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HomeacornsNature Trails 2014 – A Natural Sketchbook Exchange

Nature Trails 2014 – A Natural Sketchbook Exchange

 Mighty Oaks from Little Acorns Grow

A few months ago, a small group of artist friends got together and decided to organise a sketchbook exchange. The idea was simple- we would each buy the same sketchbook, draw or paint in it, and then post it on to the next person. Each sketchbook would travel from artist to artist until at last it returns to it’s owner, filled with sketches and drawings. The criteria was simply that the sketches were to be based on nature.
We decided to use Stillman and Birn zeta sketchbook , undoubtedly the best sketchbook on the market. The paper is really good quality- heavy enough to withstand washes (270gsm) and wonderfully smooth and white.  The pages lie flat so that you can do double spreads with ease- there’s nothing worse than trying to draw whilst trying to keep an uncooperative sketchbook open!  The project almost fell at the first hurdle when we discovered that the sketchbooks were sold out! Luckily Stillman and Birn came to the rescue and on hearing of our plight, flew a special delivery of sketchbooks to their UK supplier.  
Draw everywhere and all the time. An artist is a sketchbook with a person attached.” 
Irwin Greenberg

My sketchbook arrived, sleek, clean and full of promise. I had so many other things to do at the time, but those beautiful white pages kept tempting me. Ever since this project was conceived, I have had the phrase “Mighty Oaks from Little Acorns Grow” in my head and I really wanted to include that somewhere in my sketchbook.
I decided that I’d also like to do something on the cover of my book in gold leaf. I lost several hours looking at vintage book covers online… so inspiring! I really loved these ones, although they were perhaps a little too ambitious for me.

Beautiful vintage book covers.

In the end, I decided to do a simple golden acorn on the cover.

For the title page I took a previous sketch of an acorn and leaf and modified it.
A sketch from last September
An envelope from Egypt, printed to look like papyrus fitted perfectly as an endpaper. I’ll be writing my address onto that too, just in case the book goes astray. Fingers crossed, none of the sketchbooks will be lost!
The double spread was a bit daunting, perhaps because that first sketch will set the tone for the book. I decided to let nature be my muse and headed out on a beautiful crisp winter morning to a nearby woods. I wasn’t quite sure what I would find, but once you start to look, you begin to notice all the subtle colours of winter, and the tiny signs of new life that are appearing all around.

If one really loves nature, one can find beauty everywhere.
Vincent van Gogh
 I’m going to try and use this project to learn more about the natural world around me. I’m delighted to say that the paper also lived up to my expectations … it didn’t buckle and took the paint very well.

Beech tree buds are quite beautiful up close 

But most of all, I’m feeling very excited to be involved with such a creative and supportive group of people. Their enthusiasm and encouragement is contagious!  It’s wonderful to start the year on such a positive note. Great things lie ahead.

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