Sketching with Natural Finds

Saturday Art Challenge


Welcome to another Saturday Art Challenge. This week’s art challenge was inspired by thinking about the gnarly branches of the hawthorn tree and natural finds. Last year I found myself on a beach in Scotland. I had my sketch book, a paint brush but….no paints! I had left them at home by accident. Feeling frustrated I decided to paint with what I had. I found some twigs and feathers on the beach and then for fun got the children to help me grinding up pebbles in small dents in the rock we were sitting on to make pigment.

We experimented making marks and finding out which stones created different colours. We also tried dipping feathers in the muddy water and making marks.

Here are some of the results:

Earlier in the year at St Nicks we tried something similar in our art class. This time we used inks instead of ground up rocks! We gathered a variety of natural objects, feathers, sticks, teasels, whatever we could get our hands on. We made marks with the found items and created nature based pictures. The results were remarkable. I had a teasel which when brushed against paper with brown ink made what looked exactly like the bark of a silver birch tree.

So here is your art challenge for this week:

Task: Gather natural objects. This could be twigs, grass, sticks, leaves petals etc. Anything that looks interesting, take particular note of textures. Using either watered down paint, ink or (if you are feeling brave) natural earth or rocks such as charcoal ground into water, make marks on a page with your found objects.

What results do you get? What do you notice? Which do you like to make marks with? Which get the best results?

If you want to go a step further you can also create a ‘living journal’ page. Choose a site of land which you love to visit. Mark some of the earth on your page, press leaves and natural finds such as grass and petals into your book. Note the identifying aspects of the landscape. eg. is the earth dry or wet, is it rocky or grassy etc. If you keep repeating this task at a variety of places you will find you will start to build up lovely contrasts. We had a lot of fun doing this when exploring St Nicks first ever Bearing Fruit Orchard group many years ago.

I hope you had fun doing this. I don’t need many excuses to get muddy and close to nature!

See you on Monday for a beautiful and hopeful poem.

Enjoy your weekend.

Best wishes,

  1. Ooooo – I haven’t got the ones you mention, I will look into them. I’m slowly growing my own nature…

Published by Emma

Hi my name is Emma! I am a writer and artist. I work for the NHS at Converge ( and I am also an MA graduate in Creative writing and am currently studying for a PhD in Humanities. I have been leading a creative writing class at the beautiful St Nicks in York ( for the last five years. When I am not at work I'm on my allotment or at Base Camp (my home) planning new adventures.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: