John Busby in Drawing Birds, 2014, said ‘To copy from nature without resolving our own thoughts is a barren process’. I copied from nature for many years and when I applied for the John Busby bursary, I had stopped painting altogether and had pretty much given up on my art. I knew the barrenness John had spoken off and it was not a nice place to be. I was desperately looking for an answer because nature and art were something I had once loved.
I came to the course expectant to receive the answer I needed and I was not disappointed. I was greeted with a warm, friendly atmosphere and a group of tutors and students willing to share, encourage and inspire. I couldn’t help but be affected by the infectious enthusiasm and passion for wildlife and painting outdoors. This sparked in me a new desire to draw and paint nature, not solely focusing on a finished painting but learning to enjoy and embrace the process of seeing, understanding and mark making. I feel I have still much to learn but the course has helped me see that this process is full of rich experiences with much value and rewards.
One of the most special things about the course was drawing as a large group of artists for an extended period of time. I don’t think I could have grasped the importance of field drawing on my own however this week has taught me stamina and determination and has shown me the importance of sitting in gales, rain or sunshine so that I can bring a fullness of experience and knowledge to the page. During this week I have learned to love drawing in the open air but more than that I know it is the way forward to engage with my art again.
The process of learning to see was also a revelation to me. Although I’ve painted for over 20 years, being in the field presented me with challenges and difficulties that working from photographs in a comfortable studio did not. One of my most valuable lessons was the practical task of trying to capture form using cool and warm tones. This really challenged my seeing, thinking and indeed my relationship with colour and mark making. I know it will be something I will continue to wrestle with in my practice for many years to come. It also helped me recognise the need to better understand the anatomy of birds hence I plan to do further study and develop my understanding and knowledge in this area.
The amazing thing about this course was that I started having totally lost my way in my art but left with enthusiasm, motivation, excitement, a longing to learn more and a burning desire to work in the open air. It has given me direction and purpose and for that I am so grateful. Thank you for the opportunity to be part of the wonderful legacy of John Busby!