Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Drawing wild birds

I went to the North Lakes in July to participate in a workshop led by John Threlfall, organised by the Field Studies Council at their centre on Blencathra.

John is an outstanding contemporary artist, committed to the drawing and painting of wild creatures on location from direct observation. In his own words he witnesses the natural world through pencil and paint. The books of his paintings are annotated descriptively and poetically, every wild creature painted within its own landscape.

He currently has a solo show exhibiting at the Donald Watson Gallery in Aberlady, near Edinburgh. His work will also be on display at the Society of Wildlife Artists annual show at the Mall Galleries in London in Oct/Nov this year. 

As well as all of that he is a very good teacher.

The workshop took place over 4 days in the most spectacular location of The North Lakes near Keswick. An extended spell of high pressure meant clear skies and warm temperatures all week.

Drawing birds is a challenging thing to attempt. They move, they swim, they hide, they fly away. John stressed the importance of close observation in order to identify characteristic features and gestures, and above all, patience. We all applied ourselves and had a very rewarding and enjoyable week, learning as we sketched.

In four days sketching, I used up a pad of A2 cartridge paper, 4 pencils from tip to stump, trashed a portable chair, ripped the buckle from a bag, and wore out two old shirts.  (Also a fair bit of strong coffee, gin and tonic, and white wine, but that's another story)

A selection of sketches of canada and greylag geese, attempting to capture characteristic gestures and positions (Fiona):

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