Recording A Gardening Year

How to start this brand new, sun shining, bird singing year?
My simple resolution.. “do more and do it better”, so, without delay, let’s get going!

On 5th March this year I will be starting a year long monthly workshop at Barnesdale Gardens. It’s called:
“The Illustrated Garden Journal” :

Barnesdale Gardens Workshops

In these workshops we will look at many different ways of recording what goes on.. or doesn’t.. in the garden, who might be visiting, friend and foe alike and how the seasons ebb and flow.
The scope is enormous and there are more ways of recording the garden than you can shake a bamboo cane at. The very first class will be about getting started, for me the MOST difficult part of any job. So today I thought I would set an excellent example by making

Garden Record No 1.
I may try to do one a day..for a while anyway.
So where to start?
Well I am sitting in my studio ..not for long as The Foot has still has to be “up”… and I am looking out on my very neglected Garden. I just ran out of time to clear, tidy, mulch and replant so here it is, withered stalks, skeleton flower heads, piles of leaves and many many opportunist weeds. In my defence I did want to leave things that might be useful to bug, bird or beast to the very last minute, but it is looking just a bit sad.
So not instantly inspiring, but bang opposite my window is the old wicker bean support in the raised bed, complete with the remains of twisty bean stems and the odd black shrivelled pod.
For the small birds it’s a stop off point on the way from the hedge to the bird table. They pause and peck about in the weedy ground and twitter at each other.
Today 3 hedge sparrows landed as I was looking out, so that’s what I decided to draw. The birds in this garden give me so much pleasure and it seems a good place to start.
There have to be rules for these ‘records’. They have to be quick, unfussy and must not be the be-all and end-all of the day as I am busy with other things. Half an hour MAX!


No 1 Garden Record
Jan 1st 2013

Hopefully they will build up into an interesting garden record and by March 5th I will have quite a few to show my workshop group. Now let me see…one-a-day from today is 64…let’s make it a round 60.
So 60 records by March 5th is my goal. Not necessarily sketches. It might be that I find a thing or make a print, press a beautiful leaf, record some pattern or a beautiful colour. Just one other rule: no photos.
I won’t be posting the records every day.. just once a week I think.

A Little Extra Encouragement
I hope my Easton painters might also join in this endeavour if they happen to be reading and for a little extra help I would recommend joining Paul Foxton’s  Learning to See “Daily Practice” challenge which started today and runs for the month. Paul has an excellent art blog which I have followed for a few years now.
Sometimes it’s nice to be part of something else and to share ideas, problems and of course triumphs.
It helps turn those good resolutions into realities!

NB** Update… This particular forum is now full.. but Paul tells me there will be more, so sign up anyway for future opportunities and enjoy his site and all the info he has to offer.

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  1. a weekly roundup of your garden, will make appealing reading. Happy New Year!

  2. How weird that you have started this and I didn't even know. My NY resolution is a Wild Garden Wildlife 365 Challenge. To record (in photos for me, rather than pencils/paint) 365 native uk species in my garden in 365 days. I've started up my blog again here Good luck Val on your recording and great to hear you are getting around a bit more now 🙂 xx

  3. Thanks to you both for your encouragement!
    Diana: Many thanks, I hope it will be
    interesting in lots of way. Mostly in my ability to keep going over a year.
    Jane ..Great minds 🙂

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