Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Location survey: Wales

We've just returned from three days being well-fed and rested in westest wildest Wales.  Just before we left, I read on someone's blog (I'm really sorry, but I can't remember where or who...) about doing a "location survey".

And it struck a chord.  Instead of wondering what to draw, or which sketchbook to draw it in, a location survey gives a structure, a guide - like a scientific process not an "artistic" process.  So I can record textures, colours, lines, shapes, patterns.....thinking about it reminded me of my 17-year-old self chucking a quadrat square around the sand-dunes of Pembrokeshire on my Biology A level field trip, and that was a lot of fun so I thought I'd give it another go.

Unfortunately we chose the wrong week to go to Wales:

Day One - Sleet and sideways rain

So I just had to draw what I could see out of the kitchen window:

Day Two: ventured out as far as the lower field and found an interesting pile of sticks

(don't think David Hockney need be worried yet...)

and coz it's a boggy field, there are a lot of tussocks:

The sun had come out by then, so I sat on a chainsaw-sculpted log seat and drew a quick sketch of the view over the "pond"

The "pond" now isn't, because it's been drained to make a bog garden - too many toddlers toddling over the horizon to have a pond now.  The tree at an angle on the LHS is an old willow tree, and I have spent hours and days of my life sitting in the crook of the branches reading.  The tree has nearly fallen over now, and is a bit too mossy to sit in, which is a shame.  It was a great spot to sit and read - easy to keep an eye on comings and goings from the cottage, people walking or driving tractors up the track from the farm, but not too close to be interrupted or asked to do chores...

Close by, I found this tree:

with it's amazing lichen-encrusted and mossy bark:

I got a bit cold trying to draw the lichen, so I warmed myself up by walking up to the top of the hill opposite the cottage, and down the other side to the track.  The wind was coming from the north and icy-cold, so I made a very quick drawing of the view from the side of the hill and tried to capture the movement of the wind through the long grass:

Day Three: nearly time to go, so time to face my fears and draw the flowers and bits and bobs that I stuck in a jam jar to "draw later":

(larch tufts)

My sketchbook isn't looking how I thought it would - so far it's all "drawings" and not "survey results".  But I'm really pleased that I did so much, and it definitely felt easier!


  1. What a lovely idea, and lovely drawings too :-)

  2. A great way to record a break. My scribblings are not really up to sharing. More practice needed.

  3. Lovely drawings and what a nice idea for a way to record something :)

  4. what a beautiful survey, I want to go there RIGHT NOW! You could write up your 'notes' along side the drawings, like it was a lovely experiment. Hmmm, favorite: larch, broken willow branch or lichen. Conclusion; all of them ;)

  5. Gosh you got so much done! All lovely too...esp the muscari and forsythia. And the landscape would make a great quilt.....


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