|Staff and volunteers head out on the beach to find subjects to draw and enjoy the sun|
“Nature journaling is the process of keeping a place-based, personal record of events, observations, and experiences in the outdoors.” —Kate Hofmann and Joe Passineau, A Nature Journaling Guide: Fostering a Naturalist Outlook
A nature journal is more than just a sketchbook, and the process of nature journaling goes beyond simply making art that is nice to look at. An important part of the process is making careful observations about what you are drawing, and asking questions about what you see. Nature journaling can be a great way to make deeper connections with the world around you, to become a better observer, and to learn more about plants, animals, geology, or any other natural science subject you're interested in. The best part, of course, is that it's lots of fun! You get to decide what approach to take, and what you want to get out of it.
“One way to open your eyes is to ask yourself, ‘What if I had never seen this before? What if I knew I would never see it again?” —Rachel Carson
After creating art my entire life, I have recently started exploring nature journaling as a way to improve my skills, productivity, and the level of meaning in my work. I shared my philosophy and a few practical tips to help volunteers get started. These tips are also great to keep in mind for anyone who wants to pick up a pencil and some paper and head outside, regardless of your skill level:
- Accuracy is more important than aesthetics
- Record basic info like the date, location, and weather to help capture the moment.
- Detailed labels and notes are key!
- Don't be afraid to write on your drawings
- Make it personal — add your thoughts and feelings
- Respond to what you are seeing — ask questions
- Try to fill a page each time you go out
- Nature is all around you — journaling can happen anywhere!
|Wendy and Katie investigate a bird on the beach|
|Roger journals on the beach|
CAROLYN WOODS is the Natural History Exhibit and Volunteer Educator and an AmeriCorps Member serving at the Port Townsend Marine Science Center.