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Orkney artist completes a drawing a day - for a year!

Orkney artist Laura Drever produces work inspired by the island's unique landscape. In 2015 she successfully completed a "365 drawing challenge", creating a new sketch every single day for a year.

We caught up with Laura as she prepares for her latest exhibition to find out more...

How do you approach your work? What's your inspiration?

Orkney landscape has always been the focus of my practice. I take walks in the landscape looking at things as I go - the shapes, the textures, the colours, the mood. And I come back to the studio and transfer that onto the canvas.

It could be the shapes of the lochs, it could be the grassy banks of the hills, it could be the changing light, it’s to do with the elements, the change of weather in Orkney, and bringing those all together.

Laura Drever 365 drawings - final day

Reflection of the place allows for an interpretation to be created, it allows for a place to be revisited, reconfigured and reworked. I am always aware of my surroundings and spend a lot of time appreciating the landscape. My aim is to evoke a sense of place.

Working mostly on canvas with acrylic, oil, ink and graphite allows for experimentation with materials in the studio. Often sketches are done in multiples, extracting different elements of the walk – shapes in the landscape whether it be the curves of the horizon, a path carved by nature or movements made from birds in flight.

Why did you decide to attempt a drawing a day for a year?

I’m really dedicated to my painting and I thought I would see if I could be dedicated to doing a drawing a day. I was lucky enough to receive a bit of funding from the Arts Fund at the Orkney Council in 2015.

Laura Drever drawing

This project has taught me discipline and focus - to give priority to my artistic practice in a life that is full of other commitments.- Laura Drever, artist

And how did it go?

I think I always knew I could do it, although at times it was really hard, sitting after a day’s works and feeling like you’ve got to do something goes against the grain of how I work as an artist, so that a real challenge but also a real motivator because I knew I had to do it, and I wanted to get this collection of 365 drawings.

Having to do that, setting myself that task, was really good for me I think and coming back into the studio after that, it really feels like I’m more focussed on what I want to convey - the sense of place that I want to convey about Orkney and my paintings.

I’m so glad I did it. There are some that are really terrible but there are some that are really focussed and I think I’ve brought that into some of the works in this exhibition.

Laura Drever drawing

Tell us about your latest exhibition?

Fea is a showcase of work created over a three-year period and includes about 40 works from different areas around Orkney.

Fea is the old Norse name for hill - a lot of the paintings in the collection have hills in them. I love looking at the Orkney map seeing the old Orkney words and names for places - it adds something to each of my works, giving them an identity.

Laura Drever exhibition at Old Library, Orkney

What would you say to anyone thinking about doing a similar 365 challenge?

I would say do it! It can be really helpful in your development as an artist. Makes you really think about why you’re doing it, makes you think about how hard it is sometimes, but also the pleasure you can get out of it as well.

Undertaking a drawing a day enabled me to dedicate time to focus, reflect on the subject matter as well as develop skills.  The drawings have informed my painting practice and act as a reference for future works. Also, they have helped reaffirm what I believe to be important aspects in the portrayal of Orkney’s landscape.

This project has taught me discipline and focus. It has allowed me to give priority to my artistic practice in a life that is full of other commitments. It’s a real focussing thing to do.

I would do it again, but maybe in a couple of years!

Laura Drever Fea

Laura's 365 drawings project was supported by Orkney Islands Council, HIE and Creative Scotland through our Visual Arts and Craft Makers Awards Scheme.

Fea is on in the Exhibition Room in the Old Library in Kirkwall, Orkney until 21 July 2018.

This article was published on 18 Jul 2018