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Drawing Inspiration from Nature Students in the Spring Term course Drawing in Place practice observational drawing in a beautiful setting near Lexington.

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Nature Camp in Vesuvius, just a 30-minute drive from Lexington, is the idyllic setting for Drawing in Place, a Spring Term class taught by Art Instructor Leigh Ann Beavers.

The class allows students to develop observational drawing skills in the context of information about this specific setting: the plants, birds, salamanders, and forest communities of the George Washington National Forest.

On a recent day, students spent time in a chosen spot, noticing their surroundings before beginning to draw. They jotted down what had changed since their last time in that spot and noted what they could not identify, such as certain varieties of wildflowers or trees.

Next, they put on blindfolds and sat still, listening to the sound of the forest around them. While blindfolded, they made more notes about what they were hearing, allowing the absence of sight to focus their attention on another layer of observation: aural.

For the next hour of class, she challenged students to create four small watercolor paintings of Big Mary’s Creek. They were told to focus on the colors and distorted images on the surface of the water, not on what lay beneath the surface. “The point of the class is that they can go deeper and deeper and not just draw scenes,” Beavers said.

“This isn’t something I would do on my own so it’s really nice to get a chance to experience it through this class,” said Angela Delos Reyes ’20.

Soon, students will select a specific focus for a series of drawings that will constitute their final project. Some may focus on specific plants, for example. Delos Reyes said she would like to do a series of bird drawings.

“The class is about this accumulation of knowledge about this place,” Beavers said. “Everything generates a drawing.”

For senior Brianna Osaseri ’19, the class is especially meaningful. “Professor Beavers is my favorite professor, and she has been with me in my art journey since freshman year. It is really special to take my last class with her.”

Click here to read more about W&L Spring Term courses.