It started with drawing…line, form, taking time to see. Then came the shooting…chiaroscuro photographs with their white surrounds, instamatics and colour shots, followed by camcorders, and now an iPhone. Leaves of sketchbooks and photograph albums filled with images inspired by leaves on trees and plants through which birds sang and animals made secret journeys.

To draw is to notice.

One spends eye-time with the subject. Details emerge with the devotion of ones’ attention. Drawing is the mainstay of my practice as an artist: the starting point from which inspiration flows; the means by which ideas develop; the portal through which the world enters my work. 

Drawing takes many forms: one draws sensory information from the natural world on daily walks; drawing excursions allow time for deep explorations of form, colour, local pigments and found objects; sudden stops in laybys (with a sketchbook pulled from the ever present ‘sketch’ bag behind the driver’s seat) present opportunities for chance encounters with the changing seasons.

Time spent drawing focusses the eye, heart and senses on ones’ surroundings. Simply sitting and noticing through each sense separately, builds a picture which may be communicated through more than a line on a page but equally the whole feel of the world in that moment, may be expressed beautifully by just a few lines.

What used to be shooting a roll of film is now made ultra-accessible through phone-cameras and digital SLRs. This way of collecting material from which to develop work is seductive, easy, even excessive. Like the porridge pot in the story – the unstoppable flood of images and words threatens to drown us all. It is most challenging for the artist to edit, or even focus, on elements with which to make work. Direct communication of imaginary and thought, the addiction to approbation, leave little room for reflection and selection, let alone development or presentation. 

Ones attention is the key. Let the leaves of your sketchbooks fill with the time you spend in nature. Take out your ear buds and listen to the birds, the wind, the water, the leaves. Leave your phone at home and go out for a walk. Stop, and draw on nature for her gifts are marvellous indeed. Take time in nature to draw (it does not matter is you are not pleased with the outcome) for it is the pleasures of noticing and looking deeply which bring their own rewards.

Victoria Burton-Davey