Saturday Art Challenge

29.08.2020

Paint Splodge Art!

Hello,

Welcome to the final Art Challenge of this blog. I hope that you have enjoyed the various activities that we have explored since March when this blog started.

Just for fun as a final challenge I thought it might be nice to end having fun with paint splurges, or happy accidents with a paint brush. I created these flowers following working on the pigeon painting last week, they were made using surplus paint and seeing what patterns could be formed with the paintbrush. They formed really nice flower patterns:

Your Task: To look at the photographs below and have a go at creating your own patterns and paint splurge art. Look at the way that the flowers, foliage and blackberries are made up of circles and symmetrical shapes. See if you can copy them with your paint brush.

Once you get started get creative. See if you can make repeating patterns to form a picture. Try adding two colours to the paint brush at once to see what effects you can create.

Have fun! And thanks for all the support with this blog. Don’t forget if you would still like to be involved with eco-writing you can email me at e.mckenzie1@yorksj.ac.uk to be added to the mailing list for future ideas and projects.

Keep up the creativity.

Best wishes,

Emma

Friday’s Letters

28.08.2020

A final word…

Dear Readers,

This is the final Friday’s Letters for this blog. I thought I would finish these letters by showing you some lovely photographs of the walk I had with one of the lovely members of my local class.

This blog is ending this week so that I am able to prepare to re-start the class in person as of October. It’s been an absolute pleasure to reach out to people through creative writing and art during COVID and I hope that everyone continues to create writing and art linked to nature as a result. If anyone is interested in staying involved either from a distance or in person you can reach me at e.mckenzie1@yorksj.ac.uk

There is one final art challenge tomorrow! I hope that you like it!

I hope you enjoyed these photos of a walk around York University campus lakes. If you are in the area I would really recommend it.

Take care.
Best wishes,

Emma

Connect to Nature Creative Writing Class

26.08.2020

Glinting and Glimmering Minnows – A day on the lakes and rivers.

Hello everyone,

This is the very last creative writing class for the blog. This week’s theme is inspired by taking a walk around The University of York Lake last week with one of my class members and looking at all the beautiful wildlife. I have also been spending time walking along the river banks in York and visiting the park lake near my home. I wrote this class whilst thinking about the possibility of starting to bring my group back together in person which feels very very exciting! For all those who usually attend Kathy and I will be in touch to catch you up on plans.

For anyone reading this outside of York, please do email me to let me know if you would like me to email you with any future opportunities for Connect to Nature Writing. You can reach me at e.mckenzie1@yorksj.ac.uk

So here goes!

Task 1: (5 mins) Speckled with Sparkles! Foamy, frothy bubbles glinting at the edge of the water! My little girl and I had fun playing with alliteration and making up words to describe a little shoal of minnows that we saw in the park lake.

Your task is to think about a little shoal of minnows glinting in shallow water. Describe their movements in ten words.

Task 2: (5 mins) Gliding Gracefully! Whilst on my walk at the University Lake I was very lucky to see swans nesting. The contrast of the white swan feathers agains the water looked stunning and created a beautiful contrast to the grey /blue water. Can you find words to use describe a beautiful swan. Set a timer for one minute and see how many you can come up with. When you have done this use them in a paragraph of writing to describe what you imagine in your minds eye. (Even better, if you can get out to see a swan – describe their movements as you watch them).

Task 3: (10 mins) Dragonflies. I was told a legend once about the dragonfly. It described us as humans like dragonfly larvae. If you told a larvae at the bottom of a pond that he would one day break through the surface and have beautiful shimmering wings he would never believe it. The folklore states that when we leave this life we are like a dragonfly emerging from the pond. With this in mind imagine that you are a dragonfly hatching. You take your first flight around the waters. After spending the first part of your life in a muddy pond how does it feel? (It’s good to remind ourselves that we are describing our environment that we already have when we write this task and it helps remind us how lucky we are with this beautiful world that we live in).

Task 4: (5 mins) Ducks and ducklings…..It’s been nice watching the Mummy ducks with their little broods of baby ducklings over summer. All adults show their young how to get along in the world. Write a letter to the generation being born today. Tell them about their world, help them to see the beauty in nature and the gift that they have been born into.

Or…write about a day in the life of a duckling! You can make it as fun or as serious as you like. Where do you live, do what do you look forward to, where do you nest?

If you have enjoyed this session look out for Friday’s letters – I will show you more pictures of my lovely walk.

With best wishes,
Emma

Monday’s Poem

25.08.2020

Making your own poetry

Over recent weeks this blog has brought many different poems and imagery.

As a final poetry post I thought it would be nice to help you make some poems of your own. To make it easier let’s try to stick to 10 lines and see what happens from there.

Review writing that you have made over recent weeks.

Pull out lines and words that stand out to you.

See if you can create a collage with words bringing together some of the different themes.

Try reading your line out loud, cross out any words or lines that you don’t like and add in new words that help connect sentences.

If you haven’t done much creative writing yet, or have just discovered this blog try cutting up a magazine article about the natural world. See what lines, words and images stand out to you.

I hope that you have fun! Do send me your results! We will be playing with words in this week’s creative writing class.

Best wishes
Emma

Saturday Art Challenge

22.08.2020

Simplified shapes and colours!

Hello everyone!

I apologise, it’s another pigeon post! But as promised yesterday this is the last pigeon related post for now and we will move on to new things next week for our final blog posts.

Following our little interactions with pigeons this week I decided to have a go at a little water colour painting of the racing pigeon we found. I have to admit that I’m out of practice with water colours but I really enjoyed messing about and creating this little caricature of our pigeon friend. Hopefully I captured his quirky little personality!

The thing I love most about pigeon’s is the complimentary colours of their feathers and the contrasting eye colours. I thought I might have a go at trying to make a more simplified version using the basic shapes of his body and using the vivid colour palette that the pigeon presented to me.

The funny thing was that my little pigeon seemed to get a bit rounder and fatter with each painting! I thought this added to the charm! Perhaps it would make a nice textile design or a print for a cushion?

Task: Your challenge is to choose something simple in nature such as a flower or a leaf and have a go at making simplified shapes with strong colours inspired by what you see. Try to reduce your drawing down to the basic shapes and lines. It’s really quite fun once you get started.

Have fun! See you next week for the final blog posts! Please let me know if you have enjoyed this blog during lock down. I am happy to add you to a mailing list for any further interesting events and activities.

With kind regards,
Emma

Friday’s Letters

21.08.2020

Perfect Pigeons!

Hello Folks!
Ok, so sorry to anyone that is not a fan of pigeons! This week, I admit, I have become a little obsessed! After finding and helping the racing pigeon, then writing this week’s Creative Writing Class on the theme of pigeons, I was gardening in my allotment and found this beautiful wood pigeon nesting right in my cherry tree! She looked so beautiful hidden amongst the branches.

Jane wrote to me and sent this beautiful picture of pigeon’s sunning themselves in her local area, and Jane had also completed task 3 from this week’s class, which I have included below along with her writing.

Response to task 3: A reminder of the task – which was to look at the pigeon below (which for anyone that wants to know is a Nicobar Pigeon), and to write about it inventing a new name and habitat – Jane’s brilliant response is below the photograph.

In my imagination, this is the Glowing Emerald Fire Bird, a pigeon of myth and legend. This pigeon lives in a nest on the highest treetop of the forest, and glows in the dark like a beacon, illuminating the forest floor and keeping the other birds and small animals of the forest safe from danger. The Fire Bird glows brightly, and is protected and cherished by all the other creatures who bring little offerings of food for the bird to eat. The animals bring berries, and place them at the base of the tree. The birds of the forest then fly up holding the berries in their beaks, placing them by the side of the nest for the pigeon to eat. It is said that the nest of the Glowing Emerald Fire Bird is built by the other birds, with help from the animals who gather twigs and vegetation. They all wish to attract one of these beautiful pigeons to come and live in their area of the forest.

Tomorrow’s art challenge will also follow the pigeon theme!! Then I promise a change for our final week of the blog. Someone once said to me that being inquisitive one of the most brilliant attributes to have. It means that it doesn’t take much to spark of a whole line of activity and that you will never be bored! This has certainly proved to be true this week.

See you tomorrow for the art challenge.

With best wishes,
Emma

Connect to Nature Creative Writing

19.08.2020

Pigeons!

Hello everyone!

Welcome to another creative writing class. This week I have been inspired by a lovely little racing pigeon that sat on my doorstep for a morning before we took pity on him and took him in for food and water. We tried to let him go at lunch time but he hopped back inside the crate we had found for him (we have three cats so it was important to keep him safe).

By tea time he was pecking at the crate and eager to go, so we took him outside (secured the cats inside) and off he flew into the sunset! Job well done we thought!……

The next morning I opened the front door at 9am only to find Mr Pigeon sat right back on the doorstep! He obviously thought he was onto a good thing and spent the day peering in the kitchen window. Needless to say he eventually went on his way and hopefully has now returned home.

Often at St Nicks when we are walking around the reserve we look out for birds. You will often hear someone say ‘Oh that’s just another wood pigeon’; having done a bit of research into them, I have totally changed my mind, what a fascinating and beautiful creature a pigeon is! So the following tasks will hopefully inspire you and peak your interest in pigeon’s too!

Did you know that pigeons belong to a family of birds called the  Columbidae. Columbidae include pigeons and doves. There are many different and wonderful species of pigeon. You can find some of them here . I particularly like the ones with ruffled neck feathers!

Pigeons are also highly intelligent. One set of scientists trained some pigeons to distinguish between Claude Monet’s work and Picasso’s paintings!

Task 1: (5 mins) Pigeon feathers: Look at some photographs of pigeons. In ten words describe the colour of their feathers using words that describe objects of the same colour. For example: Pebbles, sunsets, mist etc.

Task 2: (10 mins) Pigeon Meeting! It is said that a pigeon can find it’s way home from 1300 miles away! Imagine that a domestic pigeon is lost on his journey home. He/ she lands at St Nicks and meets a wood pigeon. Write a story describing their interaction!

Or: Imagine the first time that a pigeon soars above a city – what do they see?

Task 3: (5 – 10 mins) I was surprised by the many colourful and varied variety of pigeons around the world. Look at the picture of the pigeon above. Can you invent a name and a habitat for the pigeon? Forget about the actual name. Imagine a fantastical name and world that this pigeon belongs to.

Task 4: (5 mins) Caption Competition! Can you end today’s session by coming up with a funny title or caption for the photo above?

On a final note doves are associated as a symbol of peace in the Christian religion. With this in mind I hope that you have a peaceful and happy week!

With best wishes,

Emma

Monday’s Poem

17.08.2020

Starlings

Starlings
Wheeze and chirp
A cheeky monopoly on the roof tops
Aerials act as stands
For a show of slick feathers
Purple, green and black
Yet
When they fly!
Take form
And behold
The iridescent
Shape shifters
Of our skies

Morning everyone! I wrote this poem for my little book ‘Fractured’ in 2018. I love watching the local birds around my home, even in a terraced house with a yard instead of a garden we get a lot of visitors.

I’m aiming to finish this blog in September, however there is still time to see your work published here if you want to send me any poetry or writing. For my regular class in York I will continue emailing out weekly creative writing tasks (so don’t worry!). If anyone reading this from around the world would also like a weekly email to get nature focused writing tasks please email me at e.mckenzie1@yorksj.ac.uk and I will add you to the mailing list.

Look out this week’s creative writing class. I have a fun story about a racing pigeon!

See you then!
Best wishes,

Emma

All images courtesy of pixabay.

Saturday Art Challenge

15.08.2020

Sketching Horizon Lines

Recently I have been enjoying painting and sketching outdoors.

One nice technique for outdoor art is looking for lines in the landscape horizons and choosing a simple colour palette.

Have a go at choosing three to five main colours to create horizon lines of a natural scene. You might like to add in lighter tones of your colours to help with highlights at the end of your sketch.

Have a go at creating a hillside scene. Finish your drawing adding in silhouette details such as trees and wildlife!

Have fun!

Best wishes,

Emma

Friday’s Letters

14.08.2020

Happy Friday everyone! Hope you have all had a peaceful week. I’ve been really enjoying interactions with butterflies and bees this week. Below are some photos of big fluffy bumble bees which I have noticed out and about, and also of some blackberries which are ripening up nicely.

Meg also sent me this lovely film of a butterfly in her garden (we think it is a Gatekeeper butterfly):

We are hoping to get back on site at St Nicks for October so I will keep you posted with creative writing class plans. In the meantime enjoy these lovely images and look out for tomorrow’s art challenge.

Best wishes,

Emma