Connect to Nature Creative Writing

12.08.2020

Inspired by Clouds

Hello Everyone!
Hope you are all having a good week and looking forward to getting back to some creative writing activities. After launching this week’s blog posts on the theme of clouds with Monday’s cloud watching poem, I thought it would be nice to continue the theme for the creative writing tasks.

So this week’s creative writing tasks all have some form of links to clouds! Are you ready? Let’s begin!

Task 1: (5 mins) Let’s get creative and write about different forms of clouds. Choose one of the following themes from the list below and write ten words to describe an image spring to your mind.

  • Clouds of pollen
  • Clouds of butterflies
  • Clouds of flowers
  • Clouds of dust
  • Clouds of dragonflies

Task 2: (5 mins) Dew drops. Clouds form from water vapour rising from the ground. Often when we wake we find dew on the ground as a result of this process. Free write on the following theme for five minutes: Foliage and dew drops.

Task 3: (10 mins) Patterns in the clouds: Imagine going on a picnic on a hot sunny day. Clouds start to form in the sky. You lie down to watch them and suddenly notice an unusual shape that resembles something from nature. Write about what you see; here are some ideas to get you started: A giant acorn, a comma Butterly, sea horses, a large round apple!

Task 4: Look back through your writing today. Pick out five interesting words that stand out. Use them within a final peice of writing entitled ‘Rainfall on a sunny day’, see what happens!

Hope you enjoy these tasks! Don’t forget to email me your creative writing and pictures to: e.mckenzie1@yorksj.ac.uk

See you Friday for words and pictures.

Best wishes,
Emma

Monday’s Poem

10.08.2020

Cloudy Weather

The sky was broidered o'er with cloud to-day,
Wonderful to the sight:
Golden and grey,
Sombre and pale,
Silver and white,
Pinnacled fanes were there, and little flocks at play;
And who should miss the heavens, when this their veil
So great is, and so gay?

Cloudy Weather by Evelyn Underhill 1916

This extract is taken from a book of poems Theophanies published in 1916, drawing on the spirituality of nature and the wonder of the natural world. I don’t know about you, but I love cloud watching and have seen some of the most fantastic landscapes in the clouds.

Look out for this week’s creative writing class on Wednesday which will follow a similar theme!

Best wishes,
Emma

Connect to Nature Creative Writing Class

05.08.2020

While I am away!

Hi everyone!
Having run this online creative writing blog since the end of March, as part of lock down support, I am taking a week off this week, to recharge my batteries and think about some new themes for the coming weeks. In my absence I am leaving the following tasks, which are a little different to usual, but will hopefully help you to keep writing, stay creative and to reflect on our journey so far! If you are new to this blog you might want to reflect on what you hope to get out of it, rather than what we have already done.

Task 1: (5 mins) Observation – The sense of touch. This task was inspired by teasles! When they dry out they are lovely to touch (carefully) did you know that they were traditionally used to comb wool and fibres in the weaving industry?!

Find something natural, whether it is a houseplant, something in your garden, or somewhere outside. Making sure you are steady, close your eyes, and touch the item. How does it feel? Cold? Warm? Prickly? Soft? Write ten words to describe the experience.

Task 2: (10 mins) Your green place. Since March I have been encouraging you to engage with the outside world and nature. Tell me about a green place that is important to you. Following on from the teasel exercise in task 1, can you describe it using all your senses? Do you draw on one green space for your inspiration and connection to nature, or do you have a number of different places?

Task 3: (5 mins) Reflection: Since you have been following these writing classes, can you write about new things that you have learnt? What do you notice since you have been engaging with nature through writing? Has it changed how you experience the world? Tell me about it.

Task 4: (5 mins) Can you think of a writing exercise that would inspire me? Do you have a daily writing habit, or a creative writing technique that you have particularly enjoyed? Is there something in nature that you would love someone else to experience? Spend five minutes designing a creative writing exercise to help someone else connect to nature. You are welcome to send it to me to try out, or to share as part of this blog!

I hope you enjoyed reflecting on your experiences so far. I look forward to catching up next week! There won’t be any Friday Letter’s or Saturday Art Challenge this week, but I will be back as usual on the 10th of August.

Take care.

Best wishes,
Emma

Monday’s Poem

03.08.2020
Tiggy Winkle


Crinkle, crackle, rustle
My tiny feet tread lightly over the
Unswept debris of the garden
During my twilight search for a
Fat juicy slug


Snuffle, scratch, prickle
I push the roundness of myself
Through next door’s hedge
To claim my cat food feast in a
Dish labelled ‘Spike’

This gorgeous hedgehog poem was sent in by Jane and was inspired by last week’s Connect to Nature Writing Class, which had the theme of Heavenly Hedgehogs!

I love the opening lines which make great used of alliteration, and the lovely imagery of a hedgehog snuffling along from one garden to the next! Superb!

This week I am away on leave, but look out for the writing class which is pre-scheduled and will give you some fun tasks to do while I am away! Hope you enjoy!

Best wishes

Emma

Saturday Art Challenge

01.08.2020

Photography Challenge!

Welcome to the weekend art challenge! This week I have been so busy I haven’t had a lot of time to get out the sketch books. I take a lot of photographs when I can’t sit down to draw, so I thought this would make a nice weekend art challenge. All the photos you see here are taken on my phone – you don’t need a fancy camera, just something that will take a snap, the key is in the observation rather than the outcome!

Task 1: Contrasting colours: Can you find contrasting colours in nature and take a snap! Think about the colour wheel and which colours sit opposite each other on the colour spectrum.

Task 2: Interesting shapes and textures. Can you focus in on interesting textures and shapes? Converting your pictures to black and white imagery can help the tonal values stand out and create some interesting patterns. (Excuse my toes in the last pic!! One I obviously didn’t edit!!)

Task 3: Unusual angles. Can you find new and interesting ways to present a photograph. Think about unusual points of interest such as the view framed by the bridge railings, or the fields with red ribbons at the side. The duckling photo makes use of the cloud reflections to make the photo more unusual.

Have fun! Hope you enjoy. There won’t be an art challenge next weekend as I will be away from work generating some more themes! I hope to come back with some new and exciting ideas. We will have Monday’s poem and the Connect to Nature writing class though, so look out for them!

Best wishes,
Emma

Friday’s Letters

31.07.2020

Peace and Tranquility

This week I bring you photographs. Two of Rawcliffe lake sent in by Mark and some photographs from our lovely nature reserve at St Nick’s, where my class usually takes place.

Yesterday I spent a day on the St Nick’s site. We are beginning to try and reach out and make steps towards running the class again. It’s strange returning to such a familiar place after so long, everything was very lush and teaming with butterflies.The good old Dragon Stones are standing steady and ready for visitors.

Wherever you are I hope that these pictures bring some solace and that you have somewhere of your own that you can get some tranquility. Even a beautiful painting on a wall can take us to another place.

I’m taking some annual leave next week, but look out for blog posts, I will schedule them ahead, but we won’t be having a Friday post. Monday’s poem has been sent in by Jane and is inspired by the hedgehog class last week, it’s really lovely and I can’t wait for you all to read it.

Hope you all have a good week! See you soon,

Emma

Connect to Nature Creative Writing Class

29.07.2020

Heavenly Hedgehogs!

Welcome to another week of Connect to Nature Creative Writing. I’ve had a few new followers to the site this week! For those of you who haven’t visited before my Wednesday blog posts are a space to try out creative writing with the aim of connecting to the natural world through doing so.

When we create stories and narratives about the things we are learning it also helps us to remember them, thus enhancing our knowledge of the natural world as we go along.

Last week the class was all about Rock Pools to welcome the summer holidays. This week’s class is all about Heavenly Hedgehogs! I thought it would be nice to write about this shy visitor to our gardens and to learn a bit more in the process. We always have four tasks. The first is aimed just to get our creative juices flowing, followed by two more in-depth tasks and one final shorter task. So are you ready? Here goes!

Task 1: (5 mins) Hedgehogs like to hibernate in nests burrowed under leaves and twigs. Can you write ten words that describe the sensation of dried autumn leaves? Think about the way that leaves sound when they are dry and how they move in contrast to when they are green. The words scatter and crunchy spring into my mind!

Task 2: (10 mins) Folklore around hedgehogs suggests that they could predict the weather and would often move the entrance to their burrow depending which way the wind was blowing. Think about your own home. Which rooms catch the sunlight? Which rooms remain dark? Does one side of your house catch the wind?

Write about the cosiest spot in your home. What makes it cosy? Can you use warm sounding words that make a reader want to come and snuggle up like a hedgehog in its burrow?!

Task 3: (10 mins) In ancient Egypt hedgehogs were reported to have symbolised reincarnation, due to their hibernation and re-birth in the spring. There are two choices for this task:

Either: Imagine that you have just been reincarnated as a hedgehog!!! Write about emerging from your burrow. How does the world feel different?? What is it like walking on hedgehog paws? What does the earth smell like? Where are you? Are you with hedgehog friends?

Or: (If you like to write more factually) Write about a perfect habitat for a hedgehog. What kind of space would a hedgehog like to roam in? What kind of food do they like? How far do they travel?

If you want to do a bit of research to help you out there is a great link here all about how to help hedgehogs, with some brilliant printable fact sheets and activities for all ages.

Task 4: (5 mins) Look through the writing that you have created today. Choose your five favourite lines about hedgehogs and use them to make a micro-poem. It doesn’t have to rhyme, here is an example:

Scrunchy yellow leaves
Hedgehog snuffles and sniffs
Cool earth underfoot
A coat of prickles on my back
A haven for hedgehogs in my garden!

Well, I hope that you enjoyed today’s class! If you are lucky enough to live near greenspace, or to have a garden of your own, dusk is a good time to view our nocturnal friends. Happy hedghog viewing! I really enjoyed researching about these gorgeous little creatures, I hope that you did too!

Please send me any photos or writing on this theme, or anything else nature based, for me to include in Friday’s letters. It is always so lovely to hear from you.

With best wishes,
Emma

All photos courtesy of pixabay

Monday’s Poem

27.07.2020

A tiny poem!

In 2018 I published a tiny book of tiny poems! The book is called ‘Fractured’ and was completed for an art exhibition at the Kunsthuis Gallery in Easingwold which is part of the Dutch House Cafe. For any Yorkshire residents the Dutch House cafe and Kunthuis Gallery is well worth a visit – they are currently open and have a beautiful garden! The exhibition was called Our Earth – (oureARTh) and used art to raise the plight of the environment. My book featured micro poems about nature to help try to re-connect people to the natural world.

So, the following is a tiny poem taken from the book. It has no title, but was included in a section on birds, and simply reads:

Give me the wings
Of a Kestrel
To hold steady
With promise
To soar
Free
In the open sky

I call this type of poetry sketching with words. I like to take inspiration from nature to capture a moment and my feelings. This poem felt very apt for the current situation. I hope that you like it. Why not try your own simple five line poem?

See you on Wednesday for a Connect to Nature Creative Writing Class.

With best wishes,
Emma

Saturday Art Challenge!

25.07.2020

Seashells, seashells, on the seashore!!

Hi everyone! Do you remember that a few weeks ago we did a Ruskin inspired challenge drawing feathers?

Well this week I thought we could use a similar technique to look in detail at pebbles and seashells, following on from this weeks Rock Pool theme for our creative writing tasks. I like to work on brown paper for detailed pencil crayon drawing as it gives a nice base to highlight lighter colours. I used water soluble pencilcrayons for my drawings.

Here is your challenge:

If you have access to them: Use pebbles, shells and sea-drift finds to create detailed drawings to showcase a collection of interesting beach finds. If you haven’t got these, pictures from the internet, or pebbles/ leaves from the garden will do instead, try to copy the exact colours and detail onto paper. Start with the lighter tonal colours working up layers to build to the darker shadows. I also drew in the shadows cast by the objects into my drawings to add an extra 3D effect on the page:

If you fancy going a step further and being more creative – choose a photograph of a rock pool and see if you can find interesting scrap paper or recycled materials to create an image of the photo. In the pictures below I tore up a paper doily and craft papers to add patterns and colours to my rock pool creation. If you look closely you will also notice that I added a different variety of shells to create more interesting details! There are no rules! Have fun!! (You can either use my photo, or find one from the internet, or your own collection).

With best wishes,
Emma

Friday’s Letters

24.07.2020

A warm hello!!

Hello everyone, I hope that you enjoyed the coastal virtual theme on Wednesday. Bringing us back home I have this beautiful picture of honey suckle sent in from Meg, from a picture taken in her garden. This was to help with the painting I have been doing at home – which I have included underneath this picture:

My painting is a first adventure in oils which I have really enjoyed doing, and compliments the garden theme. I’m not sure what I will paint next but I have enjoyed having a go at new techniques.

I saved the best for last, Meg also sent this absolutely gorgeous video of her resident hedgehog. This is one of the loveliest films ever! We decided the hedgehog has a little bit of pooh bear about her, snuffling along in search of food!

See you tomorrow for Saturday’s Art challenge! Hope you have all had a good week.

Best wishes,

Emma