Artist Pam Johnson Brickell teaches workshops in nature journaling as a means of remembering ‘time spent in places you love, soaking up the slower side of life.
A group of budding artists sets up its chairs in the Sea Pines Forest Preserve, paper and watercolor pencils in hand. But though the work they produce will be works of art, these aren’t experienced artists — just people drawing and creating nature journals for themselves, and the joy of it.
Artist Pam Johnson Brickell, a Clemson University-certified master naturalist, teaches a series of nature journal workshops at the Society of Bluffton Artists Gallery and at Coastal Art Supply in Beaufort. Creating a nature journal is a way to capture the bounty of the world, she says, a way to relax and take in the essence of the environment, a means by which you can record and hold onto images that inspire.
“Imagine, years from now, pulling a sketchbook from the shelf and knowing that it will reveal your intimate experiences with nature, time spent in places you love, soaking up the slower side of life,” Brickell says. “Any given page will transport you back in time, enabling you to feel the breeze on your skin, smell the aromas of the salt marsh or recapture the awe you felt when an egret blessed you with a close encounter.”
Brickell stresses that students who take her workshops aren’t professionals — just regular folks drawing for themselves. They begin by taking watercolor pencil techniques or sketching techniques workshops and move on to field trips in places such as Sea Pines Forest Preserve, the Church of the Cross, Fish Haul Creek Park or Jarvis Creek Park.
Student Harriett Selva lives in Lexington, Ky., but spends several weeks a year on Hilton Head. A veteran of several workshops, she says Brickell “makes us believe that we all have some worthy ability to create. Through Pam’s instruction I’ve learned to see colors, shapes, and shadows that I never noticed before.”
Selva says one of her favorite field trips was to Fish Haul Creek on a foggy morning. “We sat on the beach and painted a scene looking out on Port Royal Sound with large rocks in the foreground. Pam helped us to see colors and shapes in all of that gray,” she says.
On field trips “the only things you need are a chair, watercolor pencils and paper,” says Brickell. Students can choose what they wish to sketch or paint, which can be anything from a broad landscape to a single plant. Throughout the field trip, Brickell will offer advice and tips on technique, but more important, she says, is that her students learn to see and appreciate the natural world.
“You find that you totally lose yourself in the environment. Everything around you disappears and you forget the stresses of the day,” said Brickell. “The world opens up its bounty when you learn to see. A tree, plant or animal that’s long been named and cataloged can still be discovered for the first time.”
CREATE YOUR OWN NATURE JOURNAL
Watercolor Pencil Techniques: Discover the ease and versatility of painting with watercolor pencils and a Niji waterbrush. This is a good medium for watercolor beginners and experienced painters looking to add another tool to their arsenals. Learn how to create washes, clouds, grasses, Lowcountry vegetation and more. The workshop will be held from 9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. March 5 at the Society of Bluffton Artists Gallery. 48 Boundary St., Bluffton. $55. 843-422-5964
Recreate Your Garden in a Box — An Unbound Garden Journal: Celebrate your existing garden or plan a new one. Brickell leads a workshop that teaches pen and watercolor wash techniques for recording your favorite plants, garden designs and animals. Date and location to be announced. 843-422-5964