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Guillemot_Contours

Guillimot colony, St.Abbs Head, pastel on paper

In October 2014 I received the SWLA Seabird Drawing Bursary which enabled me to attend the the week long course held in June 2015. The Seabird Drawing Course programme focussed on field drawing at specific bird colonies in North Berwick and the Firth of Forth, Scotland. Activities entailed drawing exercises and talks lead by wildlife artists Kittie Jones, Greg Poole, John Threlfall and Darren Woodhead who all provided excellent guidance and inspiration.

Participating in the course allowed me to try new approaches, develop a new body of work and make connections with people working in similar areas. Since the course I have been enjoying exploring the east coast of fife, looking for new inspiration. I have become more attuned to my surroundings and the birds that inhabit it.

During the course it took me a little while to settle into this new way of field sketching that required looking at bird colonies through binoculars and a telescope, proving difficult at first as it involved a lot of patience and concentration. The image through the telescope revealed subtle nuances of each bird whereby the pattern and colour were much clearer to me than any museum display had been able to offer before. This new approach to drawing proved both a challenging and inspirational endeavour. It highlighted many strengths and weaknesses in my ability as a draughtsman, reigniting my passion for nature and working outdoors.

There was a provocative tension between drawing an accurate depiction of a bird and producing something more expressive. It highlighted for me that field drawing is an important skill to have and a good foundation to build on.

The seabird drawing course proved an invaluable opportunity to work alongside other artists who share a similar passion for drawing and facilitated further sharing of ideas and techniques.

The Bass Rock, Fidra and St.Abbs Head each offered something different in their unique characteristics both in terms of the topography of the landscape and bird colonies that reside there. After many weeks, I am still dreaming of the islands and their birds.

Kittiwakes_circiling_cliffs

St.Abbs Head, pastel on paper