CMP Review 2023-05-11

CMP Review 2023-05-11

May 11, 2023

I remember how relieved I was to hear that it was OK to draw with colored pencils in my nature notebook. I was equally discomforted when I learned that it was not the Charlotte Mason way.

Describing nature notebooks at the House of Education in 1898, Herbert Geldart wrote, “The original sketches are almost invariably brush-paintings in water-colours without outline, a method which catches the ‘gesture,’ as Mr. Ruskin calls it, and general character of a plant better than drawing with a point or with a hard outline.”

Plants are alive, and their living gesture is not captured with a line. That’s what they were taught at Miss Mason’s school, and it was important to her. She lamented that the genius Goethe “as an old man” was still drawing lines, because his art studies did not have a “living beginning” in his youth.

I sat with a blank page and a living sample before me. I yearned to draw an outline, to contain the shape in a fixed and controlled edge. But then I dipped the brush in my paint and allowed myself to trust. I trusted that the pressure of the brush alone could create the shape. If I could just feel the motion and the flow of the leaf…

… I leaned back to look at the page. I won’t pretend that I created a work of art. But I will say that I connected more deeply with one small piece of nature’s beauty. And that is no empty gesture.