Sunday, 16 April 2017

Beginning a Nature Journal.

Just before we left for Coral Bay, I enrolled in Jan Blencowe's online Nature Journaling course.

Jan says that Nature Journaling is -
".....designed for those who love the natural world and want to form a connection with nature through art."
That sounds just perfect doesn't it?

She also asks you to -
"Imagine learning ways to fine tune your listening and observational skills so that you can deeply engage with the natural world. Then imagine that you have a repertoire of creative skills that allows you to quickly and easily sketch the beauty in nature, beauty that takes your breath away and fills you with a sense of calm and well being."
Hmmmm.....filled with a sense of calm and well being?  Sounds like bliss to me.

The course actually started a couple of days after we left home (Murphy's Law) so I just took my journal, started by myself and made it up as I went along.

Here are some of my pages -

Mostly I was just learning about my new Daniel Smith colours and trying to observe the sea and sky.

There's only one blue and two greens in the recommended colour palette, so I have a bit of colour experimenting to do.

I always thought there was just 'grass' on the sand dunes.  Nope.  I just didn't look properly.  There are even flowers up there on the dunes.

Don't ask me where this 'insightful insight' came from.  Mother nature probably.

We seemed to cram so much into each day and I tried to sketch a little snapshot of all the activities for one of them.  I didn't end up liking this page much - it's a bit too colourful and 'busy'.

The image on the bottom right is of the dog cemetery situated high on a hill.  This is the view I get at sunrise from our camper.  It's absolutely beautiful with the rising sun behind the little crosses.

This is my favourite sketch.  Such an amazing creature.  We put this jellyfish into a lunchbox of sea water so that I could do a sketch and the poor thing just kept pulsing and blobbing along while it was waiting to be returned to the ocean.  It was soooo creepy, (said with an Alfred Hitchcock voice).

This little frangipani tree was growing in sandy soil right outside the ladies ablution block.  It only had the run off from the drinking water tap to survive on.  The flowers were just as perfect as a well nourished tree in a tropical garden.  Amazing really.

The paper in this journal is just ok.  I wasn't able to get the recommended 'Stillman and Birn' journal so bought what was available locally.  It's mixed media paper which is quite strong but not much chop for water colours as it soaks the paint up straight away.  I tried a little sample of paper from a cheap watercolour pad I found....but that was worse!   

Both my thumbs were out of action for the first part of our holiday.  One got jammed in the shade sail that comes off the side of the car and the other was bitten by a crab while I was investigating an 'uninhabited' (!) clam shell.  Nothing compares however to being bitten by a 100 year old renegade turtle!

Now that we're back home, I'm looking forward to getting stuck into the Nature Journaling course properly.  So that means lots more time outside in the garden.  Sitting down too.  Goody.

Thursday, 13 April 2017

Coral Bay 2017

Each year we head off to Coral Bay on the Ningaloo Reef for our annual camping holiday.  We've been going there since our girls were small, so maybe a bit more than 20 years I guess?  Over the years our trips have become less jam packed with tours, boat trips, late nights, hangovers and noise and have slowly been filled with early mornings, peaceful days and a gentler more observant approach to nature.  It seems that we are becoming more in tune with our environment and our time there has deepened our appreciation of the beautiful, peaceful and pristine coastline. 

Here's a snapshot of a typical day......

Kayaking and paddle boarding as the dawn breaks on a new day.


Kayaking over to the reef shark nursery for a look.  Now I know what a 'shag on a rock' looks like!

Setting up for the day at Five Fingers Reef.

.........and the front view.  This is all precisely measured and takes some practice.  It involves lots of pacing out, experts in reversing and a carefully measured and well looked after piece of string.

"Don't look at me and I won't look at you."
Legs like lamp posts (I know how that feels).

Fading light is an indication that 'happy hour' is well underway.

........and the breathtaking sunset closes another amazing day.

I also kept a bit of a sketch journal while away so will upload some of those pages when I get a chance.....I'm still knee deep in sand and washing here.