Friday, September 02, 2016

The John Busby Seabird Drawing Course & Bursaries

The Seabird Drawing Course was set up by the late John Busby and is an inspiring residency held in Scotland with access to the Bass Rock seabird colony.

This post is about:
  • the nature of the course
  • the bursaries offered by the Society of Wildlife Artists for those wanting to attend the course
  • the SWLA annual exhibition - and a special offer to readers of this blog.

The John Busby Seabird Drawing Course

John Busby (author of the authoritative publication Drawing Birds and Looking at Birds) set up the seabird drawing course 25 years ago. It is an independent course and open to all.

It offers the opportunity to:
  • work alongside c.20 established and enthusiastic artists and 
  • get an insight into the diverse approaches that those artists have to working in the field.
Dates: The next week long course is to be held in June 2017
Venue: Seabird colonies around North Berwick and the Firth of Forth.
Course Leaders: The Course is typically led by members of the Society of Wildlife Artists which has lots of members who like drawing birds! In 2017, Course leaders Kittie Jones, Greg Poole, John Threlfall (author of Drawn to the Edge) & Darren Woodhead will be on hand to offer advice and guidance on drawing and painting in the field.

The course is run by Mark Boyd and you can to apply to go on the course independently please write to Mark on

This is a blog post by Bruce Pearson about this year's course which he attended in June

The SWLA Seabird Drawing Course Bursaries

Drawing by Evelina Flodstrom - Winner of the 2016 Bursary

The Society of Wildlife Artists (SWLA) also offer two or three bursaries each year - to emerging artists - for places on the Course.
Applications need to include evidence of previous artwork
  • DO SEND images of recent artwork that demonstrate the ability to sketch from life  - including sketches and fieldwork (they don't have to be polished, finished works)
  • DO NOT SEND Artwork copied from photos. This is considered to be of little relevance to the nature of the seabird drawing course.

What the bursary provides

The current bursary is £550 per person, divided as follows;
  • Course fee (£330) (which is paid directly by SWLA).
  • £220 - paid shortly before the course for use by the applicant e.g. boat trips (£30/trip, ranging from none to 3 or 4) and/or towards accommodation.
These are links to blog posts by past Bursary Winners saying what the course meant to them.

Max Angus - The Seed Searchers

The Natural Eye: The Society of Wildlife Artists Annual Exhibition 

The Society of Wildlife Artists will be hosting The Natural Eye: The Society of Wildlife Artists Annual Exhibition at the Mall Galleries between 26 October to 6 November.  It will doubtless be including some of the artwork made as a result of the Seabird Drawing Course.

Readers of this blog can get free entry for two to the exhibition (normal price £6) if you mention this blog (the Making A Mark blog) at the Gallery Desk 

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