Each fall over the last several years an exhibit of Drawings from Nature have appeared at the Museum. The artists are all students of Julia S. Child of Woods Hole and are all adult year-round residents of Woods Hole and Falmouth. Most of these students are over age fifty and have come to Julie’s classes from varying backgrounds and abilities. One, Tom Hodgson, says he had never picked up a colored pencil nor done a nature drawing till he came to Julie’s class. Now his drawings are among the most accomplished and beautiful. Most of the work has been done in colored pencil, though there are also illustrations in pen and ink and watercolor.
The students quickly point out that the detail and precision of the drawings does not come quickly or easily. The students draw from nature, usually from Julie’s collection of specimens of insects or shells or from live samples. They can spend hours working on one butterfly’s wing. All the students agree that Julie has the ability to make them really look carefully at their subject, to really see what is before them, to look at the “negative space” even before they pick up a pencil. As Jeanette Fullerton, who has taken the Nature Drawing classes for two years says “I have done watercolor and sketching for many years, but on taking Julie’s class, I really learned to look, and look again…. and also to use colored pencils. I am so impressed with the other students’ work.”
Julie has been teaching nature drawing and biological illustration since 1976, primarily at Sarah Lawrence College and the Children’s School of Science in Woods Hole, inspiring and guiding students through all these years. She began teaching a series of Nature Drawing classes for adults to this “Woods Hole Group” in her “retirement” and her students won’t let her stop. The classes have taken place for ten years.
As Jennifer Gaines, former director of the Museum and also a student of Julie’s says “She seems to pull this ability out of us, to make us better observers and artists. When you look at us as a bunch, we look pretty ordinary; but out of us, thanks to Julie, come these extraordinarily beautiful drawings.” The end result is closer to the skills of “biological illustration” than to “artistic interpretation”, yet these artists see the beauty within the object and bring it onto the paper for the viewer to enjoy.