This week’s lesson on Life Book was all about field journaling. The tutor was Alisa Burke and she demonstrated one approach to painting a field study of found natural items which in her exemplar were feathers.
The exercise transported me back to my High School art class where the teacher would have us make studies of objects he had stowed away in his room for just that very purpose – boxes of pine cones, seed pods and driftwood, gnarly old leather shoes and boots, assorted glass bottles and bleached skulls and other bones were my favourites to draw. Apart from the odd skull, I don’t think I have drawn any of those things in the intervening decades. Still life has apparently just never been my thing. I ought, however, to do it more, these studies of things, in order to hone my observational skills.
The kids are all choked up with rotten colds so a nature ramble was off the cards. Instead I went out into the back garden and gathered up a few things I found lying around: a twig from a tree, a piece of bark, a lump of white quartz, a goose feather, a small and scruffy blue jay feather and – improbably – a mussel shell. And don’t worry: I abided by the law and put the feathers back where I found them after I had painted them.
I am not sure how successful I was with this painting but I enjoyed the process. I am not entirely convinced still life is a great fit for me but I definitely think I will try field journaling again, not just with natural objects but with bits and pieces from around my home just to practice drawing exactly what I see again.