is trying to say in this piece is that humans can achieve a zen/pure like state when they experience a happiness they had a making in, in this case intimacy. That is why I think this art piece has a place in my exhibit, the importance of human emotion and how it can give off a sense of tranquil, holy, peace.


Claude Monet

Water Lily Pond


The artist puts the bridge in the middle and thus makes it a focus. The lines that make the bridge are sharper and have a colder color to them as oppose to the nature surrounding it. What I enjoyed the most in this piece is that bridges are man-made, so this art piece still has a bit of a human interaction to it. And the various colors below the bridge also is pleasing to the eye. The inclusion of the trees behind the bridge is a great addition. And although the man-made object is the focus in this piece, the nature around it does not fail in any way, because of the rich greens surround the bridge. I included this piece because I liked the subtle inclusion of human interaction with nature and how something so simple as a bridge can complement nature around it, which plays with the ecology and human body message I am trying to get across in my collection.

My final studio project is color pencil and the title is called “A Rest in the Forest.” It depicts a human resting after a hard day, and perhaps is wounded, on the left side of the project. All around him is a dense forest. The left side is darker than the right side and there is a stream splitting where he is resting to another part of the forest which looks to be a meadow and that is radiant with life. Near the mouth of the stream there is a stag. Throughout the art piece I hope to include many spiritual creatures. Simply put the pieces that have to do with ecology from my collect has inspired where this art piece will take place, being a dense forest. And I found inspiration with the wounded man with “Holy Grail”, since one can see the inner workings of the human face, thus I wanted my human to at least be a bit vulnerable. I feel as if my piece can realte to the others by showing the importance of ecology and the interaction of man within it, as proof with Van Gogh and Renoir. My piece connects with the main curatorial framework by displaying my theme; how one can be revitalized with nature and to a certain extent spirituality. The man in my piece is resting in the forest and forest inhabitants are around him keeping him safe while the spirits and nature heal him; which is what I want my collect to speak about.

I think my collection is unique because I knew really saw how nature and spirituality can help the human body in one piece. It always seem to either focus on the human with nature or human with spiritual elements. Never really all three things coexisting in one collection. I think my collection speaks to how I feel that nature is very important to us by allowing us to take time and relax and recuperate. I always enjoyed nature for that reason. I as well felt that spirituality can help us become better and rejuvenate our body. I always was curious about how humans interact with nature and spiritual elements since I hold the body, ecology, and spirituality near to me. I think that my viewers will see how ecology, spirituality, and the body can interact with each other and not really overpower each other. I want them to learn and take away from my collection that humans still can benefit from ecology and spirituality in a positive light, rather than using those two things for negative purposes.

Work Cited:

“Our Lady of Guadalupe.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 29 Apr. 2015.

“Pierre-Auguste Renoir.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 29 Apr. 2015.

“Holy Grail – Alex Grey.” Alex Grey. N.p., 18 June 2012. Web. 29 Apr. 2015.

Picturing US History All. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Apr. 2015.

“LEtang De Beauregard Dans La Commune Le Louroux by EugèneDelacroix.” LEtang De Beauregard Dans La Commune Le Louroux by Eugène Delacroix on Artnet. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Apr. 2015.

“Vincent Van Gogh Noon: Rest from Work (after Millet).” Vincent Van Gogh Gallery. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Apr. 2015.

“Traditional Paintings.” Christophe Vacher. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Apr. 2015.

“Sunset at Montmajour.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 29 Apr. 2015.

“Claude Monet | Bridge over a Pond of Water Lilies.” Claude Monet. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Apr. 2015.


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