Day 9. Delight: NATURE!
How drawers see the natural world.
Hello my GUT peeps.
We are nearing the half way point of our week of delights. Yesterday’s food delight drawings were bananas! From chocolate milk, to spam, to ramen, to coffee, to waffles, to the reliable potato, everyone clearly finds A LOT of joy in eating food, and in drawing it. Day 8 was an artistic, gastronomic delight.
Heads up for tomorrow: we will do something VERY differently delightful tomorrow, and you will need TWO COLORS. ideally two colored pencils or two different colored pens. A pencil and a ballpoint will work in a pinch. You’re not going to want to miss it.
But let’s focus on Day 9. Who else is feeling FINE. Today we’re opening our eyes wide, and looking closely inside and out for….
Today we are looking for delight in the NATURAL WORLD.
To such an extent does nature delight and abound in variety that among her trees there is not one plant to be found which is exactly like another; and not only among the plants, but among the boughs, the leaves and the fruits, you will not find one which is exactly similar to another.
-Leonardo da Vinci
I love this quote from our old pal Leonardo. It speaks directly to what we are doing this week here in the GUT’s 30-Day Drawing Habit. When you look closely at a plant, a fruit or vegetable, a flower or a tree, or even a single leaf, you will never find two of the same. There is a whole world inside every living thing. But we really have to slow down, pay attention and LOOK CLOSELY to notice these details and appreciate all there is to see.
There are as many ways to draw the natural world as there are natural objects. From contour drawings, to nature journaling, to colorful painterly drawing, to quick sketches… I’ve selected a few of my favorites to inspire your drawing today.
Jack Muir Laws
If you’ve been at the Grown-Ups Table for a while, you know what a huge fan I am of Nature Journaling with Jack Muir Laws. Jack is the leading voice in the field, and we have so much to learn from him about the practice.
Connecting more deeply with nature by keeping a nature journal brings us a sense of peace and it inspires us to protect this wonderful world around us.
- Jack Muir Laws
A few months ago, the GUT had the delight of having Jack as a GUT visiting artist. I asked him some questions about his practice and he shared a boatload of wisdom. Here’s some of what he shared on the practice of nature journaling that might be helpful and inspiring to you.
What’s the 101 of nature journaling?
“What does nature journaling look like? I might sit down in the shade next to a flower. I would draw it in my journal, add written notes about my observations, ask questions and wonder about things I have never noticed before, and see if this flower reminds me of anything in my past experience. I like to use three simple prompts–“I notice…”, “I wonder….”, and “it reminds me of….”--as guides to help me dig deeper into the experience.
In that moment, I am not worried about making a pretty picture or how my words are spelled. I am looking for opportunities to get curious, notice more, and connect more deeply with this flower in this place on this day.
Many people believe that the ability to draw is a gift...and if you aren't already good at it, you can't get good at it. But it turns out that drawing is not a gift--it is a skill. You can learn to draw, and the only thing standing between you and the ability to draw better is practice. Believing you can improve with practice is part of a growth mindset. A pretty page is not the goal of nature journaling, but if you give yourself permission to make lots of pictures, your drawings will improve over time. As I like to say: You just have to put in the “pencil miles.”
Take a look at the GUT dispatch we did earlier on nature journaling with Jack Muir Laws to learn more about him and the practice, and check out his books and workshops on his website as well!
Paul Wackers is one of my favorite living painters. He paints a lot of plants. Flowers, hanging ferns, ficuses, succulents. He focuses on their shape and color and plays wildly with composition. He is definitely not interested in “getting it right” but instead creating a playful experience inspired by plants and objects. Below are a couple of his paintings, and a photo of his nature-filled studio which serves as inspiration for his colorful and playful work. Truly delightful.
Ellsworth Kelly’s simple, gorgeous pencil contour drawings of plants are a HUGE inspiration for me personally (can you tell?) He draws some of them in just a minute or two, with the most complex taking less than half an hour. (ATTENTION ARTISTS: do not let this intimate you! The longer you draw, the more confident you become. The more confident you become, the more solid your strokes. It’s all about practice.)
Kelly pays such close attention to the details that he goes beyond capturing the flower, leaf or fruit, and captures the feeling of it. Who knew such a simple outline could be filled with such feeling?? You can really feel his delight.
What is a contour drawing, you ask? It’s a drawing that focuses on the edges of its subject. You can try drawing one today if you want. Just draw the outline!
As always, I show you these not to intimidate or instruct but to inspire. There are so many ways to draw a plant or a tree or an animal or an apply. Approach it with freedom and, as Julia Child instructed us yesterday, with “Je m’en foutisme”, or “I don’t care what happens.”
No rules in art! You do you. No such thing as perfect. Do it with love! Learn by doing! Make mistakes! Fail Bravely!
So without further ado, let’s dive into today’s Delight: