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!

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!


Margaret Ann said...

Lovely photos of some very pleased students! Kudos to you! :)

Irene Brady said...

Thanks, Margaret Ann -- we DID have a lot of fun!

Anonymous said...

Hi Irene! I hadn't checked in on your workshops lately, and in doing so today I was rewarded by the beautifully put together posts that are your trademarks. Great photos, student artwork, and descriptions. Inspiring as always.

Your fan,

Anonymous said...

Hi Jocelyn,
Great to hear from you again! I've really stepped up the workshop schedule this year, all autumn and winter I'll be doing 2-day workshops almost every other weekend. I'm having a wonderful time, meeting terrific people and being there for that transcendental moment beginners emerge as artists -- it's a real "high" for me.

I'm also doing slightly more advanced workshops for people with more experience, and those are great sharing times, artist to artist.

I'll always remember the hours we spent drawing in Costa Rica. What a wonderful experience THAT was! Wish you didn't live so far away.


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