I’m very glad I’ve learned the basic “how-to’s” of nature journaling. Although our weather was quite uncooperative for a while — rain, ice, and snow in April — it finally warmed up a bit. I was able to get out to the hiking trails on Earth Day, and that became the start of my spring journaling season.
Here is the first journal image I made on Earth Day:
You can’t tell what it is, I know. As I did with the bird and my imaginary plant, I drew this first on regular drawing paper. I added gansai after I returned home, then cut and pasted, so that’s why you see all the wrinkles and lines. Doing it this way is very comfortable, but maybe comfortable isn’t the right approach to take with my nature journaling.
But, first things first. What is this? It’s two stumps side by side, and what attracted my attention was how they were overgrown with green — green grasses, green stems of dandelions. I loved the way the long dandelion stems angled all across the stumps.
Here’s what it looks like — from a slightly different angle. I didn’t think to take a photo until after I’d done my sketching and was starting to walk away.
Following this experience with cutting and pasting, I’ve decided that maybe that’s not how I want to do my journal, so I’ve started carrying my journal with me so that I can draw directly on the pages. The pages of the journal are also regular drawing paper, but I’ll skip the “pasting” process that seems to be a bit problematic.
I enjoy doing my sketching with a regular ballpoint pen, and I love adding bits of color with my small gansai set. It doesn’t have a bright, briliant yellow, so in the future I might get out my larger set so that I’ll have a wider range of hues to choose from.
You’ll be seeing more from my nature journals in future posts, and now I’m also intrigued by the idea of doing a “garden” journal, a place where I can draw the herbs I now have growing in their pots, where I can draw and make notes about our strawberry plants, where I can add illustrations of our blackberry bushes, our raspberry bush, and the flowers we’ve planted. Gardening, to me, is simply a somewhat “civilized” form of nature. Cultivated, not wild. Practical, but still very much a part of the natural world.
My journal illustrations aren’t much, I know. I love botanical illustrations, but I don’t have the patience for it. I strive for a limited accuracy, meaning that if a flower has six petals, I’ll draw six petals, and I’ll try to make the leaves the right size and shape. But I won’t pressure myself to show every little bump, every little bruise on a delicate petal, every slight variation in color.
Like the rest of my art, nature journaling is something I want to learn, but which I also want to enjoy. I’m making it part of my ongoing art therapy time and approaching it in a meditative, intuitive way. I am enjoying it, and I’ve glad I’ve finally learned the basics of how to keep — and use — a nature journal.