State park hosts nature sketch workshop
By STEVE BEGNOCHE
Managing Editor Emeritus
HAMLIN TWP. — Slow down. Study shapes, shadows, lighting. Look closely. Such was the message of Ludington painter Mary Case as she gave instructions to participants Thursday evening in the Sable Dunes Chapter of the Audubon Society’s See and Sketch Michigan Beautiful nature sketching workshop at Ludington State Park.
It was an exercise “in really seeing what we’re looking at,” Chapter President Joe Moloney explained.
Artists Anna Gwiazdowski and Elise Doan also helped the couple dozen people who filled the warming center at the park on a day where many people sought respite from 80-degree-plus temperatures tubing down the Big Sable River floating to the Lake Michigan outlet.
Tubers were neither the wildlife nor the nature scenes the sketchers were seeking. Milkweed, the river scene, the woods and other more natural scenes were drawn in pencil on sketch pads on a walk to the nearby river.
Then, back at the shelter, they redrew them on larger pieces of paper and, in many cases, colored them in.
Avonlea Johnson, 5, of Ludington, concentrated with a furrowed brow as she studied the tree-lined river in front of her. Case talked with her about what the young girl was seeing and how that might be sketched.
Meanwhile, Avonlea’s grandmothers, Judy Johnson of Ludington and Alice Anderson of Hamlin Township, sketched scenes of their own, as did others.
Nearby, Forest Patulski sat next to a birch tree studying the river.
“It was interesting,” his mother Heather Patulski said. Forest and his brother Hunter are both very interested in nature, she said.
“This is cool,” Case said back at the shelter as the sketchers transferred their sketches to the final paper, adding detail and
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color from memories they gathered studying the scenes each chose to draw. She said she enjoyed seeing what the people saw in their own ways using their eyes as cameras. She said they were using their sketches as true studies in congruence with what they saw, remembered and interpreted.
“I think it’s a great workshop,” park camper Dan Seif of Wyoming, Michigan, said.
Seif said he’s trying to be more artistic at home. “This helps,” he said, adding he also enjoyed the presentation on turtles of Oceana County by Professor Dennis Merritt that preceded the sketching exercise.
Moloney said so often people are caught up in adding to their life lists of birds or other aspects of the natural world.
“I want us to learn about how to see what we’re looking at,” he said of one goal of the event. “Appreciate the detail. Appreciate the subtly in nature that we often take for granted.”
Moloney said he also hoped the event drew a younger group of people to the meeting of the club and attract some campers or park visitors, too.
“I just want to connect with our visitors and keep appreciating the beauty we have under our nose.”
For one afternoon at least, mission accomplished.
Forest Patulski studies the Big Sable River while sketching at Ludington State Park Thursday. He was participating in the Sable Dunes Chapter of the Audubon Society’s See and Sketch Michigan Beautiful workshop.
Avonelea Johnson shows the finished and colored drawing made after the sketch study at Ludington State Park.
Avonlea Johnson works in the warming shelter on her final drawing with her grandmothers Judy Johnson, left, and Alice Anderson.
Camper Dan Seif works on a sketch.