Symbols of Outdoors


If you have followed the blog this month you’ll know that we are talking about the outdoors. This topic has ranged from the the lighter side — Danielle talks about not being an outdoorsy person — to dealing with loss — Kathy tells us about the recent loss of her husband and his love of the outdoors, while April shares a story of losing her mom. My post today is going to land somewhere in the middle of that emotional spectrum.

I want to get a little more symbolic when thinking about outdoors. For instance, flowers are icons that are often used in scrapbooking. But have you thought about why they are so popular? Yes, they give the feel of beauty and grace to pages. But flowers can do more than that. Lilies are often used in sad times, roses are a symbol of love, and for me personally snapdragons hold a very strong connection to youth and joy (if you don’t know the fun of squeezing the base of a snapdragon flower to make it “talk” then you should go visit a garden center and play with their flowers!) These outdoor items can be more than just pretty, they can be symbolic. That symbolism can range from cultural to very personal. Sometimes those symbols can speak louder than words. Let’s take a look at how that can work.

Culturally rainbows represent joy, beauty and hope. But remember rainbows are a part of the rain. And those gray rain clouds often symbolize difficulty. In this layout I used these symbols to represent the duality of that rainbow on a rainy day — both the beauty and the challenges. Our cat was diagnosed with cancer earlier this month and I have been reflecting on many aspects of his life with us. I’m glad he was ours and I’m sad so see him go. Therefore the rainbow seemed like the perfect symbol. Have you ever thought about using a rainbow for a sad page?

 There is a process video on how I created those rainbows if you’d like to see this technique.

Let’s move on to something less sad, shall we? What other outdoor icons do we use on our pages? In the springtime you’ll see pattern papers filled with clouds, boots and umbrellas. But if you don’t live in a rainy climate, that may not mean much to you. How can you think deeper about those icons?

  • The clouds could certainly be used for a literal rainy day, but how about for a metaphorical rainy day? Did something not go right? Cloud embellishments work great for that!
  • Was there something good that came from a bad situation? Line that cloud with silver pen and now you have your silver lining in paper form.
  • What about those boots? They could be used as symbols for an adventure or journey.

How about the umbrella? Right now that is high on my outdoor icon list for its range of uses. Umbrellas can mean literal shelter, or they can get me thinking deeper too. Hang in there, we’ll get to that!

Living in a very wet climate we own several umbrellas. They come out only in the heaviest of rain. However, when the sun comes out we can be a bit overwhelmed by its intensity, so the umbrellas can give us another helping hand.


When I look at this photo of my daughter under the umbrella in the sun, my mind automatically goes to bigger thoughts. I can think of the shelter I’ve provided for this child of mine over the last 19 years. I can think of how she is moving off to college and will now be sheltered under another roof. I can think about how someday she will find her own shelter in the world. Wow. All these thoughts from just looking at an umbrella! And yes, I wrote down those those thoughts too! They are on an extra journaling sheet tucked behind the photo block. (If you want to see a process video of this layout, it is up on my YouTube channel.)

You can let the symbols of the outdoors lead your scrapbook pages. They can take up space when words don’t feel like enough. They can also allow you to think deep thoughts and lead your journaling to express the feelings behind the photos. Being outdoors physically is good exercise for your body, but using outdoor icons symbolically is good exercise for your creativity.

How will you use outdoor icons on your next page? Will you take the challenge to get metaphorical? Or do you simply want to use butterflies, bees, and birds for a light an airy page? Are there outdoorsy icons that mean something special to you? Leave us a comment. We’d love to know your thoughts!

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