Liz Myhill – bursary winner 2018

The Seabird Drawing Course has been an incredible experience of total absorption into a subject and place. Its rare to have a period of being focussed solely on the simple daily rhythm of going out to draw, experiencing new places and sights and sharing it all with so many lovely people – all with a common goal and who were so open to discussing their thoughts, ideas and approaches.
Although I have enjoyed working outdoors for many years its only recently that wildlife and seabirds in particular have become a focus in my artwork. The biggest challenge during the week would be attempting to capture the essence of a moving, living creature in an interesting way and to understand its form and anatomy. And that’s not to mention being overwhelmed by some of the surroundings we were working in and the challenges they presented ….such as a very windy, gannet infested Bass Rock where one of my drawings blew into the colony and although thankfully retrieved came back full of peck holes!

Gannet sketchbook studies from the Bass Rock and circling the island by boat.

The week definitely wasn’t without its struggles as I grappled with trying to balance good draughtsmanship and accuracy of form with interesting mark-making. And the sheer feeling of being overwhelmed by wanting to try so much in such a short time. It felt really important also to try and take some time just to appreciate and absorb the feeling of place.

Throughout the week there were moments of both absolute exhaustion and total exhilaration but the best bit was there was always someone to share that with. Coming together every evening to relax and talk over everyone’s triumphs and challenges of the day was one of the best parts of the week…that and the shared experience of working together in some truly awe-inspiring surroundings. I can’t thank everyone enough for being such a lovely, fun group to spend time with.

Gull chicks enjoying the sunshine on Fidra, they spent most of the day within just a few feet of where I was sitting.

Each day brought fresh new discoveries and ideas. The tutors wide range of approaches led to a fantastic balance in the feedback about work and different chats we had, each coming from a slightly different angle. They were all so generous, knowledgable and full of enthusiasm. Some of the chats in particular and the various drawing exercises we undertook really resonated and pushed me to try new ways of working. By the end of the week I think everyone felt they had achieved some kind of breakthrough at one point or another, I certainly had several moments of sudden clarity about my practice.

Guillemot covered stacks and swirling birds at St Abbs

The week itself was amazing, stunning locations, great company, new challenges, but what I like best is the fact it doesn’t stop at the end of the week…there are new things I’ve learnt, things I want to try and a whole new group of like-minded people who I’m sure I’ll be in touch with for many years to come. All in all it was just so much fun!