Landscape As Minimalism In Photography, Art, & Music

For me, the biggest draw toward minimalism is space. Yes, I believe in owning and doing less. But it’s the space that comes from living minimally that I love. Landscape was the first factor in my minimalist journey.

Photo by Dan Erickson

Long before I’d ever heard the term minimalism, I was drawn to the open space of nature. As a young man in my 20s, I moved from Western Washington to the open spaces of Eastern Washington. I loved the views of the open space from the tops of the desert hills. 

Landscape: Minimalism Starts In Nature

If we believe humans invented minimalism, we are arrogant and foolish. Minimalism has been around as long as the Earth itself. We can see examples of minimalism in many different landscapes: Deserts, tundras, oceans, and prairies all represent open space. 

Each year, leaves fall from trees, leaving them bare and minimal. It’s as if God himself has a minimalist bent. 

To me, nature is at the heart of minimalism. There is something I see in these barren landscapes that pulls me in. I remember moving from Washington to Kansas in my 30s. After I crossed the state of Wyoming and entered Nebraska, my spirit soared. There was something about the flat, wide-open landscape that made me feel like I was on the top of the world.

Photo by Dan Erickson

Art & Music Mirror Nature

If the landscape of minimalism was my first draw, the art of minimalism was next. 

In time, I started to notice the beauty of minimalist photography and art. I was intrigued by images that captured the minimalism of stark landscapes and open spaces. Then I began to notice some of the same aesthetics in certain architectural design. The art and architecture mimicked the landscape that I love.

As a musician and songwriter I started to see minimalist landscape in the songs I wrote. It was more than just visual beauty. Minimalism became a musical feeling as well. I began to seek out and listen to music that was simple and stark.

Photo by Dan Erickson

And So… Life Follows Suit

The combination of my love of minimalism in nature and art and my own journey through poverty as a younger man led me to the lifestyle of minimalism.

But it’s nothing new.

Minimalism is not some modern discovery. To be minimalist is not some kind of special label to carry around as if you’re a modern-day pilgrim who’s discovered a new way to live. Minimalism is as old as life itself. 

Just as minimalism has always been in the landscape around us, so there have also been people who have been drawn to minimalist beauty and a simple lifestyle.

In fact, perhaps, this idea of simply getting rid of our stuff to become a minimalist is superficial. Perhaps minimalism is much, much more. Maybe it’s this deep-natured love for the beauty of all things simple that has always been at its heart. It’s in the landscape, the art, and the music. It always has been. 

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James Ewen
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