Pencil, paper, and the Nature Journal Workshop

by Sheryl White, Coordinator of Visitor Engagement
January 15, 2019

Regina Gardner Milan

Pencil, paper, and the Nature Journal Workshop

Nature Journal Drawing participant Ada Karl

Student participant Ada Karl tries her hand at depicting a scallop shell at a Nature Drawing Workshop with botanical artist Regina Gardner Milan at the Arboretum on January 12.

Last Saturday’s (January 12) frigid temperatures found eight young artists gathering indoors—to explore the outdoors—in a Nature Journal Workshop at the Arnold Arboretum with exhibiting artist Regina Gardner Milan. Participating students ranging in age from 8 to 12 years old encountered tables displaying collections of leaves, acorns, pods, shells, even a rodent skull, along with tools like various-weight pencils and journals. Some students brought their own interests (and even some stunning colored-pencil collections) to complement Regina’s teaching and warm encouragement. Working from the journals, Regina started the workshop with simple leaf rubbings, introducing each boy and girl to shapes, textures, and veins. She then continued to highlight shapes with simple suggestions for drawing: cones as ovals, acorns as ovals and half circles, samara pairs as four ovals of differing size. A brief introduction to the Fibonacci Sequence (mathematical pattern based on the work of an Italian mathematician) initiated further ideas and discussion for adding more definition and dimension to drawings. Regina illustrated how to add to the detail of cones and acorn caps with sequences of arced lines.

Nature Journal Workshop specimens

Some of the natural objects collected for drawing exercises in the workshop.

Following her instruction on shapes and patterns, participants were encouraged to choose from the many natural objects provided. They drew in their new journals—black oak leaves, Chinese mahogany capsules, horseshoe crabs—showing impressive concentration and an amazing ability to absorb what they had learned. Regina closed by emphasizing that a journal is a wonderful way to learn to look at the details of our surroundings. All that is necessary is a pencil, paper, and a willingness to learn, observe, and marvel at nature.

An Artist’s Perspective: The Arboretum and Botanical Artist Regina Gardner Milan, continues its run at the Arnold Arboretum through February 3, 2019.

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