22 August 2014

Sketchbook snapshots: Fishy business and how to stay outdoors even when school starts

Whew! August has been busy, and most of my sketches have gone directly into the column. Now that the end of the month is upon us, though, I have a few "out takes" to share.

The first week of August featured bees in all their buzzy glory
Click the image to check out that week's blog post,
which includes a couple of bee sketching tips!


The following week took readers swimming through the complexity and importance of eating sustainable seafood.


Though there wasn't room in the column to mention it, the large green fish
was one I sketched at the Quebec City aquarium. The line drawing of a pile of
mackerel was made while out on a fishing trip in early August.

Try sketching fish while they're still moving!

Like many subjects in nature, the more closely you observe the fish, the
more subtle colours you're likely to notice.  These mackerel were a lovely
range of silver, gold, green, blue and rose, though they appear
mostly gray-green and white on first glance.


Friday the 29th, marks the first day back to school for most elementary and secondary students. So, this week's column took a look at ways to go "Back to school, not back inside."



Increasingly, experts recommend concentrating on local ecosystems, wildlife, and conservation issues, rather than teaching first graders about tropical rain forests and the loss of biodiversity in Africa. In fact, it is not until children are in their teens that they have developed the mental capacity to comprehend and cope with abstract and remote ecological topics. 
Focusing on local wildlife makes sense for kids learning about the natural world.
They can better recognize and relate to the things with which they are familiar.

Perhaps predictably, in last week's article I explored a couple of simple-yet-valuable ways that drawing can help engage 'kids' of all ages in the outdoors. 

The first is map making, which can be approached and facilitated in innumerable ways. Here are a couple of my favorite resources:


The second way to connect with the world around you is to keep a field journal in which you record your observations using a combination of sketches and words. Anyone, of any age, can do so. Of course, these methods can be melded together, too - you could certainly make maps in your field journal!

Both are detailed in the article, and you can read considerably more about the importance of outdoor experiences for children PLUS why and how I recommend field journaling on my website: www.commnatural.com. You'll even find a number of foolproof introductory exercises, the same ones I facilitate when leading sketching workshops for total beginners.


**OUTDOOR DRAWING TIP**
Like this drawing student of mine, you could
try tracing the outline of a leaf, to get the basic
shape right. Carefully observe how the veins
connect and where they spread, then draw them
in. Don't worry if you make an inaccurate mark -
think of it as a guide and make another mark
that is more accurate or pleasing to your eye.

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