Sidmouth Society of Artists’ most recent demonstration featured Alex Boon, who describes himself as a ‘nature journalist’ which he explained is a ‘professional observer of nature’s details’. He makes his living from lecturing, presentations, and YouTube educationals.

Humble beginnings

As a child his grandmother taught him the power of observation using vases of flowers and plants and schooled him in watercolours at which he became increasingly expert.

Change the record

Alex explained the concept of journaling, - the idea is to keep a record of nature’s progress by making a periodical diary of the flora and fauna that is around us-it could be a grasshopper, a greater stitchwort, a cliff landslide, a flood, all captured by using paintings and written elaborations and all entered beautifully into the blank pages of a book. The pages, which can be re-visited weekly, monthly, or yearly are updated with progress reports, again in pictures and words. Alex made the point that if you can implant yourself in a quiet spot to observe, for example birds, then nature will come to you.

Close encounters of the ‘herd’ kind

I can personally vouch for the validity of this Keep Still sort of practice because I once set up my easel and chair in a shallow stream on Dartmoor to paint a stone bridge. I was engrossed there painting away when a cow came up behind me and put her head over my shoulder, ‘well hello there’ I responded in my best Leslie Phillips voice, but I moved her on lest her slobbering chops were to deface my splendid picture. When I looked around there were several other cows nearby stood in the stream who simply couldn’t care less about my presence. I can only say that in that moment I felt at one with nature in a way that was new to me.

Alex Boon is an extremely focused individual with, it appears, something of a mission to study and record the cycle of life and pass on his knowledge to the rest of us. His presentation held the well-attended assembly enrapt in fascination. If you would like to find out more about the SSA and our exciting programme for the rest of the year, please visit our website It would be great to hear from you.