Nature journaling is a wonderful intersection of art and science, an activity that encourages you to get curious and connect to the world around you, and a way to build memories of a place or experience.
How do I start?
You can start with something as simple as a blank sheet of paper and a pencil, or a mixed media sketchbook and watercolors. Part of the fun is experimenting with different materials and supplies! What works for one person may not work for another.
Some things to consider when you are selecting your materials:
- Where will you be sketching? If you'll be hiking, you may want to choose to take fewer supplies -- perhaps a travel palette, pocket sketchbook, and water brush. If you'll be working in your own backyard, you might choose larger sketchbooks or a full set of colored pencils.
- What types of materials do you prefer? If you enjoy adding watercolor, you might use pencil or water-resistant inks and use a sketchbook with thicker paper. If you plan to stick with colored pencils or crayon, you can use a lighter paper.
- How will I carry them? A sketcher with fewer tools may be able to take a waist pack, while others may prefer carrying a crossbody bag or backpack -- although with a backpack, consider that it's harder to grab your materials on the go.
Finally, you'll want to ask yourself a very important question. Are you enjoying the process? If you find yourself feeling uninspired or struggling to finish a sketch, think about why that might be. Is there another subject that is more interesting? Was the hike more strenuous than you expected? Is it time for a trail snack or a sip from your water bottle? It's easy to get caught up in the activity and forget to sustain yourself. Chalk this one up to experience and think about what you might change the next time you set out to sketch. Remember, it's much more about the process than the product. Any time spent with your thoughts in nature is worthwhile.
- Attend our Nature Journaling workshop on Sunday, June 11 at Rinconada Library! Poet Mary Oliver, opens a new window's advice for life is to "pay attention, be astonished, and tell about it" -- perfectly apt for our summer theme, "Share Your Story", and the practice of nature journaling!
- Browse our book list to find more inspiration!
- Want to venture beyond your backyard on a larger nature journaling excursion? Get a free Foothills Nature Preserve day pass or borrow a California State Park Pass!
- Another alternative is sketching at area zoos or natural history museums. Find attractions and get free passes through Discover & Go!
- View incredible large-scale watercolors done in the field at The Foster Museum in Palo Alto. Artist Tony Foster travels around the world and creates amazing paintings on-site. You can see not only his works, but some of the tools he carried to create them. Free admission by appointment.
- John Muir Laws is a premier artist and author who, through the Wild Wonder Foundation, has popularized nature journaling and provides video tutorials and live classes.