On a cloudy Saturday afternoon, I’m out in Tranquille, along the trail to Pine Park, with field journal students. In between side-stepping the ever-changing pattern of water seeping from broken irrigation pipes, four exercises lead us into this place.
In middle September, the first scattering of brown leaves lie beneath a canopy of still cottonwood green. As the next step into place, we make a sound tapestry, doing our best to translate the sounds we hear into images in our field journals.
The next step is an illuminated contour drawing. When I tell workshop participants, the point of this exercise is to draw an object WITHOUT looking at the page, I get some raised eyebrows, but it takes only a few minutes for our group to fall into sustained concentration.
And then, before we have to pack up and go, we use our used CD cases and erasable pens to trace the landscape surrounding the beaver pond. Once our tracings help us find the relative size, location and proportion of the landscape elements, we transfer our drawings into our field journals and use our water brushes and water-colour sets to finish our landscape drawings.
Together, the four exercises fill a double page-spread. All too soon, it’s time to pack up and return down the Pine Park trail. Driving away, I’m grateful for the good company that brought me out today.