• Published on Tuesday, 16 July 2013
  • | Bursary reports
  • | John Busby Seabird Drawing

Bursary Winner Gina Ellis

Gina Ellis received an SWLA Bursary for the Seabird Drawing Course in Scotland. We received this report about her experience:

The John Busby Seabird Drawing Course takes place in Scotland for one week every summer. It is run by Mark Boyd and four splendid tutors: John Busby, Greg Poole, John Threlfall and Darren Woodhead, who share their knowledge and expertise of drawing birds in the field.

I felt extremely honoured to have been awarded the SWLA bursary to attend this year’s course. The bursary allowed me to participate in an organised programme alongside fellow artists. I had been looking forward to the course where I planned to immerse myself within the group and absorb as much comment and advice as possible from both the tutors and my peers.

Each morning we were greeted by brilliant sunshine but we headed out with jackets and waterproof trousers just in case. The first two days were spent drawing hundreds of nesting Gannets that had taken over Bass Rock. It was so densely covered in white birds that from the mainland the rock appears to be made of chalk! The Gannets were impressive and we were able to study them in detail as we were sat close enough to touch them. The tutors made themselves available throughout the day to give any needed advice which I found immensely helpful.

We were encouraged to show and discuss our progress with one another and by the evening the high standard of work became apparent. There was a wide range of styles and materials used and each night I looked forward to viewing the varied creations resulting from a hard day’s work.

The final two days I drew on the cliff tops at St Abbs. This was my favourite location. The landscape was breathtaking and watching the nesting Guillemots through the lens of a telescope was very calming. I found myself contentedly studying the seabirds throughout my final two days.

I am very grateful to the SWLA for providing me with the opportunity to gain an excellent grounding in working from life, studying different birds in their natural environments. This has helped me to learn to capture the character and habits of a species. This course was the perfect starting point for me to create new and inspired ceramic sculptures.

Being able to get close to the birds and spend whole days studying their behaviour was essential for me to develop as an artist with a passion for nature. I could not have done this without the help of the SWLA bursary. The tutors were both encouraging and insightful and I came away from the experience with a broader knowledge as well as some new friends. I do hope to attend the course again in the future as it opened my eyes to the complexity and intricacy of the delicate bird form.

Gina Ellis