The sky is blue, the air is crisp, and the geese are flying overhead. Hmmm. Is there some activity that would help a nature artist make the most of the day?
Thank you to Alice Wych for the first contribution to the 2020 Nature Artists’ Guild Summer’s End paint-out with her lovely drawing, Thistle. While Thistle is certainly worthy of a frame, paint-out creations do not need to be finished pieces of art. Any sketch, drawing, or painting that reflects a few hours spent in nature can be a treasure. Details about participating in the paint-out are in an e-mail sent to members last week.
Nature Artists’ Guild members will be receiving an e-mail soon with the who, what, where, when, why, and how of participating in this month’s Summer’s End paint-out. The paint-out will not be a gathering of members in person, but each participant can celebrate the beauty of nature during the last days of summer by painting, drawing, or sketching on their own and then sharing images of their artwork afterwords.
Members of the Nature Artists’ Guild of The Morton Arboretum can look forward to a full Fall of art and nature!
Some upcoming events include –
A virtual lecture this month about the symbolism of art (much of it nature) portrayed on an 18th Century Asian screen.
A “paint-out” in September where members create art in their own environment and share their experiences through video-chat or by sending images to display on this website.
An online presentation about journaling in nature with Lara Call Gastinger. Lara’s workshop at the Arboretum sold out immediately, but all Nature Artists’ Guild members are invited to join her October 1 presentation.
A new “Art Encounter” in October that will involve working almost solely in ink. Its a great way to quickly hone those drawing skills!
An online exhibit in November of images of some of the finished artwork that members had hoped to include in the cancelled 2020 Spring or Autumn (Holiday) exhibits.
A fun and creative holiday card project in lieu of the annual in-person celebration.
Dates, times, and all the other details about these events will be shared with members through e-mails and announcements on this website.
Stippled Leaf, sketchbook, copyright Lara Gastinger. Used with permission.
Fall sketchbook page, copyright Lara Gastinger. Used with permission
“As a trained plant ecologist, my love of learning and drawing nature is exemplified in my field journals.” – Lara Call Gastinger
Botanical artist and illustrator Lara Call Gastingerwill be sharing some of her inspirations, ideas, and techniques for journaling in nature at the October 1, 2020 Nature Artists’ Guild online program. Lara has received two gold medals at Royal Horticultural Society Botanical Art Shows in London and is the Chief Illustrator for the Flora of Virginia Project.
Please click on this link for a short video that features Lara speaking about some of her travels, discoveries, and inspirations as a “documenter of nature” and her joy in combining the love of both art and science in her work.
Members of the Nature Artists’ Guild will receive an e-mail closer to the program date with specific instructions on how to participate.
Lara will also be teaching a three-session online workshop for The Morton Arboretum beginning on October 2, 2020. During the workshop, Lara will “teach pen illustration techniques, plant identification, page composition, and how to add basic watercolor to your pages. During each live session, students will have the chance to interact with the instructor and each other, asking questions and sharing their work”. Registration for Visiting Artist: Field Journaling with Lara Gastinger opens on September 1, 2020 by phone or though the Arboretum website’s Learn and experience page. Members of the Nature Artists’ Guild can receive a discount for the workshop by registering by phone and confirming their membership.
The final submissions for the Nature Artists’ Guild’s There’s No Place Like Home page have been added. Please click on this link to see the latest contributions. Thank you to all of the artists that have shared their wonderful artwork. More images from this project will be featured in the upcoming Summer issue of the Nature Artists’ Quarterly (a members-only publication).
That’s a wrap! The Nature Artists’ Guild’s 2020 Spring Encounter, There’s No Place Like Home, finished up on April 30, and Guild members did not disappoint. The variety of styles, media, and subject matter reflect the wide range of possibilities for appreciating nature through art. Please check the gallery of images submitted by participating Nature Artists’ Guild members by clicking here. Additional images will be accepted from participants throughout the first week of May.
It’s nearly the last week of the Nature Artists’ Guild’s 2020 Spring Encounter, There’s No Place Like Home. Some of the participating artists have shared images of their wonderful sketches, drawings, and paintings, which can be seen by clicking here. Any other Guild members who would like to share are encouraged to e-mail their images by the first week of May. Images of sketches, finished works, and works in progress are all welcome.
It’s been more than two weeks since the beginning of the 2020 Spring Nature Artists’ Guild “Encounter”, There’s No Place Like Home. So now it’s time to share! Participants in the project are invited to submit up to three images of some of their artwork created over the last two weeks. Depending on the total number received, one, two, or all three of each artist’s images will be shared on this website in an upcoming post.
Some quick tips for photographing sketches –
Lighting – While entire photos can be lightened fairly easily, glare, shadows, or uneven lighting make the process much more difficult.
Color Casts – White or cream paper frequently acquires a blue or yellow tinge when photographed. The temperature or “white balance” setting on most smartphone cameras is fairly easy to use for corrections.
Cropping – Cropping is one of the simplest photo-editing processes and the background behind the artwork in the photo can easily be removed. Making sure the artwork is not skewed is more important than trying to control the background.
Pixels are free (mostly) –The saying, borrowed from photographers, means that there is an advantage in taking multiple shots of the same subject. One of the shots is likely to be better than the others, and unlike in the old film days, it doesn’t cost extra to take more, keep the best, and delete the rest.
Learning to take good photos is becoming increasingly important for today’s artists, and smartphones make the process better and easier then ever. Learning a phone’s settings for photographing and editing is well worth the time spent and photographing sketches is good practice.
The Nature Artists’ Guild is not necessarily looking for perfect photos or even finished artwork in There’s No Place Like Home. It’s about sharing successes and works in progress, quick sketches and finished pieces, and interesting attempts at something new.
Images should be e-mailed to Denise Fisk, whose contact information can be found in the Nature Artists’ Guild’s Yearbook. A one-sentence description of the medium, inspiration, or subject matter may be included with each image, but is not required (and may be edited for brevity). There will also be opportunities for participating members to share their work in the Nature Artists’ Quarterly (a member’s only publication) or at a future meeting of the Guild.
Instructions for the 2020 Spring Encounter for members of the Nature Artists’ Guild, There’s No Place Like Home are simple. Participating members will sketch or create art for fifteen minutes each day for six weeks using whatever art supplies and subject matter they happen to find at home. There is no requirement to stick to nature for subject matter this time (although we suspect many of our artists will.)
Think of the possibilities! Some artists may choose to go with their mood and sketch whatever catches their eye each day. Other artists need a theme or structure to get them moving. Those artists could consider something like –
Choosing a new subject each week. One week could be fruits, another week could be vegetables, the following weeks could be houseplants, birds, or pets.
Choosing a different medium, or a different way of using a medium, each week. There is no need to buy anything new. Watercolors, pencils, pen and ink, and colored pencil are all versatile. Art supplies that haven’t been used in years can be rediscovered.
Choosing a different style each week. Each subject could be drawn or painted realistically, loosely, abstractly, or anything in between. An abstract interpretation of a houseplant could be fascinating, as could a photo-realistic banana, bruises and all.
Working in the style of some of the Masters. A chickadee might be quite interesting in hatchmarks to resemble one of Rembrandt’s etchings or as seen from every angle in Picasso’s Cubist style. How would Henry Moore sketch that chickadee to prepare for sculpting? What colors would Matisse use on his? A bonus to this approach is the time spent researching these artists and all the newly-gained knowledge.
Choosing something out of a bowl. Artists who spend more time trying to choose their subject than they do drawing it might appreciate this approach. Slips of paper with a chosen subject, medium, or style can be prepared ahead of time and put in a bowl. When the time comes for the daily sketching, one of these slips is chosen and the artist can get right to work.
Choosing different adjectives. This approach is similar to choosing a subject, medium or style out of a bowl, but the slips of paper all have adjectives on them. Some examples would be “calm”, “exciting”, “fresh”. What subject or media would convey the feeling of “joyful”? A dictionary or thesaurus will make the preparation much easier.
Journaling the season. At this time of year, the view outside the window will change almost daily. A quick sketch each day of one fascinating observation would result in a wonderful record of the beauty of nature in Spring.
There are probably as many ideas as there are artists, and it will be fascinating and fun to see the results! Guild members should let Jane Kellenberger know if they would like to participate by clicking on the RSVP link of their recent e-mail.