Drawing the Land

Drawing teaches close observation, how to sit still and be quiet, along with a range of artistic skills.

Spend 5 minutes looking deeply at a natural object, and 10 minutes drawing it. What did you notice about this object that you’d never noticed before? What is its shape, size, colour, texture, growth pattern?

Loosely hold a pencil on a pad of paper, and walk; let the pencil move as you walk. What does your movement look like?

Push your pencil through a piece of cardstock with a hole in it, and draw what you see onto the paper beneath the cardstock.

Collect different kinds of dirt. Add a bit of water to them, and paint with them.

Gather different kinds of leaves, grasses, bark, flowers; place them in individual jars with water; place them in the sun, and let them sit for a week or two. What has happened? Can you use these to paint or draw? Where does dye come from?

Gather dry leaves from below a tree, and green leaves from the tree in full bloom. How do they differ? Draw each in different ways: use the side of a piece of charcoal or graphite to draw the inside of the leaf, or just the texture. Use the point of the charcoal to draw or trace the outline, and the veining pattern. What do you notice? Use brown pencils to fill in the colours of the dead leaf, and greens for the living leaf. How many hues of each can you observe? 

Use coloured pencils to colour in the shade below a tree. How many colours can you find in a shadow?

Choose something in the landscape to observe, for example pick up a stone and draw it without taking your eyes off the stone, without looking at your paper. The drawing with may not ‘look’ like the stone, but it represents your seeing of the stone, and challenges you to see the stone with more focus that you might normally have. Explore ways that you can feel that stone in your body more fully while you are looking at it, and see how that affects what is drawn on the paper, still drawing without looking at the paper.

Pick a spot you walk or drive through often. Ttop there at least once a week and make a drawing. Note the new things you notice. Maybe try to add at least one new thing to your drawing each week, or else draw the same thing each time, but at different times of day. There is always more that can be revealed about a place…always. This can remind us that the same principle applies to the people around us, ecosystems, and communities.

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