Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature. It will never fail you.—Frank Lloyd Wright

Artists have long been drawn to nature as a source of inspiration for their art. Prehistoric art dating back 45,000 years features wild pigs, and the famous Lascaux cave paintings depict horses, bulls and cows.

Nature is ever-changing, and thus remains a powerful muse for contemporary artists across nearly every medium. Take Cathy Sheeter, Kirk Randle and Carolyn Thome for example. Each works in a vastly different medium, but they share a passion for representing the natural world.

Cathy majored in animal sciences in college before turning to more artistic pursuits. Her scratchboard works feature animals out in nature, and she enjoys getting outside to take photographs, which serve as her source material.

“It’s as integral for me to get out in the field and have those experiences in nature that lead to my work as it is to create the actual artwork that you see on my walls,” she said.

Kirk does much of his work in nature, bringing an easel, paint and brushes in a hiking pack to remote areas of his native Utah and other vistas throughout the country. He lives to find the unexplored angle and capture the light and scenery in the moment. For him, it’s the thrill of the chase for the perfect scene that keeps his art fresh and exciting.

“It’s like an adventure,” he said. “You don’t know what you’re going to see, what you’re going to do. But you have to go for it. That’s what motivates my paintings. It’s always an adventure.”

Some of Carolyn’s earliest memories are with a camera in hand, so it’s no surprise that she explores nature through a lens. After a decade-long successful career as a model maker for films and The Smithsonian, her husband gifted her with a studio where she could explore her own non-commercial creative pursuits.

She grabbed her beloved camera and headed out into her backyard to scavenge for mushrooms — another hobby cultivated outside work. Little did she know, that would kickstart a side hustle as a fine art artist.

Carolyn brings her finds back to the studio, examines them up close under the camera then captures compelling macro images of her subjects. The result is a larger-than-life, bursting-with-character portrayal of a seemingly everyday object.

“To look at something small and really focus on it, that’s what I like about enlarging images,” she said. “I’m sure we could all go out there for a walk in the courtyard and find some things that would be really interesting to photograph.”

And indeed, that was the shared message from all three artists. The natural world is an unending source of inspiration. Whether you hike the Tetons or simply wander around your neighborhood, nature will provide some magical visuals.

See the full Art Discovery recap below.

Cathy Sheeter

Kirk Randle

Carolyn Thome