It was a teachable moment when artist Jeff Charlesworth suggested that one of the artists participating at Saturday’s “Slow Looking and Nature Sketching Walk” along the Lawrence Hopewell Trail get bolder with her drawing pencil.
Valerie Rushmore was one of a score of people sketching a 30-foot high black locust tree along the trail in Carson Road Woods but her pencil marks were very light, barely discernible to anyone but to herself.
By the end of the three-hour walk that went through trails and into a lovely – and cooler – beech tree grove in the woods, Valerie had taken that counsel to heart. As everyone shared their artworks and their learnings with the group, she proudly held up a beautiful, bold sketch of a tree trunk from the beech grove. Her strokes showed confidence and details, and even from 15 feet away, the sketch was perfectly visible.
Valerie Rushmore sharing her work
All walkers at the event, with its purposely limited enrollment during Covid-19 times, were very respectful of each other’s safety. Everyone wore masks, only lowering them to talk at a “social distance” of six feet, or in many cases, much farther away from each other. In fact, in other times, the class might have seemed disconnected, with people ranging as far away from each other as 30 or more feet – unless they were family members, of course.
Even professional photographer Andrew Cross, another attendee at the walk, followed Jeff’s instructions to look slowly at everything. Jeff, who teaches landscape architecture, planting design and graphics at Delaware Valley University in Doylestown, had cautioned participants to put aside their preconceived ideas of what a tree, or a landscape, or a leaf looks like, and to look freshly at what they were going to sketch. For Andrew, that meant “sketching” through his camera lens. And what he saw was very different than he might have otherwise thought a leaf or a berry looked like.
The art trek, the second such walk hosted by the LHT, will be followed by another in the near future. That’s because by late Friday, the day before the event, the sign-up sheet listed another 21 people on the waiting list. Watch for an announcement about another walk soon.
Photo by Andrew Cross