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

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