Tuesday, 7 February 2017

But how do you keep a Nature Journal in Britain, in the winter?

Now, I'm a very seasonal person. Following and recording the natural cycle of the year, and its changes, is a joy.  Britain, though, through winter, can be a challenge.  Sometimes, as I stand battling the wind and drizzle, with my boots squelching merrily in the mud,  I can understand why more people don't  journal outdoors! The rewards, however are enormous. Winter is a fantastic time for observation.



It pays to be prepared with lots of layers. (Although sometimes you can't move your arms much!) Good boots and socks for dry feet are a must, too. My fab hat and scarf were designed and created for me by my friend, the artist Palma Rea.


Sometimes though, our great British weather defeats me, but there's always something to pick up,  bring home, and draw in the nice warm studio (with a hot cup of tea alongside!)


Or  I can have a comfortable, reference sketching session at Bristol Museum and Art Gallery


Many of my entries are just quick sketches and observation notes, watching the garden wildlife from of our second story window. This week Attila, (our resident marauding grey squirrel) has broken his third feeder in three weeks and cached almost 2 kilos of peanuts! Last seen rolling himself across the grass with a huge grin on his face....

 

If all else fails, there's always use personal photos for reference. Needing a little lift this week, snowdrops from the Kings Weston Estate were called for. 
As much as  I love winter, I won't be sad to see some more bright days over the next few weeks,  and a little less mud!



Sunday, 1 January 2017

Exploring nature in 2017

Good Morning 2017!

 'Explore'

This is the word I've chosen to guide me through the year. I've lots of  new avenues to find my way along, and opportunities which seem quite daunting, and not a little terrifying.

This year, I want to delve deeper and look closer into nature, and capture even more beautiful and wonderful things. Like the bark of these wonderful 300 year old yew trees.

 

The Universe must be doing it's stuff; because I've had a beautiful and unexpected gift  from my niecelet - which is a pretty perfect fit.


Tuesday, 6 December 2016

'Beautiful British Bees' - Microscopy Art Workshop with Cath Hodsman

We all know bees are amazing pollinators,  and part of the lifeblood of our planet, but, did you know  for instance that worker honey bees are really so cute and fluffy close up? And that they  have been trained to 'sniff' out drugs and explosives more quickly than dogs? They are simply, amazing!

Cath Hodsman is a nationally acclaimed wildlife artist, who's specialty is bugs! (Entomology for my posh readers :) )  I had an amazing time last week, first, learning many new and fascinating facts about the honey bee, and then studying, and drawing them under the microscope, using Cath's expertise and knowledge to guide me.

For someone like me, who's passionate about nature, art and detail, this was a truly wonderful experience!

Here's my Worker honey bee, outside hind leg x 15 magnification.


It's incredible when the teeny tiny little thing on your slide suddenly becomes this  huge, amazingly detailed furry limb!

Cath explained how to actually take a photo through the microscope itself. (This is not a great shot as it's really hard to do, you can hardly breathe;  but, it gives an idea of what we were looking at, and some of the incredible detail.)



 Cath suggested we also do a label, which was great fun to play around with after the intensity of using the microscope. I loved using it, but it is an entirely new way to draw, and can initially, cause eye strain.  You must take breaks. We worked in graphite and colour pencil on hot press watercolour paper,  building up layers after laying the initial foundation drawing.

Cath explaining something - opposite  my workstation with microscope and slides!

For anyone worrying, all Cath's 'subjects' are natural bee deaths and very reverently preserved and looked after. She's a passionate conservationist and a lady after my own heart! There was a lot of fun and laughter during the day.


                Fellow students at the University of Bristol Botanic Garden, enjoying our day.


Here are a couple of examples of Cath's work, please visit her website to see more of her beautiful art.

I thoroughly recommend her workshops. The knowledge I gained will help me in my nature art journaling, and, in helping to save our precious bees!