Green Sketching

“Sketching is a fantastic tool for nature connection and wellbeing. But if we want to persuade more people to sketch nature, I believe we have to make sketching much more accessible.”  Dr Ali Foxon, Founder of Green Sketching

I’ve always loved drawing and painting, ever since I was a child and in more recent years, my focus has turned to nature and capturing the wonders of the outdoors through sketching.  The more I notice, the more I see; from the intricacies of a fern beginning to unfurl to the lines and shapes on leaves of trees.  Nature never ceases to amaze me and by sketching we are able to capture a moment in time in a more connected way.  Rather than a quick photo that is saved for later, sketching allows us to slow down and really observe what is in front of us.  I’ve found these mindful moments so beneficial for me during times of anxiety and stress over the years and feel passionate about sharing this wonderful tool with others.

That’s why I have recently trained with Dr Ali Foxon to become a Green Sketching Ambassador in Wiltshire.  Ali is based in the Peak District and is an author and former climate change advisor turned self-taught professional artist.  She is the founder of the green sketching movement and the author and illustrator of The Green Sketching Handbook: Relax and Reconnect with Nature.  Check out Ali’s TEDx talk here about Green Sketching.

What is Green Sketching?

Green sketching is a new approach to sketching nature designed to help you connect with nature and enhance your wellbeing. The focus of green sketching is on the process of observing and sketching nature, not the creation of impressive artwork. It’s an informal and fun approach; the aim is not to learn about nature but to use sketching as a tool to see, enjoy and appreciate the beauty that’s all around us, beauty we so often miss when we’re rushing around or staring at our phones. Taking time to notice and appreciate nature’s beauty is important. It makes us feel good and it encourages us to take better care of the environment.

Who can do it?

Green sketching is suitable for all ages and artistic abilities. You don’t need to be good at drawing to enjoy green sketching. The quality of your sketch is irrelevant. It’s the focused observation associated with sketching that changes what you see and how you feel, not the quality of your artwork. And because a sketch is inherently quick, sketchy and imperfect, green sketching is ideal for busy people who are keen to try something creative but have little spare time on their hands.

How can it benefit you?

The amazing thing about green sketching is that it blends the benefits of creativity, nature connection and mindful relaxation within one simple activity. It can help you slow down and see your surroundings with fresh eyes. The process of green sketching is so utterly absorbing that it’s a great way to take your mind off your troubles. And by diverting your attention onto nature’s beauty, colour and wonder, green sketching is also an effective way to lift your spirits and experience more joy.

How do you get started?

Head outdoors with some paper and something to sketch with (a pencil, pen, coloured pencils… whatever you can find). Scan the surrounding landscape, the trees, flowers, rocks and wildlife and see what catches your eye. Try to find something small that sparks curiosity, wonder or joy. Then doodle it, in your own way. There’s no right or wrong way to sketch something – the way you sketch something is as unique as your handwriting. The longer you spend on your sketch, the more detail you’ll notice, but there’s absolutely nothing wrong with making quick, messy sketches.

What people are saying about my workshops

“I’ve just finished Emma’s Green Sketching workshop, what a lovely way to spend a morning. It’s the first time I’ve attended this type of class and I found it really rewarding. Emma has rejuvenated my interest in sketching and absorbing the beauty of the natural world around us. She is amazing at sharing her passion and sense of wonder, I was totally absorbed. It’s such an important skill I think, to slow down and become mindful of the nature all around us. Well done Emma!” Sarah W

“Wow! What a lovely, relaxing session set in a beautiful location. Art certainly isn’t my forte so I was a bit apprehensive. However, Emma soon made me feel at ease and I soon realised green sketching really can be for anyone of any ability. The session was very informative, well paced and I went away with tools and techniques that I can easily use in the future. Would definitely recommend to any one of any age and ability. Just fab!” Helen C

“I had a wonderful time at the workshop, Emma put me at ease and helped me set my insecurities aside to focus on the beautiful surroundings and really notice the details. Thanks to Emma’s guidance through the exercises, I feel like I’ve been gifted a valuable tool, and I’m looking forward to getting out in nature and sketching again. I would highly recommend this to anyone who is looking for an escape from a busy life, even if you’re not confident in your drawing skills.” Becky G

“I was lucky enough to join one of Emma’s recent Green Sketching classes in the beautiful Jones’s Mill nature reserve in Pewsey, Wiltshire. I joined the class as I was keen to take some time out to mindfully connect with nature, and I had a great time. I was amazed by the tiny details I was able to observe whilst sketching the plants, trees and landscape around us. Emma took the group through sketching exercises, which really helped me to focus on the present. I really enjoyed how there was no focus on our individual ability and no pressure to share our work with the group. Emma was a great help through her introduction to the ideas behind green sketching and careful pointers during the class. I found the sketching helped to clear my mind of all the stresses of daily life and gave me confidence to sketch when out on walks in the future, thanks so much Emma!” Helen D

Book a workshop

I run regular workshops for small groups of adults (of up to 5 people) and on a 1:1 basis, should you wish to enjoy a more private experience.  Whether you’d like to come along to one of my public workshops (next one on Friday 24th May – tickets here), discuss a workshop for your business (many organisations now recognise the need for nature connection for staff wellbeing) or would like to come alone, or with a friend, please get in touch for more information.

Come along on Friday 24th May 2024 to Jones’s Mill Nature Reserve in Pewsey to enjoy 2 hours of green sketching in nature with me. Tickets available here.