River Art: Scenic Art Good for the Soul

There are few images more calming, or more invigorating, than the river. From Ansel Adams to Van Gogh, artists use a variety of mediums to depict rivers, and all that they carry along with them. In this post, we’ll explore all of our favorite river art, and also talk about the different metaphors artists have employed with the image of a river.

river art

Rushing River Art Signifies Wisdom

The river is a great teacher. Though life is full of twists and turns, slow parts and rough rapids, the water flows around each obstacle with grace. The weather could be windy and raining… but the river would still flow. There could be lightning! Or hail! But the river would still flow. Even when it encounters a fork in its path and is forced to part ways, essentially splitting in two, the river just keeps on moving.

Rather than look back and dwell on the past, the river pushes forward, leaving behind the obstacles it has overcome. The water is where it is, right now, accepting each change with grace. As the river continues to move forward despite everything in its path, we can gain wisdom from this movement. The river reminds us that we can still push forward, that we have the momentum to continue on no matter what we encounter.  The rushing river teaches us wisdom.

river art

River Art Portrays The Importance of Change

Continuous change is healthy in this life, whether we are talking about people, organizations, situations, or the natural world. If rivers did not move, they would simply be… puddles! Puddles, while fun to splash in, are not life-giving. Sure, they can host a variety of dirt and bacteria before they dry up again. But the real thriving source of vitality is a river.

The continual shift of rivers allow them to touch new places, and bring life to new plants and animals. The wandering length of a river is important for travel, and for bringing new goods to the rest of the world. The river can wash away filth and even disease, and bring with it fresh water, or a fresh perspective. The ever-changing river shows us the importance of shifting, of rinsing, of starting anew. We can learn a lot about the importance of change from the river.

river art

The River is a Metaphor for Life Itself

Wisdom… change… resilience… flexibility…  all of these things can be symbolized by the river. In fact, the river can symbolize all of them at the same time! River art is a great reminder of the twists and turns of life itself.  Anyone who has lived long enough to encounter the challenges and obstacles of life can relate to the image of a river.

The river changes as it travels down the landscape. Sometimes, the river is wide, calm, and inviting. Other times, the water is rocky, rushing past with a formidable current. Our lives rarely stay the same for very long. We go through tranquil times when things seem to be flowing swimmingly, and we experience times when our life is admittedly rough.

river art


River art, when it shows a large portion of the river all at once, can remind us that things will be different, further down the riverbed. It reminds us of the hope that we have, and the beauty that surrounds us.  What a great reminder!