Edith Holden was an incredible illustrator during the late 19th & early 20th centuries. In another post, I discuss how I have used her books [nature journals] for the past couple of years to help teach my students how to draw; how to create and maintain an art journal; and how to better appreciate nature. In this post, I want to salute Holden’s picturesque writing. I have masters degrees in both writing and visual art; and I wrote a thesis about William Blake, the 18th century poet who also illustrated his work. I have long been drawn to people who are both authors and illustrators. When I write, I form mental pictures to help me recreate my image in words. This is called picture writing. I teach children in my small art school; and during pretty weather, we go outside; observe something; draw it; and then write about it. Writing, drawing, and painting reinforce each other. They increase a person’s power of observation; and that not only improves one’s art–it also increases intelligence.
As I said in the previous post, I just discovered an old series based on Holden’s life and works. There are 12 episodes — one for each month. You have to wade through some of the Corn and Heidi’s Grandpa stuff; but there is just enough gold in each episode to base a study. The good part of the episode [which was 11 minutes into the 24-minutes of episode 1] shows the nature [i.e. the rabbits for January] and other wildlife in nature. It has excerpts from her writing; and it shows the actress seeming to draw from what might have been Edith’s findings.
I highly recommend this series for both artist and writers–and teachers of the same. It shows how one’s observations can be distilled into creative works–both visual and literary.
AGAIN–I Suggest skipping the first 11 minutes of this video, which is Episode 1–especially if you are using this as a resource with children. They might agree with me that the first 11 minutes are a bit weak, perhaps even inappropriate for kids.