Drawing from nature… and a feline surprise

Teaching other teachers can be daunting but last week’s training session at Kew Gardens was a gentle and affirming experience. I team taught the session with my colleague Stuart Simler and we began with two warm up exercises to focus and encourage observation: blind drawings and desperate drawings in the dry tropics of the Princess of Wales Conservatory. Then onto some sgraffito, using black card and oil pastels which are applied thickly before scratching in details such as cactii spines and ridges with a sharp skewer. Finally, Stuart guided the group into the rainforest where they focused on outlines, tearing shapes and creating patterned layers in a range of papers to recreate the spiralling foliage of the wet tropics. During the plenary, feedback from our group was really positive and teachers reflected on aspects they’d enjoyed: the relaxed warm up sessions and using materials in a new way.

As the light faded at the end of the day this spectacular, handsome beast appeared by the Palm House – it turned out he was at Kew for a fashion shoot. Apparently he had died of natural causes at the Zoo

lion in the garden

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