The "Art" of Teaching
I am of the belief that everyone is capable of producing a good sketch or drawing if they just learn a few basic skills and are willing to devote a small amount of time to practice. Nature is the perfect subject, and in many parts of the world, sketching from nature is a staple of a good education, as respected a subject as math or language. Of course you don't have to be able to draw to keep a nature journal, but I think it adds to the enjoyment of the student and makes a sketchbook much more pleasing if you can produce an accurate account of what has been witnessed in nature. Working from a photograph is not the same as working from life. You need to get out there, feel the wind, hear the birds sing, or bring the "out there" inside. I've been keeping nature journals for many years so I'm sharing some pics from older sketchbooks this time. They have brought me enormous joy, educated me, and jogged my memory making them the most important work I've ever done.
I had the pleasure this week of teaching the first session of a three part workshop on keeping a nature journal. When I asked my students what they were hoping to get out of the workshop, responses varied from getting closer to nature, God and spirituality. Every religion agrees we are deeply connected to the earth, yet many of us have forgotten, becoming so wrapped up in technology and the busyness of daily life. This is now called, Nature Deficit Disorder. a problem for children and adults alike. My goal is getting people to remember the joys of spending time outside and recording those feelings. By drawing, you focus and use all your senses, really experiencing the moment at hand. The connection to nature is palpable if you just step outside.
"Enlightenment" a Zen Master has said, "is simply this: When I walk, I walk. When I eat, I eat. When I sleep, I sleep."