Part of the fun of working in this trade is the unavoidable contact with the natural world. We draw inspiration from places, or from people or dreams and memories, but I enjoy getting out in the field and see the natural rock or waterfalls and try to recreate them as best I can. Mother nature can be a real tough teacher with her heat, rain, wind and bugs or freezing temperatures but if you can get past all that you will be awed at what can be seen out there or should I say inspired?
Pick up a branch and try to simulate it at a much larger scale and you will see it a lot differently than just giving it a passing glance, or how about a small stone that you will make as big as a house! It is easy to look at objects but a lot different if you are simulating it, I mean to say you will truly “see” it. It has always been amazing to me to have a piece of the natural work, i.e., rock, branch, root right in front of me as I work and I will constantly keep looking at it to answer questions like what color is first? What about the recesses? Is that a smooth or rough texture? Will the texture change? It just goes on and on and on!
Soon you will have bits and pieces of stuff all over your studio or house or bathroom ahem! Rocks, mushrooms, roots and fossils the list goes on. My wife has accused me of turning our home into a natural history museum. Point is, all of this will help your simulations look better.
It is important to not destroy or wreck the natural world in your pursuits. This trade has given birth to many pro-environment people, or animal activist and even new Zoo directors and curators, there is no end to where this trade can take you. Please be respectful of our natural world and only collect what can be taken without collateral damage.
Videography and photography are helpful tools as well, easily document color schemes and fracture patterns in rock. I have a very extensive library of photos and video that I use quite frequently. There is no limit or guides here, just take pictures and leave footprints, and if your really good no footprints, lol!
Oh! One last thing, if your family comes along with you on one of your adventures be sure to take pictures of them too because they are much more important than sticks and rocks.
Hike on brothers and sisters!

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