The Art of Nature

Emma O.

This weeks blog post was written by Emma O., a Drummers Alumni! She describes the things she took away from her time in the Drummers WLA camp. Most notably, a passion for depicting nature in art.

This past summer, I attended the Wildlife Leadership Academy’s Drummers Field School, where I learned a plethora of valuable information about the ruffed grouse, forest ecosystems, conservation issues, and how to improve my leadership skills. However, one of the main things that I took away from the camp is surprising–a newfound appreciation of how art can intertwine with a love for the environment.

A sketch drawn lightly in pencil. It shows a house, a road, and some trees in the distance.
Here is one of the sketches that I created in my art class at school.

At the camp, we completed nature journals that we filled with notes about the natural world, poems, and artwork as we sat outside for a set amount of time each day. It was a wonderful way to decompress from the busy days, as well as to improve our observation skills. Personally, I enjoyed creating nature sketches in my journal the best. Upon coming home from the Drummers Field School and going back to school this fall, I found myself continually incorporating one of my passions, environmental studies, with art.

I am in a Drawing and Painting course at school, where we’ve actually had the opportunity to go outside and complete brief, plein air nature sketches. Every student spread out around the school grounds, picked a spot where they felt comfortable, and kept their eyes peeled for a leaf positioned just so, or a dandelion opening its petals in an artistic fashion. Personally, I drew four sketches–one of a dandelion, one of a natural landscape, one of a tree branch growing in front of a building wall, and another of the branch of a coniferous tree.

A sketch of a tree branch with pine needles on it. The bark texture is also sketched. There is a grid over the whole thing
This is the sketch of the coniferous branch that I drew. You can see the grid that I drew over it!

After completing our sketches, we were told to pick the one we liked best and turn it into a full-scale painting! In order to do this, we had to draw a grid with even measurements over our sketch (I chose the coniferous branch drawing). Then, on a much larger piece of paper, we drew the same grid, just on a larger scale (for example, in our sketchbooks, each square could have been 1”x 1”. Then, on the larger piece of paper, it could be 4”x 4”). Then, we redrew our sketches on the large piece of paper by looking at what was drawn in each square on our original sketch and redrawing it, square by square.

This is my final painting! After using the grid method to recreate my sketch, I used watercolors and colored pencils to create this piece.

Using this technique, it is possible to almost perfectly recreate a drawing on a larger scale. Then, we moved on to painting. I used watercolor paints to paint in an abstract background of different branches to frame the main branch. I actually used colored pencils to color in the main branch to give it a defined, focused effect. It was so fun to see how my knowledge of nature sketching from the Wildlife Leadership Academy’s Drummers Field School tied in with my art project at school. Combined, they have given me the opportunity to advance my interests in both environmental science and art!