Since Earth Day was officially established in 1970, April 22nd has offered an annual opportunity to pause and reflect on how we can nurture the planet, whether we’re lobbying lawmakers for greater environmental protection, adopting a green new routine, or celebrating nature’s bounty through art and outdoor activity. And while the holiday itself may be confined to a single day each year, the fundamentals that define Earth Day—celebrating, honoring, and protecting the world around us—are at the core of many makers’ year-round routines.
“My art practice and my art career are totally intertwined with my daily walks,” says Atwater Designs founder Sarah Rafferty, the instructor behind the Skillshare Staff Pick Inspiration Boards: The Art of Finding Inspiration in the Natural World. “It’s where I gather so much inspiration for the work that I put out into the world.”
Rafferty isn’t alone: Creatives of all stripes turn to the natural world for sustenance, whether they’re seeking inspiration for a project or hoping to unwind before returning to one. “I think it’s important to get outside and in nature, feel the breeze, smell the fresh air, and just take pictures for fun for you,” says Tabitha Park, whose Skillshare class Nature Photography: Recharge and Enjoy the Outdoors guides students on their own outdoor strolls. “When I carve out the opportunity to spend time in nature, it always brings me back to work with a clearer mind, feeling refreshed and recharged and ready to tackle any project on my list.”
Here, we’ve gathered seven nature-minded courses to help you celebrate Earth Day this week, whether you’re looking to plant an herb garden, itching to illustrate roadside blooms, or simply hoping to adopt a more sustainable lifestyle.
One of the best ways to celebrate the earth is to get outside and grow something. This all-levels gardening course, taught by herbalist and farmer Geraldine Lavin, starts at the beginning with basic gardening concepts and step-by-step instructions for seed starting. Lavin also covers garden planning, maintenance, harvesting, and more—then shares tips on which easy-growing herbs make the best starting points for budding green thumbs. “All it takes is giving yourself permission to get a little dirty, make some mistakes, and learn,” she says.
Nature illustrator Rosalie Haizlett has built a career around her intricately detailed paintings of plants, creatures, and outdoor vignettes. But you don’t have to be an accomplished artist to make a habit of illustrating the natural world: In this Skillshare Staff Pick, Haizlett guides students on daily walks, sharing easy journaling prompts to help them log discoveries and experiences. “This activity allows us to step away from our phones, experiment with new artistic mediums, and learn just for the sake of learning,” says Haizlett. The class offers programming for seven days of walks, but its fundamentals will help viewers find inspiration outdoors for many more days to come.
“I do not believe in the green thumb,” says Christopher Griffin—better known to hundreds of thousands of Instagram followers as @PlantKween. “I think that people simply have to match the plant need to their own behavior, their own amount of time.” In this class, he shares how to assess your space and choose the perfect houseplant lineup for your life, schedule, and visual taste—with details on the best low-maintenance beginner growths, how to listen to your plant’s needs, and what to do if you encounter pesky root rot.
Saving the planet may seem like a major undertaking, but little daily changes can add up to make a big difference—for the environment and your health. Here, writer and activist Kathryn Kellogg offers straightforward, actionable steps to help make your everyday routine a little greener. You’ll learn to cut down on waste, make simple sustainable product swaps, and consume more consciously, saving money and creating healthier habits along the way.
In this class, illustrator and surface designer Ohn Mar Win guides students through painting wildflowers and weeds found all around them, focusing on the imperfections and kooky angles that make these growths unique and beautiful. “Try to think of intuitive painting as the practice of mindfulness with a brush in your hand,” she says, suggesting warm-ups that touch on shape, value, inking, and color mixing to loosen up new painters. “As you release your attachment to judgment of outcomes, a painting practice will allow you to open up to being more present.”
“Flowers and plants may well be the most accessible palette that you can find,” says Spencer Falls. “Just as there is color and composition, and texture in a painting, there are also those elements in flower arranging in floristry.” Here, join Falls, “the Unlikely Florist,” for a crash course in curating and arranging an affordable, eye-catching, and long-lasting bouquet. Once you’ve got the basics covered, you’ll also learn to create permanent art with dried flowers and push your creative boundaries with outside-of-the-vase display ideas. Whether you’re new to flowers or arranging your thousandth bouquet, this class offers something for all levels.
Nature can do more than just inspire art: When florist Betty-Baines Saum is at the helm of a project, it tends to provide the medium, too. In this class, learn how to use bark, branches, flowers, and other items you stumble upon outdoors to create functional upcycled artwork. From using dead wood for framing photographs or paintings to installing floral sculptures on your walls, this class will change how you see the world around you—and help you upgrade your home or office, too.
More Classes for Earth Day
Try your hand at nature photography, a more sustainable routine, or botanical illustration.