Exploring woodlands in spring is a wonderful way to immerse yourself in the season and find an abundance of inspiration for your artwork or creative projects. There is something truly magical about the renewed energy that this time of year brings to woodlands and there's so much to discover, from the fresh, green leaves on the trees, enchanting displays of blossom, vibrant wildflowers, and the sights and sounds of birds and other wildlife.
So whether you’re an artist, creative or simply looking for ideas to experience the season, here are some sketchbook ideas to get you started exploring springtime woodlands and gather inspiration for your artwork and creative projects!
"The wonderful season of spring brings with it a renewed energy in woodlands, a shift in pace and purpose, a reawakening as the last days of winter are left behind."
1. Spring colour studies
Woodlands in spring are full of colours just waiting to be discovered, the earthy browns and greys of winter slowly transition into bright, fresh vibrant bursts as new growth starts to appear.
Take a moment to study the colours found in the woodland and create swatches in your sketchbook using coloured pencils or paint. This is a really great way to explore potential new palettes and colour combinations to take further into your creative practice.
2. Patterns of Spring
Woodlands hold so much potential for discovering patterns and textures. Take some time to look around you and draw the patterns that you notice. Try getting up close and focusing on the small details (you can really find some magic here!), such as the patterns in tiny mosses, the intricate vein structure on a flower petal or leaf, the rough surface of bark, or the new buds forming on trees.
3. Blossom Studies
A truly welcome sight of spring has to be the huge variety of tree blossom which create beautiful displays in woodlands, hedgerows and our parks and gardens.
Follow the progress of a blossoming tree by taking sketches of it in early spring as the buds form, again as it starts to blossom and then finally in full bloom. This works well if you can choose a tree local to you or on a regular walking route so you can easily take notice of changes. Take a look at this guide here to help you identify tree blossom.
4. Discovering New Wildflowers
From snowdrops in early February to the carpets of bluebells through April and May the season of spring really is a wonderful time to find your favourite woodland wildflowers while also discovering some new ones.
While you're walking, pay attention to the forest floor and the hedgerows around you and if you come across a wildflower that you don’t recognise make a quick sketch, note down any details such as colour, size, and where it was found and perhaps also take a photo. You can then use these notes later to identify your new discovery, I find this UK wild flower guide by the Wildlife Trust pretty handy!
Remember there are many toxic and harmful plants – so don’t touch or pick plants unless you’re fully confident you know what they are and you know they are safe.
5. Bird Sketches
Birds are one of my favourite things to paint but I find sketching them from life almost impossible as they really don’t stay in one position for long! So, find a spot to sit for a moment and just observe them. Watch their movements, their behaviour and how they interact with the trees and other birds around them. Note down your observations and then make a quick sketch from memory, just focusing on the shape of the bird and any of its markings.
6. Listen to the Dawn Chorus
Another wonderful way to experience birds in nature is to listen to them singing in the early mornings of spring, which is a particularly active time of year for birdsong.
Find a spot to sit and take a mindful minute just to listen to the birds singing around you. Choose to observe and sketch the birds in your sketchbook if you wish, or just enjoy the feeling of being immersed in the sounds of spring around you!
Take a look here for the RSPB's guide to the dawn chorus, when to experience it and for a little help in identifying different birdsong.
Woodlands in spring can offer so much inspiration for artists, it’s a wonderful time of year to explore and discover nature – and a sketchbook is a really great tool to allow us to gather that inspiration. I hope these sketchbook ideas will help you to creatively explore woodlands this spring!