Jan Beekman

"Brief Separation" by Jan Beekman (Jan Beekman, Lyman Allyn Art Museum / July 14, 2014)

Jan Beekman grew up near Brussels, Belgium. When he first moved to America, he settled in Chicago. However, his artistic imagination was really set on fire when he got away from the cities and visited the American Southwest.

"Seeing the natural world changed my perceptions of many things," he said. "In Europe people are more pessimistic. ... but there was always a positive side to me and it came out."

Beekman finally settled on an eight-acre lot in Preston, in a home surrounded by woods and a brook where beavers ran about. That land is the inspiration for the work in a new exhibit at Lyman Allyn Art Museum in New London.

Beekman says his approach is "no perspective, just physically feeling nature. ... I try not to be dogmatic. I try to make what is coming up in me."

He glories in commonplace things, such as boulders — "I was amazed by these immense rocks in Connecticut, from the Ice Age" — and lichen. "Lichen comes out of rotten trees. ... They are very beautiful," he said. "They're very important in nature. They absorb water, they give water back."

Beekman's works — in acrylic, charcoal, pencil, ink, some 3D depictions of nature, some flat and abstract — depict natural elements constantly changing and evolving, and depending on other natural elements to sustain them.

"It's quite amazing to look at what happens in a small space, just a square meter, it's a whole universe," he said.

INSIDE THE NATURAL WORLD OF JAN BEEKMAN is at Lyman Allyn Art Museum, 625 Williams St. in New London, until Jan. 5. http://www.lymanallyn.org.