To join me on a virtual sketching trip, download a travel sketch-journal here.
I add tutorials to them so you can learn the techniques and details you see in the sketchbooks.

My former workshop students asked me to upload my workshop workbooks to make them available to everyone. So you can also download a workbook and give yourself a workshop! Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Nature Sketching Basics~10-4&5-08

That workshop last Saturday
was fun ~ and enlightening.

As is often the case, it was mostly women with a token male. This ratio is fairly typical in the "art workshop world." I don't know whether most men think art is "sissy" stuff, or they're just not open to their creative side, but it's really unfortunate that a huge percentage of guys out there aren't able, for whatever reason, to seize the opportunity to get in touch with their creative impulses. I greatly admire the men who manage to overcome the barrier. I don't think all cultures are this way, but our American culture sure is!

Remember to click on the images to see larger versions.

This was the first run of my new two-day beginning drawing class. On the first day, Saturday, I was moseying along and forgot to watch the clock. My students were only part of the way through their turkey feather drawing (imagine drawing a turkey feather on your very first day in drawing class ~ but oh the results and satisfaction!).

I reluctantly decided to let them take the feathers home to draw. This was really scary for me because I had collected those feathers from under wild turkey roosts on my hillside (here are a pair at left), but the turkeys don't roost there anymore. How would I replace them if they turn up missing?

But the students promised to care for them tenderly ~ and voila! The next morning they all returned with the feathers and the most incredible drawings of them, which they'd done the evening before. Here is Chris's feather ~ Chris is a newby artist ~ always wanted to draw but never got the chance. Nice work, huh?

But with this "timing faux pas" on my part, I realized that I was trying to cram too much into the days. So, that first evening while my students were drawing turkey feathers, I restructured the second day with fewer components, to go at an easier pace so they could get everything done the second day.

My students learn a whole lot of stuff in my workshops. I usher them along in increments, with each new skill building on what they have just learned.

On the second day, which was the Landscape part of of my new Sketching Basics format, they worked on building right-brain templates in the workbook (a duck this time) , drew sticks and Sequoia (Sierra redwood) cones (take a look at those cones!!!!), practiced foliage rendering techniques, learned some basic shading techniques, and practiced shading using a small purchased tortillon a larger one they created themselves.

Then, at the end they did the final assignment, to draw a landscape from a photograph. After graduating from this last assignment, they are ready to proceed to actual landscapes (or whatever they want to draw, actually), just by putting together all of the components they have learned in the class.

I forgot to take pictures the first day, and the second day one of my students, Sandy, couldn't come and another student, Helene, had to leave early. But I was snapping photos off and on all day whenever I saw someone progressing especially well. Lots of pictures (Kiah and Ann are hard at work on their landscapes here)! And although I have pictures from nearly everyone except Sandy, I somehow missed Kiah's landscape ~ sorry Kiah!!!So here are the rest of the photos of their work. [Yo, students: If I misattributed any pictures, please accept my apology.]

I am very pleased with not only their results but the success of the 2-day class format. And according to the evaluations (as usual, filled out carefully by each student for a chance to win a free copy of one of my books) it worked well.

That 2-day workshop was the first two days of my original Nature and Landscape Drawing class. In the past, it was a 3-day workshop, the third day being watercolor pencil. I have divided that 3-day workshop into two 2-day workshops, with the second workshop featuring more advanced pencil drawing techniques, then the watercolor pencil day. I'm eager to teach that second workshop, but so far I haven't had enough people sign up for it.

It's always hard to determine why people don't sign up for a class: it could be a poor title or description (I'm responsible for both) it could be that the topic has already used up the available interested people (Ashland is not a large community), or it could be the dismal state of the economy, with people saving their $$ for necessities.

I'm hoping enough people sign up for this one, though. It's exciting for me to slow down and allow the students more time to try things, even though I don't get to share as many cool ideas and techniques.

That workshop is scheduled for the weekend of October 25-26. Hope you can come!

Friday, October 3, 2008

Nature Journaling & Sketching ~ October 3, 2008

My Guilt Index is off the charts. The last time I wrote, on August 25, I was getting ready to promote my workshops, create a "pitch" letter to persuade workshop organizers that they need my workshops, and start sending them out. And here it is October 3 and I haven't written a bloggy word for over a month! Wha' hoppened!

Well, for one thing, The Southern Swamp Explorer is now Hot Off the Press and I've been filling and shipping out pre-orders all week. The rest of the month between the last blog and now, I've been crafting my workshop promotion scheme and creating my two new workshops (a re-do of my Nature Sketching Workshop ~ see below). And in honor of the Book Coming Out, Daniel took me to the theater, for which we dressed to the teeth just for fun (that's us at right)(no, I am not a midget, Daniel is 6'4"). Remember to click on images to see a bigger picture!

And in that time, I actually did what I planned, and I'm very pleased with my first efforts. Here's the remake of my workshop webpage with lead-ins to the information sheets I made up (just click on "more about this workshop" under each heading). They're colorful with artwork, with enough description to pique interest, etc. In the packet along with this two-page sheaf, I send my business card, my Irene Brady brochure, an example of a customized workshop in case my format doesn't exactly fit their needs, and a cover letter. I've sent out about eight of them now.

A week after sending them, I send followup letters asking if they received it and offering a link to my workshop webpage and another link to the workshop descriptions I've sent so they can download more in case they want to run a workshop past their board. I have gotten responses from nearly all the people I sent them too, with assurances that they are interested and they will keep me in mind.

That means little, natch, until someone actually engages you, though. And even THAT doesn't always work out. You may remember that I was all charged up about my upcoming workshop at The Oregon Trails Interpretive Center? Unfortunately, (and not their fault) their promotional campaign fell through when the people that were doing the promotion had to close down their operation and took down the webpage where people were supposed to sign up for the workshop..... But our contract said that if the workshop were to be cancelled, it was to be rescheduled within the coming year. So although I'm not going to be doing that workshop next week ~ darn ~ I will do it later on, as soon as we can set a date.

In the meantime, I've totally re-vamped my 3-day Nature Sketching workshop into two 2-day workshops: "Nature Sketching Basics/Natural Landscape Basics," and "Nature Sketching Details/Nature Sketching With Color." I'll be teaching the first run of this new Basic class this weekend (starting tomorrow), and the first run of the more advanced Detail class on October 25-26.

Last weekend I taught a Journaling Workshop at the Siskiyou Field Institute, utilizing their amazing Darlingtonia(carnivorous pitcher plants!) fen. That's a fen at left.
SFI is a great organization which supports and presents all kinds of art, nature and science oriented classes and workshops, mostly centered on the Siskiyou Bioregion (this is the area between Grants Pass, Oregon, and the Pacific Coast. If you'd like to learn a bit about it, you can read up on it at the Siskiyou Field Institute website.

We had the class in the main classroom, and shared conversation, laughs and space in the kitchen while we prepared our own meals; and slept in tents, bedrooms in the main building, or bunks in the yurt (I stayed in the yurt, and it was a delight).

While this workshop was similar to my other journaling workshops, instead of learning how to paint an apple or gourd with watercolor pencils, we drew and colored pitcher plants, Darlingtonia californica, also called Cobra Lilies. Some of the drawings/paintings turned out really excellent ~ and we all had a great time.

It is at the very end of the season for the plants. They've gathered up all their nutrients for the year and many have already dried, crumpled and faded to cinnamon red or brown, so the institute had no qualms about bringing a few about-to-fold specimens inside for us to draw.

I went out with the students to visit the fen the first afternoon (I've been there before, to take pictures for the students to use in class) and when they sat right down and started sketching, I gave advice here and there, but mostly left them to experience the wonderful ambience and journal about it.

I generally don't take the students out in the field during workshops. Students tend to spread out to find a good scene to sketch, so if I help one student, the others don't get the benefit of the teaching. So I taught in the classroom from 9:30 to 2:30, then they sketched in the afternoons, between 2:30 and 7:30 ~ plenty of time. And were they ever intense! One evening when I went through the classroom at 9:30pm, several were still hard at work working on their journals! Wow!

Here are some classroom scenes, with most of my ten students (one had to leave early). Lynn, below right, is experimenting with some "fun fonts" which I designed expressly to jazz up workshop pages. Kristi, below left, is preparing to add a yellow wash to her cobra lily drawing. The first steps are the most daunting, then it's just fun.

As usual, there wasn't enough time to really finish the watercolor pencil paintings (that could take DAYS), but being able to take home the color photo printouts (from photos I'd taken on the earlier visit) was a big bonus, allowing the students the possibility of improving and finishing the painting after the workshop was over.

But even with the time limitations, there were a number of beautiful paintings created, and other works that showcased beginning students' remarkable progress over a three day period.

While I've mostly shown artwork here, we actually spent about a third of the time working with writing, poetry, haiku, and lettering, plus experiments with "ephemera," things one glues or tapes onto a page. You can see Karin's example, below, of a journalist's trick to rescue a good painting on a "bad" page by simply cutting it out and gluing it on another page where you can do what you want with it.

Andrew, at right, discovered how effective bright, vibrant colors can be in a composition. As usual, I'm putting up a "rogue's gallery" of the students' work ~ they chose what they wanted to display. My students ran the gamut from a beginner's "I don't know if I can draw anyting" to a more advanced student who said "I draw pretty well but I want to improve and to learn about the watercolor pencils."

I'm just barely getting this page up in time since I have another class starting tomorrow! Whoosh! Time flashes through like a bolt of lightning!

If you click on an image, you can see it larger, and if you right-click on the image, you will see the students' first names, with their permission, of course.

Tomorrow morning I begin a new workshop, with, if I remember correctly, eight students. I can hardly wait!

Here's a grab-bag of other entries...

Related Posts with Thumbnails