Erin Napier Shares An Easy Way To Use Outdoor Elements For One-Of-A-Kind DIY Decor

Finding beautifully unique art and décor for your home can be a challenge, with way too many delightful options to fill your empty wall space. While mass-produced home retailer pieces or more expensive custom works by professional artists are always an option, you may be looking for something a little more personalized, budget-friendly, and DIY. On her Instagram, HGTV's Erin Napier recently showed off a great DIY for making custom mixed-media artwork from natural materials you can find in your very own yard. It's a great way to not only express your creativity, but make a completely one-of-a-kind piece of art that is a keepsake for years to come.

This approach to making art is very beginner-friendly, with no real wrong way to do it. All you need is paper or canvas, some paint, adhesive (Mod Podge works great for this kind of project), and a bunch of materials drawn from nature. Great options include leaves, twigs, sticks, pebbles, sand, soil, pine cones, bark, or flower petals. The finished piece of art not only uses these objects for additional texture and dimension but preserves them permanently.

Creating art from natural materials

Create your custom piece of natural art by choosing your outdoor materials and paints. Erin Napier uses watercolors to create a wash of sky for a birds-eye view of the landscape for her homeowner, but you can also use acrylic paint or colored inks. The goal is a thinner, water-based paint that will still allow the texture and relief of the underlying natural materials to show through. Begin by adding your natural materials with a wash of glue to make them flat before painting over them with color.

While landscapes are an excellent option, you can use any image or style of art that you like, including renderings of your home itself in natural materials or smaller scenes like still-lifes, wildlife images, or portraits. Because the materials may deteriorate or come loose over time, sealing your painting with an acrylic fixative or additional Mod Podge when you're finished will keep it looking good for years to come. 

More ideas for nature-inspired artmaking

Using natural materials from your yard for custom artwork is not only limited to mixed-media painting. Try making some simple botanical prints using printmaking ink and flowers or leaves. Ink the flower with a rubber roller, then place a sheet of paper on top before pressing with a pressing plate or other heavy object to create an impression on the sheet. Press or use a mallet to pound color-rich flowers to make colorful prints. Or use objects like bark, pine cones, or rocks as stamps, dipping them into ink and transferring the image to a surface. These techniques not only work on paper, but can also be used on fabric to make everything from tote bags to tea towels. You can also press and dry flowers to use for home décor. Or dry and style your favorite flowers into a 3-D bouquet by hot gluing them to a canvas or wood panel. 

For a fun twist on this idea that draws from the natural materials outside your door, consider making some natural material paints, inks, and fabric dyes from vegetables, flowers, minerals, and other substances that can be boiled, ground down, and blended into all-natural pigments for making art with. This is not only a very eco-friendly way to make art materials, but can be a fun project with kids during the summer months to learn about color theory and the world around them.