The best kind of writing tends to show rather than tell - it makes you feel without having to explain itself. Colorado Springs-based nature photographer, Wil Armand (@wilarmand) captures that essence through his work. His detailed, close-up photographs of various elements in nature are very much visual poetry. His work is distinct; perfectly capturing the earth's time-worn patterns and textures.
Wil's photographs immediately make you feel as though you were there when they were taken. It's as if you can clearly follow your eyes along the imperfect grooves of Colorado's iconic sandstone formations, run your hand along the ridges in a tree's bark, or feel the give of the sand beneath your feet as you walk about Great Sand Dunes National Park. Each photo is like witnessing a different moment in time - an intimate experience of nature's stillness and beauty.
For more of Wil's work, follow along on Instagram @wilarmand.
From the Artist:
"My artistic gift is one of seeing, and the photograph is my craft. I've always been aware of patterns, particularly in nature. The combination of elements in a scene, the placement of objects and natural patterns are, to me, very high art. What I do in a photograph, is to pause, consider what my gift of seeing notices, then gather the light of a fragment of time and hold it still, giving others the opportunity to linger in those moments.
I've been making photographs for almost 60 years. In my teens I turned my artistic attention from drawing and painting to the photograph because I wanted to capture nature as it was, in all its glorious detail, not interpret and abbreviate it. My early work is black and white, primarily large format. When I started with large format work, I began by photographing sweeping landscapes, but also captured the details. As digital cameras became viable, I began photographing in color. Today, the subject matter of my work is primarily details.
Residing in Colorado Springs, I have a variety of both mountain regions and city parks close at hand. I often find myself pausing on a trail and capturing the beauty in what most people step on."
Photographs courtesy of Wil Armand. Photo credit: All images ©Will Armand, various dates.
There is some simple awe in the patterns found in nature.
How is it that such a strong emotional response to beauty can arise when we see the repetition of natures forms? Seeing the crests of mountain ridges, or the light dancing on leaves in trees, or the way that the water leaves traces of its path along the sand? There is an ebb and flow molded by the elements, signed directly by Mother Earth and layered over time. Affina draws from these energetic imprints; the sea's vast reservoirs, or the Earth's expansive landscapes.
Nature's signature is a timestamp of individual moments that once moved with the breath of life; a snapshot or freeze frame of a particular position in time and space. When we see these still images, part of our most primal being begins to trace the flow of waves of energy, timeless as the tides. Branching, spiraling, layering... alive and ever-evolving, they draw us in - appealing to our sense of wonder. Some part of us knows that we have come from these subtle impressions, and we may for a second remember what it is like to be in that place outside of our identity. Staring into the sea, or watching creatures move through forest branches as fleeting shapes and color taps us into something timeless; we forget ourselves, we become, or rather remember, that we are not separate from that which we observe.
Therein, lies the overwhelming awe and beauty of nature. This is why it can touch so deeply into our own hearts. Forces, alive with spirit, eons in the making, have finally given birth to this human creature that can observe and revere the very power that created it, and so we have.
Nature's recurring growth patterns have been studied for centuries. Early Greek Philosophers, like Plato, studied them in an attempt to explain order in nature. Pliny, the most recognized natural philosopher, believed by observing nature one could gain inner tranquility. It is clear to see that it is so. We are a part of this dance, ever flowing. While we may lose sight of this to the turbulence of our own thoughts as we navigate the world, finding solace from it all is as easy as stepping back into the stream, hearing the trickle of water on stones carved by centuries of cascading falls.
Our minds, our cognition, and our ability to think and understand have all been crafted by this same agency, which is why it is no surprise that mathematicians, physicists and biologists seek to explain and model many naturally occurring shapes, like fractals and the Fibonacci spiral. We hope that if we can crack this code, we might learn about who we really are. Eco-Psychologists believe the human mind is instinctively inspired and comforted by nature because that is the arena in which it originally evolved, and it is no secret that our own anatomy follows these same rhythms.
While in the West,we have sought to understand Mother Earth critically and with reason, Eastern philosophies are deeply rooted in ancient beliefs in the harmony between man, the soul and nature. The ancients believed that the experience of sacred geometry was essential to the education of the soul. Native Americans belief all living things are imbued with spirit, and this is evident in their ceremony, song, and timeless reverence and protection of the environment.
Really, when we stop to think about it, the answer has been in front of us all along. It doesn't take more than a moment of quiet contemplation in your favorite forest or ocean cove to realize that we are a part of this vibration of movement and form. It calls to us from a place that is beyond reason, it moves us at the core, and reminds us of the way home.
We often refer to nature as if nature is something separate from ourselves, when in fact we are a part of it. There is something about exploring nature - digging for rocks and stones, losing all sense of time, that is meditative. In slowing down to nature's rhythm, our own natural rhythm, we connect with ourselves.
As avid rock collectors, we were so excited to discover the stone work of Stephen Hutchins and are delighted to be able to offer you a collection of one-of-a-kind, hand-carved Indiana Limestone and Crab Orchard Sandstone soap dishes.
Stephen's passion for stone derives from his career as a stone mason, a career that began in New Hampshire in 2004. He's still working with stone but now in Nashville, Tennessee where he is a sculptor and architectural stone carver.
Most of Stephen's work is made from stones he finds through his travels in the Southeast along riverbanks, hiking trails, sprawling pastureland, or abandoned quarries. With each of his pieces, he seeks to reveal the versatility and aesthetic of stone, especially stone from the South.
The Indiana Limestone used in our soap dishes dates back to the Mississippian sub-period 350 million years ago and is composed of 98% calcium carbonate, which is the main component of marine organisms. This stone is proof that Indiana and much of the Midwest was once covered by sea.
Indiana Limestone Soap Dishes
Nestled along the Cumberland Plateau in Tennessee is the small town of Crab Orchard where Crab Orchard Sandstone is quarried. What was once considered worthless scrap in the early 1900's is now revered as one of the most sought after architectural building stones for its durability and color variance.
Crab Orchard Sandstone Soap Dishes
Affina was conceived during a walk on the beach looking for shells. Our vision was to try and capture nature's beauty and showcase the importance of nature to our health and well being. Like, how a simple walk on the beach can calm and quiet our mind. How breathing in sea air and listening to the sound of the waves restores and puts our senses in order.
As children, we used to play outside for hours keeping ourselves entertained. We invented things and made them by hand using just our imagination. We explored our natural surroundings and dug our hands into the earth. In this technology-driven world, we've become so consumed with our phones and computers, many of us, including everyone here at Affina, long for real life experiences.
There's a great song by Australian singer-songwriter, Xavier Rudd called "Follow the Sun". The song's title says it all but this verse really resonates with us – "Take a stroll to the nearest waters and remember your place".
At Affina we've made a personal pledge to get outside more ~ to reconnect to nature, life and ourselves. Hope to see you there!
lie down in waves of calm
in sheets of rain
in touch, in flow
Our bath towel nature patterns are woven and sculpted using 100% organic cotton in a mix of nature's vibrant colors and soft hues.
As in nature, our colors and patterns were designed to mix and match.
Below are a few combinations we put together to hopefully inspire you.
Beneath the chameleon colors of this stiff but swaying body lies nature’s greatest gift. Within her breast, life is created, replicated, sheltered, sequestered and accrued. Built on an unwavering foundation of harmony which wraps herself wistfully through the cozy bedding of mother nature’s embrace.
As new light breathes new life into the world, the cold branches of this magnificent creation further extends her arms, warming herself in the glow of season’s change. With the sun’s caress, what’s seemingly dormant is gently coaxed awake, she begins to glow gratefully, silently blooming until buds burst forth bringing a new external vibrance to this wise but wintered wonder.
She stretches out towards her neighbors, and begins to sway along with nature’s rhythm, dancing with the celebratory winds.
And with this celebration comes other tales too. The breeze carries whispers from the wisest trees, singing a familiar but far away tune. Of the future, and the past, all the same. A circular story of reflection, growth, celebration and renewal, buried in the roots of all living things.
By Holly Rose
Holly Rose is a member of the Ethical Writers Coalition, a group of journalists, writers, and bloggers who seek to support and further ethical and sustainable living. Currently living in Paris, she is the creator of Leotie Lovely, a conscious lifestyle blog. She believes that each one of us needs to understand the circular story behind each and every object we purchase or use, and has dedicated herself to recounting that narrative.
If you're looking to find an Earth Day event in your area, Earth Day Network's interactive google map has the most comprehensive global list.
Earth Day Network's mission is to build the world's largest environmental movement. This year, their Earth Day theme is "Trees for the Earth" which kick-offs off their goal of planting 7.8 billion trees over the next 5 years. Trees are the first of five major goals they will be undertaking over the five-year countdown to their 50th anniversary.
To include your event in the map, you can register your Earth Day 2016 event at Earth Day Network. And if you're looking to organize an event in your area for this year, or next, Earth Day Network has an "Earth Day Action Tool Kit" with everything you need to know to launch a successful event.
Plant a tree. Spread the word. #trees4earth
"We can love ourselves by loving the earth." Wangari Maathai
Six years ago we attended an intimate Winter Solstice gathering hosted by Deepak Chopra at ABC Carpet. The event was a conversation between Deepak and Wangari Maathai. It was a magical night and Wangari's spirit illuminated the room.
In honor of Earth Day on April 22nd, we wanted to share the story of this amazing woman and the legacy she left behind.
Wangari was the founder of the Green Belt Movement and the first African woman to receive the Nobel Peace Price. She dedicated her life and courageously fought for environmental conservation, democracy, peace and women's rights. Her Green Belt Movement was a grass-roots movement that encouraged women to plant trees in their local environments and to think ecologically. The movement spread throughout Africa, contributing to the planting of over thirty million trees.
What stood out to us in reading her memoir, Unbowed, is how deeply connected she was with nature and her natural surroundings. She profoundly chose the tree, a symbol of growth, wisdom and life, to carry out her mission.
Sadly, Wangari Maathai passed away on September 11, 2011 but her legacy lives on in every tree planted. If you've not had a chance to read her book, its a good reminder of the power of trees and a great read for Earth Day.
“Kelly blurs the line between photography and painting. His subject matter, ranging from images of the natural world (flora and fauna), to urban and residential landscapes and focuses on the individual’s place in a given environment. 'New York Artworld' Magazine
British fine art photographer Pete Kelly sees the beauty in nature and has traveled all over the world documenting his surroundings. His photographs capture moments in time - drawing the viewer into that moment. Nature's quiet stillness comes through in his work. In addition to his landscapes, he also shoots cityscapes, flora and fauna, animals and people outdoors connecting with nature.
Capturing the image is just the beginning of the creative process for him. He creates his painterly style using a complex process of layered photographs and found textures which he prints onto watercolor paper using museum-quality digital pigments. He then mounts the print to board adding an encaustic wax surface which is an ancient Egyptian crafting technique - a technique he is considered an authority on. Using beeswax in his work is a passion of Pete's. The more he learned about bees the more he was in awe of their pivotal role in the pollination of plants and the importance of bringing awareness to their declining population.
Pete is represented by Robin Rice Gallery in New York, as well as, several galleries in London.
Photo credit: ©Pete Kelly. All rights reserved.
We recently received a request from the Sea Turtle Conservancy to donate product for their annual holiday silent auction. Although we were very aware of the exquisite patterns found on sea turtles, we were not familiar with the Conservancy so we did some research.
Below is what we discovered about this wonderful non-profit and the incredible work they are doing.
The Sea Turtle Conservancy was founded in 1959 by world-renowned sea turtle expert Dr. Archie Carr to save sea turtles from eminent extinction through rigorous science-based conservation. Formerly known as the Caribbean Conservation Corporation, the Sea Turtle Conservancy is the world's oldest sea turtle research and conservation group. Their mission is to ensure the survival of sea turtles within the Caribbean, Atlantic and Pacific through research, education, training, advocacy and protection of the natural habitats upon which they depend.
Sea turtles are among the most important indicators of the health of the world's marine and coastal ecosystems. The conservancy has a free Turtle Migration Tracking Education Program on their website where people and educators can view regularly updated maps showing the migratory movements of endangered sea turtles being tracked by satellite. If you want to find out more about the conservancy you can visit their website. www.conserveturtles.org
Hawksbill (Eretmochelys Imbricata)
Leatherback (Dermochelys Coriacea)
Green Turtle (Chelonia Mydas)
Sea Turtle Patterns
Outside The New York Botanical Garden's Enid A. Haupt Conservatory are two serene courtyard pools with lotus flowers, koi fish and water lilies, including the dramatic Amazon water lily (Victoria Amazonica).
Discovered in South America in 1830, and named for Queen Victoria, the Victoria Amazonica has huge leaves that can grow up to 8 feet. These seemingly dainty paper-like trays can actually hold the weight of a child. Each plant produces 40-50 leaves with spectacular flowers that last only for about 48 hours. White female flower buds appear in early evening, pollinate, then change overnight to male pink flowers before closing.
Photos taken in August and September. nybg.org
Above: Victoria Amazonica
This elaborate weaving is from a hornet's nest and our inspiration for a future blanket and throw. Hornets, wasps and yellow jackets construct these beautiful paper homes by grinding down plant and wood fiber into pulp.
We finally had a chance to get away to The New York Botanical Garden to see the Frida Kahlo exhibition. It is the first exhibition to showcase Frida Kahlo’s love of the natural world. It was so inspiring! The Botanical Garden did a wonderful job of re-imagining her famed Casa Azul garden and studio.
The exhibit also features a rare display of more than a dozen original Kahlo paintings and works on paper. The show runs May 16-Nov 1st 2015. nybg.org
To get the word out there on great non-profits devoted to helping people and the environment, each Affina customer order shipment will feature a reusable postcard that can be mailed off to friend.
Our current postcard initiative is with Water.org. Water.org’s vision is to see the day when everyone in the world can take a safe drink of water. We applaud Water.org in their efforts to help end the global water crisis.
Water.org is a non-profit driving the water sector for new solutions, new financing models, greater transparency, and real partnerships to create lasting change. Co-founded by Matt Damon and Gary White, Water.org has transformed hundreds of communities in Africa, South Asia, Central America and the Caribbean by providing access to safe water and sanitation. Photograph ©water.org. www.water.org