Nature Notebook II

For this journal entry, I decided to draw a bullfinch and some more alder twigs. I copied a male bullfinch from an Instagram account @mmerryts and painted him in gouache. I have my aunt’s original typewriter, which I used to create some text about the bird, copied from my Illustrated Book of Birds.

I mixed some alizarin crimson and indigo for some deep purple to paint the alder, and printed off a tiny diagram from the Illustrated Book of Trees, showing the mature catkins and cones. I have done a two-page spread which I think would have worked better if I had crossed the seam, as it looks rather disjointed with the gap of masking tape in the middle:

The little flying bullfinch is cut from a business card as the white rump is such a feature. It’s always difficult to find the balance between junk journal and aesthetically pleasing; I am not yet experienced enough with the medium to always get it to work for me.

I have a video here of me painting the pages.

I saw in my Collins Guide to British Trees that a particular moth – the White-barred Clearwing – feeds on alder wood, and added it in under the catkins. Part of the journal is a chance to record what I have seen, but I also want to include snippets of new information, even if I may not have seen it myself. I love field guides and they are such an investment of knowledge yet it’s tempting to simply use them for visual identification rather than absorbing the deeper understanding that the expert writing the book has shared. So yes, I am that person who reads the introductions and the glossary and the blurb-y bits around the ID pages! It seems a waste otherwise.

This nature notebook is an opportunity to play, and be creative: painting and lettering and cutting and sticking. I don’t particularly like the term and connotations of “mindful” and I am struggling a bit to let go of my own expectations and enjoy the process and the practise with the materials I’m using. It’s also a good discipline to carve out time for a little project which is simply for my own benefit, even though I am sharing it with others.

I listened to the January 22nd podcast from “Ask an Artist” discussing how it’s quite draining to put out one’s creativity and positivity when the circumstances are rather one-sided because of the restrictions. A lot of my work requires output wholly from me and this can feel exposing and disappointing when what I do gets lost in the ether. How do you make yourself heard at the moment? And keep yourself motivated?

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