There is no denying that nature is beautiful. The colors, patterns and overall wonders of the outdoors have been the inspiration of many artists throughout the centuries.

Cave drawings of animals and ancient Egyptian sculptures of sphinxes were around long before Claude Monet ever painted his Water Lilies or Vincent van Gogh picked up a brush to create his Starry Night.

Yet we cannot be fooled into thinking that humans are the only artists capable of producing masterpieces. The animals and plants that so often are depicted in works of art are themselves the true original artists.

I'm sure everyone has happened upon a spider web stretched between two trees, the delicate silk of the web still laced with the droplets of early morning dew.

Suddenly, a light breeze begins to blow and gently lifts the web, causing the droplets to catch the morning light and glimmer like diamonds. It's amazing that such a small creature can make something so intricate in such a short amount of time.

While human artists can spend months working on a single piece of art, the average orb-weaving spider can spin a web in about one hour.

They will usually create a new web each day in order to maintain the sticky quality of the thread that is necessary for catching their prey. Their meticulous attention to detail and steady determination allows them to create a masterpiece that is not only an effective insect-capturing device but also an object beautiful to behold.

Then there are the hive builders.

Many people cringe when they see a black and yellow striped insect, but these small animals are industrious workers and amazing architectural designers.

Bees and wasps were perhaps the original founders of cubism, a form of artwork that consists of geometric shapes used by human artists Georges Braque and the more well-known Pablo Picasso.

The insects, however, seem to prefer a more ordered symmetry to their art rather than an abstract assortment of shapes. For instance, honey bee hives are composed of numerous six-sided wax cells that fit together perfectly.

Scientists still are debating the reason for this hexagonal shape, but it is commonly believed that this formation allows for a large number of cells in limited spaces.

Other scientists think that the hexagon is an accident that occurs when several bees are making cells next to each other at the same time, causing the cells to bump into each other. Where the different cells touch, a straight line is formed.

Whatever the reason, there is no debating that the honey bee hive is a masterful work of art.

Occasionally, there will be phases in a human artist's life that will be reflected in their artwork. Picasso had his red period where many of his pieces of artwork exhibited a warm, rosy glow.

The red period was preceded by his blue period, where many of his paintings had a somber, gloomy hue.

In the world of animal artists, the bower bird seems to be forever stuck in his blue period.

Male bower birds have a very interesting way of attracting mates. They first will construct an elaborate structure out of leaves, twigs and sticks that is called a "bower."

However, if you think this lovely bower is enough to catch the eye of a single, young, female bird you are sadly mistaken. The female birds want a bit of decoration, and in the case of some bower birds, that decoration must be blue.

Bottle caps, bits of string, straws or small rocks, it doesn't matter what the object is. As long as it is blue, it is carefully collected and artfully positioned by the male bird around his bower.

The bluer the bower, the better the chance the male has of being noticed by the female.

This proves that artists are, indeed, all romantics at heart.

From the pattern of bark on a tree to the ripple of wind over a field of corn, it doesn't take long to realize why so many human artists look to nature for their inspiration.

You don't have to be an artist yourself to appreciate the art work of others. This includes those unique sculptures and designs created by artists of the non-human variety.

Whenever you step outside, you are walking into the canvas that is nature, and beautiful masterpieces can be found wherever you look.

Visit our award-winning Web site at www.garden-city.org/zoo.