Sketchbooks and mark making in nature

We’ve had a great relationship with schools in the Dumfries and Galloway area of Scotland in the past year. 4 x 1 day workshops have taken place to inspire and engage young people in the area to challenge their techniques and processes and to think more about experimentation in their work. We also did a day workshop assisting students with the creation of their digital portfolios in preparation for their art college application.

Last week we journeyed down to Newton Stewart to take part in a residential in conjunction with the Outdoor Education Service in Dumfries and Galloway Council. 13 art and design students spent 3 nights down at Stronord Centre where they had time to focus fully on their art before commencing on their final 6th year at school after the summer holidays. Some of these students will be applying for art college, which was why we were invited to deliver a workshop.

We led a workshop on the Thursday evening that was an introduction to using sketchbooks also some new artists that might inspire students to work in a different way than usual. We followed our eCourse on Sketchbook Development that takes students through using the design/creative process. This preparatory evening was great as there was time until the following morning for some of the artists we’d looked at and ideas they had explored to sink in. If you’re interested to find out more about what the Sketchbook Development eCourse covers and how it can help you get into art college, please click on the image below.

art sketchbook ideas

Later that evening the Education Officer for Outdoor Learning, Keith Walker, demonstrated and engaged the students in making their own charcoal to use the following day — how cool is that! I missed this due to being a lightweight and needing to get a decent night’s sleep — I have to say that lights out was at 2am, I am well past that!!

Below is a video that shows you how to make your own charcoal.

We used wood from an Alder tree — to identify the Alder tree — here’s a photo below of the leaves.

Alder - making drawing charcoal

So, our workshop went well. We went out into the woods and surrounding environment to work from the following day, after a session on mark making and alternative ways of drawing. This, I have to say, was after we’d spoken about working directly in the environment, not from cameras on the students phones etc. Please read our blog on this, it’s VERY IMPORTANT!

I left the students at this point after an evening and the day. The following day was run by artist Katharine Wheeler who took the students out, armed with their newly acquired mark making and experimental skills to produce more focused work from the natural environment. We’ll update this post with some input from Katherine soon.

I have to say it’s a long time since I was in an residential outdoor centre — but the food was good — and a long time since I’ve had sponge pudding and custard!

Again, many thanks to the Funders that supported this residential workshop to enable us to participate — Archie Sutter Watt Trust and Upland. This meant that the students only had to pay a very small contribution towards what was a very important experience for them.


Originally published at Portfolio OOMPH.