This is our second set of weekly drawing challenges for October’s Big Draw, which this year is the Big Green Draw #ClimateOfChange. See what else we’re doing for the Big Green Draw here.
WE ARE NATURE!
The word ‘nature’ has a few meanings, but we mean the biosphere, everything that allows life to flourish on Earth. The biosphere is no longer working well as it has been harmed by farming, clear-cutting of forests, the growth of roads and cities, and the use of fossil fuels. However, there is still a lot of nature to love and protect and we think that making art is a really important way to love and protect it. If ‘we are nature’ then maybe all art is about nature! But some artists are really dedicated not just to loving and protecting nature, but also to restoring it. Could you be an ecological artist? Read on for some inspiring artists, drawing challenges and further resources.
James is a member of our team, an artist who works with people and places, who believes in the urgent need to develop new ways of seeing and being with the world. He spends a lot of time walking and exploring with all his senses, and creating art with a mix of what he has found, seen, thought and felt.
Harriet and Rob Fraser
Together Harriet and Rob are working on a big project called Sense of Here, responding to their chosen home place of the Lake District in artful ways using walking, words, photography and more. They are working with schools in Cumbria, and are running a young people’s assembly, as they want to help young people connect better to nature.
Jackie is a children’s book author and illustrator. With Robert MacFarlane she created The Lost Words, a book (and much more) that aims to seed a love of words for natural things. Words such as bluebell, heron and acorn were being lost. Children didn’t know or speak these words anymore, so together they created this big book and have made it available in schools and libraries across the UK. Her paintings are illustrative, so she does observe and represent what she sees but in a magical and personal way.
Patternity is a design studio using patterns to connect us to nature and the bigger picture. As well as their design work, they run activities with groups. Their research archive of images shows similarities between patterns in human bodies and the rest of the living world.
Autumn is mushroom season and if you go for a walk in the woods you might think fungi are doing well. However, the planet’s problems are affecting fungi species, as well as plants and animals. Fungi get their energy by breaking down organic matter, such as wood, to get at some of the nutrients. The decay it causes can be helpful, creating soil, for example. It can be tricky if it’s in the wrong place – such as mould on our food!
Design a product inspired by mushrooms. Find images of, or actual, mushrooms. Look at all their parts and find out how they grow and spread. Can you use what you’ve learned to reinvent a product? A mushroom-inspired umbrella? A bird feeder? A lamp? A heater? It’s up to you. Make lots of quick drawings of what you discover and invent.
A seed is a baby plant protected and nourished by some kind of coating. When seeds are planted, they germinate and grow into seedlings and then mature plants
Make drawings of different kinds of seeds. Collect them when you are cooking, gardening or going for walks. Use a magnifying glass to look closely. To make your drawings, you could choose materials to suit each seed. If it’s a fuzzy seed, you might use charcoal or pastels. If it’s a conker, what media is best to show its colour and shine?
You could also try planting a seed and making drawings as it grows.
When we think of nature, we usually think of species of animals or plants. But what about the water, gases and nutrients that connect and feed all these living things? Environments are harmed when that healthy flow is disrupted, when rivers are dammed or dry up, or when plants get too much CO2 and not enough oxygen, or when too much fertiliser is put on soil. Flow is important!
Look at the images collected by Patternity, and then go and explore to see if you can find examples of flow patterns in nature. Look at where water has been, at clouds, at the shapes of trees. What flow can you see on your own body e.g. in your veins or hair?
Now make some drawings of flow patterns. Try not to draw outlines that define objects you see, only make marks to show the flow patterns. You could use crayons, charcoal or pastels on their sides to make broad marks, or paint with a big brush.
If you’re tracing flow in your own body, you could use face paint on your skin! (Don’t use permanent markers please!)
Here are two helpful words, which inspire ecological art and design:
- Biophilia – love of nature, the idea that all humans love nature because we evolved closely with other living beings
- Biomimicry – imitating the structures and functions of other living beings, especially plants.
You might find art inspiration in our series of Acts of Tree Kindness, for example these prompts on ‘creative noticing’
Discover more about Beatrix Potter’s illustrations of fungi
The Promise is a new film based on the children’s picture book by Nicola Davies and Laura Carlin. The book is about planting trees to heal the planet. It launches on October 16th and there will be screenings and activities to support families to take action to make our neighbourhoods greener.
Some more inspiration on our Pinterest boards
We don’t think there should be one Climate Museum – ours – but thousands in homes, schools or libraries everywhere. We can learn a huge amount about the Earth’s troubles and how to solve them, if we explore human-made or natural objects and if we make art to express feelings and solutions. Our big challenge this month is that you create your own Climate Museum of all the art you make and objects you collect. Take photos of them in a display, and share photos with #MyClimateMuseum
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