Bridging Worlds through Creativity

Nature Sketching – Being Curious

6CF764F6-5FE4-45C3-9F0F-74170B083283_1_201_a“I’m here to tell you that the path to peace is right there, when you want to get away.” ~Pema Chodron

The spring season has arrived, and brought forth so many blooms and greenery! I love my mornings sitting on the porch, warmed by the sun and my tea, communing with chickadees, hummingbirds and woodpeckers. The hum of traffic is lighter these days. I’ve got my sketchbook in hand, and my favorite pencil and eraser.

Here on the porch I don’t have to go very far to have so options for sketching. What catches my eye this morning? A new pair of buds on the abutilon? They look pink! I thought they were going to be yellow. Look at those little brown birds hopping beneath the feeders, pecking at dropped seeds. The rhododendrons sure are gorgeous in their fuchsia-colored blooms, and so too are the bearded irises…And what interesting leaves on that maple tree…

Ahhh what to choose.

I decide to take a walk around the garden and see else what calls my attention… The moss has flourished over the winter. And my raised gardens sure need to be cleared out and readied for new tomato plants and herbs. Later though, let’s not get distracted. Oooh…this is it ~ a delicate lavender bloom. I think I’ll sit right here and take a closer look.

Sketching in nature is as simple as this. Sitting still long enough to observe what you see, hear, smell and feel. Being still enough that the birds and other critters decide you’re harmless and return to their usual habits. Sketching in nature invites you to be curious. Noticing what draws your attention. Which birds eat from the ground, and which fly to the feeder? Which flowers are the hummingbirds attracted to? What’s that bug crawling around inside the blooms?

To get your observations and drawing started, @JohnMuirLaws suggests these three prompts:

  • I notice…
  • I wonder…
  • It reminds me of…

Then, using your pencil in your sketchbook, jot down some thoughts and observations. As a good scientist, you’ll also want to record the date, day, time, and weather. Is it sunny? Overcast? Breezy? Cool? Describe the clouds… Listen. What sounds do you hear? Imagine if you sat in this same place every day, how might your observations change?

Imagine yourself to be a pioneer in a new land…how would you describe your object and its environment to your friends back home?

Take a stab at drawing the object you have chosen. Remember, this is not intended to be a museum quality portrait of your object. It is a recording of your experience, so please don’t worry about being too precise or accurate right now. Just have some fun! No one has to see what you’ve drawn, it’s just for you!

If you’ve chosen a flower like I did, try using numbers to describe its size, count the number of petals. If you know them, label the parts of the flower. If you don’t, make yourself a note to do a little research on the topic. Notice how the leaves attach to the stem. Are they opposite or alternating. What is the general shape of the leaf? Oval, round, serrated, smooth… What questions arise?

What did you learn today by sketching in nature?

If you’re interested in learning more about in the idea of nature connection through deliberate attention and curiosity, @JohnMuirLaws offers many free videos on how to nature sketch. Here’s one that’s a TedX talk:

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