Last week I joined fifth graders from the Evergreen School at the NW Maritime Center in Port Townsend for my fourth year of “expeditionary camp.” During a fantastic few days, the students build boats, learn about navigation, go sailing, and practice expeditionary art and journaling with me. Heading out to the Olympic Peninsula, I experienced the usual ferry wait.

Waiting for the Edmonds-Kingston ferry boat, 9″ x 9″ ink and watercolor

Then I experienced an unusual wait at the Hood Canal Bridge which was under maintenance. Fortunately it was a nice day and I could enjoy the view.

Waiting for Hood Canal Bridge maintenance, 9″ x 9″ ink and watercolor

I love sketching outdoors and it’s always a pleasure to see how the students dive into field sketching.

Fifth grade students quietly beach sketching.
Fifth grade students quietly beach sketching.

During one of our sessions, we were visited by a territorial Kingfisher and I guided the students through gesture sketching. I love completing rapid sketches of animals. As they move, I watch them intently, and try to take mental shots to draw them in various positions and get a sense of their energy.

Kingfisher BW
Kingfisher gestures, ink

I added simple watercolor washes to a number of the sketches. Just a little color can bring them to life!

Kingfisher gestures, ink and watercolor

By the end of our three days together, the students had completely filled both sides of a 13″ x 40″ journal. We fold them in half lengthwise, then accordion style, to create a unique sketchbook.

Student journal maps, 13″ x 40″ double accordion fold

We do an “art walk” at the end to appreciate everyone’s work. I encourage the students to think about the journals as a record of their explorations, observations, and personal expression with a healthy dose of creative license!

Sharing journals through a final art walk

Before I left the students, a few from the group spoke in appreciation. One particularly stood out to me, “I discovered that sketching could be more than just doodling, but seeing the world in different ways!” It delights me to share art and I reminded everyone of words I keep close to heart, from my first grade teacher, “a creative person is never bored!”