#InktoberNatureJournal (Week Two)

Here are the prompts for #inktobernaturejournal week two! Remember, the most important thing is to do a little bit every day. Even if you can only squeeze in a 3 minute entry before sleep. That counts!

Day 8: Five Blind Contour Drawings of Bones

Blind contour drawings and bones are a great match. What is a blind contour drawing? It is a great exercise that improves a number of drawing skills. You draw a subject without looking at your drawing and usually without lifting your pen from paper. First, set up your bones far enough away from your drawing where you can not see them. Next, put your pen down and start drawing. Finally, remember that a blind contour should be fast. There is not much use in adding details since you don’t know where you are.

A nature journal page for #inktobernaturejournal showing blind contour drawings of bones and notes and questions.
Look at how I use questions for my thought process and to add more to my page.

What are some aspects of your blind contour that you like? How can you apply these to your regular drawings? What can you learn here?

Day 9: Poisonous or Venomous?

Despite the way most people use these words there is indeed a difference. On the other end of the spectrum from how these words are commonly interchangeable there are people who are sticklers about these words always being used correctly. For #inktobernaturejournal we are less concerned about correctness. In fact, we are not even that concerned with pretty pictures. Instead we are focused on consistency and getting an entry for every day of this challenge! This prompt allows you to do some research, be creative in your interpretation. Maybe there is something in your garden or under your sink that matches the prompt? A “joint comparison” could be a good nature journal technique to employ here?

Day 10: Nocturnal Nature Journaling

Did you know that nature doesn’t stop at night? On the contrary, many things in nature only happen at night. If you are never nature journaling at night you are automatically missing half of nature. And between the equinoxes you are missing more than half! For some tips and inspiration check out this video below.

Day 11: Role Reversal in Nature:

I tried to include some prompts like this that allow for your interpretation and creativity. How will you interpret this one? What are some examples of role reversals in nature? What does that even mean to you? Does it say more about how we categorize the world than it does about the world itself? I look forward to seeing your pages when you post them on instagram with the hashtag #inktobernaturejournal. You can also follow me on instagram and tag me.

Day 12: Animal Tracks

Some of you already know that I am really interested in tracking. I got into tracking even before I knew about nature journaling and drawing tracks was one of the main ways that I rekindled my interest in drawing nature. This was the key revelation that resulted in me learning about nature journaling! Drawing tracks is all about seeing and drawing shadows and degrees of shadow. One great ink tool for this is water soluble pen because you can get discrete black spots and lines but you can also create a wash for graded values. I like the Pilot Precise V5 Black Ink: https://amzn.to/2YAuznU

On this nature journal page you can see an ink drawing of mountain lion tracks and writing describing the track. I used water soluble ink and a pentel brush pen. This is part of the #inktobernaturejournal month long challenge.
You can see where I used the water soluble ink to try to capture the mountain lion tracks in snow from a photo in my tracking book.

These are my preferred water soluble ink pens with black ink. They are what I used in the above drawings. Did you know that I made a book about tracking? You can get a digital version for less than$5. Check it out here. https://www.blurb.com/b/8746087

Day 13: Nature Comic

How do you nature journal an exciting event that you witness? How do you capture that hawk catching a rabbit that you witnessed? There are many tools from the world of comics and graphic story telling that we can adapt to nature journaling. Having some tools and experience will allow you to capture these fascinating and fun moments. I will be interviewing Mark Simmons about this specific topic on October 13th on the Nature Journal Show. Don’t miss it! Subscribe and click the bell under the video in the link to get notifications so you always know when I am going live.

Day 14: Dissection or Cross Section

This is a great way to nature journal at home. It is also a great exercise in visual thinking and communication. The easiest thing to do is take a fruit or vegetable (or mushroom) and sketch it while you cut it up. What are the implications of how you cut it to understanding it? What is the best way to show it? I like using button mushrooms, citrus, tomatoes, cabbage etc. Are you feeling more Leonardo DaVinci? If so, you can apply this type of nature journaling to animals. Level one: nature journal a whole chicken or fish you get from the store as you cut it up. Level two: nature journal a fish you catch, a roadkill animal or a dead bird your cat brings in. Level three: take an anatomy class at your local community college and nature journal during the dissections. nature journal style leonardo davinci

Day 15: Extinct

This one word prompt gives you creative liberty for interpretation. You will probably not be nature journaling from life for this one unless you are looking at fossils or something that is on the verge of extinction. Have fun with this one!


Just getting started with nature journaling?

Need more tips? If so, check out this post. It will walk you through how to nature journal in 10 steps.

Need help choosing nature journaling supplies? Check out Nature Journaling Supplies: What You Need and What You Do Not

How to Draw Old Trees

Right now, I’m going to show you how to draw old trees. Do you remember seeing this tree in my last nature journal in the rain video? Drawing old trees is fun. Especially if you use the crazy ink technique I am about to show you…

How to Draw Old Trees

  • First, find a charismatic old tree that you like.
  • Second, make sure there is a spot the is comfortable to sit. Ideally, find a spot in the shade so your eyes don’t get blasted.
  • Third, choose a drawing approach. I used the stick drawing dip pen technique.
  • Next, give yourself a reasonable goal and stick to it.
  • Take a snack break and walk around to stretch your legs.
  • Push through any self doubt that comes up and stick to your plan.
  • Review your work objectively at the end and remember that quantity is more important than quality.

The stick technique for drawing old trees

Want to try a fun new way of drawing? I did this because I wanted to draw the tree using a stick from the very same tree! This is also probably one of the cheapest art supplies you will ever get. All you need is a container of black ink. I used this sumi ink.

  • First find and carve a stick. I like them if they are not fully dead and about as thick as a pencil. Then I carve a point that is somewhere between a spatula tip and a pencil tip.
  • Second, make sure you have a rag to wipe off the excess ink. This can be a messy process.
  • Lastly, start dipping your pen in the ink and drawing!
  • Try experimenting with different amounts of ink on the stick and using different edges of the piece to make different marks.
Feeling too nervous about this method of drawing trees?

If you are feeling too nervous about this imprecise method in your nature journal then that is probably a good sign that this technique is good for you. Many of us have perfectionist tendencies and hesitancy around mark making that inhibit our art. This manifests itself in drawing less, it also manifests itself in tentative brushstrokes and lines. By practicing with a tool that gives you less control you can train yourself against these negative tendencies. For more work on your mindset check out this post.

Want more nature journaling ideas for old trees?

Above you can see the other video I did on how to nature journal old trees. It was a different tree, a much colder day and I showed you several approaches. In this video I use more of a traditional nature journaling approach including watercolor, zoom in zoom out and more.

Just getting started with nature journaling?

Need more tips? If so, check out this post. It will walk you through how to nature journal in 10 steps.

Need help choosing nature journaling supplies? Check out Nature Journaling Supplies: What You Need and What You Do Not

How to Nature Journal From Your Car

I’m going to show you how to nature journal from your car. A car is an amazing thing. Not only can it move you (and your art supplies) from one place to another but it can also protect you from the elements and keep you safe and maybe inconspicuous. And guess what? There are seats you can sit on built right into your car! Many cars are even equipped with pencil holders, windows that you can see through, sun-protecting roof, and many more comfort features than you can fit in your nature journal bag. It is often possible to park your car in locations with good views of natural areas. This is a good option to practice if you live in an area with harsh weather, if you have mobility limitations, don’t have access, don’t feel safe, or otherwise cannot go out into more “wildernessy” areas.

How to Nature Journal From the Front Seat of Your Car

First, let’s talk about how to nature journal from the driver’s seat. This position has several advantages:

  • Most importantly, you do not have to change positions between driving and drawing. This is very convenient. You can drive right up to a spot and start nature journaling without changing seats or rearranging much in your car.
  • Second, the steering wheel can be useful for balancing your sketchbook or drawing pad.
  • Lastly, the front windshield is probably your best view from your car.
For the full list of tips watch the videos!

How to Nature Journal From Your Car: Hatchback Option

If you have an SUV, Pickup or a Hatchback this could be a good strategy for you. While this strategy requires more setup it also has some cool benefits. First, let’s look at the positive side:

  • First and foremost you can have a larger area for your workspace. This could even include a dedicated setup that you leave installed in the back. For example a portable easel or a desk. This is really good if you are doing larger format paintings in watercolor or even oil paintings.
  • Depending on your model of car you may get a better view from the back than through the front windshield.
  • Third, the hatchback door can serve as a protective overhang and provide shade.
  • Lastly, you might be able to setup a really comfortable chair in the back!


Are you completely new to nature journaling?

If so, then this post has the basics : How to Nature Journal in 10 Steps

Do you need help choosing nature journaling supplies? In that case check out Nature Journaling Supplies: What You Need and What You Do Not

Nature Journaling Questions: A Taxonomy

Nature journaling questions are essential to what we do as nature journalers. However, we are not taught how to ask questions. In fact the dominant society and most schools teach us not to ask too many questions. I’m going to show you how to get better at questions in this video. I will show you a taxonomy of questions I am working on. When you have some categories such as these for questions you will be able to use them better.

I made this video as a followup to my class at International Nature Journaling Week 2021. Want to see that class? You can watch and participate in that class here: https://www.naturejournalingweek.com/marley-peifer-i-wonder  There are a lot of other cool resources and classes from nature journaling week that you can still access there. In addition to my class there are other classes about curiosity and how to use questions in our nature journals.

3 Benefits of Nature Journaling Questions
  1. Questions are gaining in value while knowing things is losing value. This is a major shift of the time period we are living in and the education systems and people’s thinking around this are stuck in the past.
  2.  Only tool for approaching the unknown. In Nature there is a lot of unknown and questions are the only way to dance with that. If we stick to known facts we can’t engage with the unknown. Most nature journalers are not natural history or science experts. Therefore we have many things we don’t understand in nature when we nature journal. Instead of ignoring these we can use questions to grapple with them.
  3. Flexibility of mind. Practicing asking lots of questions keeps your mind flexible. Regardless of whether they are answerable or not. This is helpful for adults and “experts” who tend to get ossified in their thinking.

To see the full taxonomy of questions be sure to watch the video.

Are you new to nature journaling? If so, then this post has the basics : How to Nature Journal in 10 Steps

Do you need help choosing nature journaling supplies? In that case check out Nature Journaling Supplies: What You Need and What You Do Not

All the Nature Journaling Supplies from Wild Wonder Conference 2021

Below you will find all of the supplies from the 2021 nature journaling conference!

I did my best to find links where you can find all the nature journaling supplies. The intention is to have all of these in one place that is easy to look at for peopel who are going to take the classes still (video recordings post conference) or as reminders for people who took the classes during the conference. It will also be useful for people who did not buy tickets but want to know what supplies the different teachers used. I recommend buying directly from the teachers when possible, I have listed their online stores below. I have also included affiliate links to amazon for supplies that are available there. I will get a small percentage from purchases made there. Click on the link after the name of the art supply or book.

The classes are listed in order from the beginning of the conference and by name of teacher. Most of the text is copied from the teachers own writing I have added occasionally (note from Marley) before giving my own words or information.

Melinda Nakagawa “Journaling Marine Wildlife of Monterey Bay”: Journal: Canson XL Mixed Media spiral sketchbook, 7×10 size. https://amzn.to/3jsobra
She also uses: John Muir Laws’ Sketchbook : http://johnmuirlaws.com/product/the-laws-sketchbook-for-nature-journaling/

Platinum Fountain Pen. medium nib. https://amzn.to/3jt2l6Q
(Note from Marley: I am not sure which converter she uses but there are several that could be used to allow you to use the waterproof ink she recommends)
Carbon (waterproof) ink. https://amzn.to/3Aa7QgJ
Pentel Aquash waterbrush, Medium https://amzn.to/2UeZdRr
and Large https://amzn.to/363vJZv
John Muir Laws’ Custom Palette: http://johnmuirlaws.com/product/custom-watercolor-palette/

Wendy Hollender “Botanical Sketchbook on Kraft Paper with Colored Pencils
Pencil Sharpeners:Recommendations to choose from:

Desktop pencil sharpener:some brands are: Muji https://amzn.to/3Aa8zOZ ,CarlAngel-5(Rodahle or Q-Connect

Hand held pencil sharpener: Faber Castell Pencil sharpener in a box. https://amzn.to/3h4VVcu
Graphite pencil. H lead. I like Tombow H pencil. https://amzn.to/2SzfksG
Erasers:Kneaded eraser https://amzn.to/3drGdWU
Tombow Mono round Zero Eraser https://amzn.to/3h7jXUy
Small see thru Ruler for measuring: Westcott See –thru ruler 12 inch https://amzn.to/361jwVj

Colored pencils: Faber-Castell polychromos colored pencils (note from Marley: here is a set that contains most of her colors. Specific colors she mentioned listed below) https://amzn.to/3y6lwrd
●Cadmium Yellow 107●Cadmium Yellow Lemon 205●Pale Geranium Lake 121●Middle Purple Pink 125●Ultramarine 120●Cobalt Turquoise 153●Permanent Green Olive 167●Earth Green Yellowish 168●Earth Green 172●Dark Cadmium Orange 115●Purple Violet 136●Dark Sepia 175●Dark Indigo 157●Chrome Oxide Green 278●Red Violet 194●White 101●Ivory 103●Warm Grey IV 273●Burnt Ochre 187●Venetian Red 190●Light Yellow Ochre 183●Burnt Sienna 283●Madder 142●Olive Green Yellowish 173●Bistre 170●Dark Flesh 130Faber-Castell

Albrecht Durer Watercolour Pencils: https://amzn.to/2U7Ftzk These have the same color names as the Faber Castell polychromos.●Middle Purple Pink 125●Permanent Green Olive 167●Dark Cadmium Orange 115●Pale Geranium Lake 121●Purple Violet 136●Dark Sepia 175●Cadmium Yellow 107●Burnt Sienna 283●White 101●Light Yellow Ochre 183●Warm Gray IV 273●Earth Green 172●Ultramarine 120

Verithin pencils:*Dark Brown https://amzn.to/3qAJbNV , *Black https://amzn.to/2Ua6zFZ *Gray 70% https://amzn.to/2TnPt7o
Prismacolor White Pencil (Note from Marley: this is a 12 pack which is way cheaper than buying one by itself. Split with a friend or nature journal club) https://amzn.to/3jrdAwI

Brushes:Watercolor brushes by Interlon in sizes: 0/3, 0, 6 https://drawbotanical.com/product/interlon-watercolor-brushes/
Or mix of Waterbrushes from Pentel https://amzn.to/3w088ne
Collapsible Water Cup by Faber Castell https://amzn.to/3x8pMGC
Palette for mixing watercolor pencils:A sheet of Dura-Lar matte film https://amzn.to/2Ua7wy3 for use with Albrecht Durer Watercolor Pencils as a mixing palette Or this awesome Caran d’Ache Aquarelle WatercolorPalette https://amzn.to/3Aa873j

Stonehenge Kraft Paper available in pads 9 x 12 inch size or 11 x 14 inch size https://amzn.to/3h1XAzM . I make custom reclosable spiral binding pads that can hold refills of stonehenge kraft paper available at: https://drawbotanical.com/product/custom-hot-press-watercolor-spiral-pad/
Small sheets of tracing paper any kind https://amzn.to/3y8krPW

Embossing Tools for paper Set of 1 -3 small sizes) https://amzn.to/2Te2RLA Frog prong flower holder (optional) Magnifying glass Draftsmen Mini Duster (Brush for wiping away debris) Recommended Text“The Joy of Botanical Drawing”,by Wendy Hollender Art supplies available at: http://www.drawbotanical.com

Amy Schlesser “Doodling Diagrams” No supply list for this class but Amy recommeded this book. “Dear Data” Book: https://amzn.to/3qCygDo This book is also really good on diagrams: https://amzn.to/3qDWOMt

Kristin Antonio “Microscopic Observations of the Natural World”
Portable Carson Micromini Microscope https://amzn.to/3AiUfnl , Phone adapter Clip https://amzn.to/2TfcXvL , foldscope https://www.foldscope.com/

concave slides https://www.carolina.com/microscope-slides-covers/student-quality-concavity-slides/FAM_632970.pr , covers, sample containers

Day 2 of the Nature Journaling Conference

Karen Romano Young “Telling Your Science Stories Visually” Karen did not give a list of supplies but here are some of her books and a great book about visual story telling and comics.

Understanding Comics https://amzn.to/2UbJZgc
Her Books:
Try This https://amzn.to/2ULLxxG , Bug Science, Shark Quest https://amzn.to/3qEn9dl , Doodlebug https://amzn.to/3jvgsc7 , A Girl, a Raccoon and the Midnight Moon https://amzn.to/3w9Snu3

Ryan Petterson “Virtual Fieldtrip: Geology of Death Valley”
Strathmore Visual Journal (mixed media, 9x12in) https://amzn.to/3h4EA3Band a basic ballpoint pen (Bic Cristal, 1.6mm). https://amzn.to/3qAKpc6 “Geology Underfoot in Death Valley” https://amzn.to/3qD5EKf

Mattias Lanas “Field Sketching with Water Soluble Ink”
Pilot Black Razorpoint: https://amzn.to/3weAsCA
Sakura white Gelly roll (assorted sizes): https://amzn.to/3yaOTsx
Sakura water brush (3 sizes): https://amzn.to/3jtHlgi

Roseannn Hanson “Watercolor Made Simple!”
Paint (I do sell the Minimalist Paint Kit https://www.exploringoverland.com/shop/minimalist-paint-kit I demonstrate with, but you can also compile your own. Yellow: a neutral, transparent, non-staining (“lifting”) yellow. My favorite is Cobalt Yellow aka Aureolin (PY40). https://amzn.to/3jv4xL7 Will also work: Hansa Yellow. https://amzn.to/365RzvI You don’t want a really warm yellow such as Quinacridone gold. Magenta: a cool, transparent, non-staining (“lifting”) magenta. My favorite is Quinacridone Rose (PV19) https://amzn.to/3jyTO2m . Will also work: Quinacridone Magenta https://amzn.to/2Tlo3iw . Note: you don’t want a red. Red is not a primary color!Cyan: a cool, transparent, non-staining (“lifting”) blue. My favorite is Manganese Blue Hue (PB15)https://amzn.to/2UjihhO . Will also work: Cerulean (PB35) https://amzn.to/3jx5vXo or Manganese Blue by Old Holland (PB33).Burn Sienna: https://amzn.to/2UWPcJd I like Daniel Smith but any will do. Indanthrone Blue: a warm, transparent dark blue (PB60)https://amzn.to/3AfMAGx . Tools Paint brush (any round-style will do) or water brushWater container (if not using water brush)Micro-fibre cloth or paper towels or old towel PLUS some kleenex Watercolor paper (loose or in notebook), minimum 90-pound weight. Cold-pressed is probably best for beginners. Strathmore 400 series 9X12 90lb cold press https://amzn.to/2UWPsIb Several squares of waxed paper for a fun way to do quick “resists” and a dull pencil to do the transfer

Day 3 of the Nature Journaling Conference

Emilie Lygren “Writing our Way to Wonder: Creating Poetry from Journal Entries” Emilie did not require any special materials but you can find her book of poetry here https://emilielygren.com/books-broadsides/

Carol and Margaret Mackie “Making Your Own Journal: Easy Small Books for Nature Journaling” This awesome class had a very simple supply list you probably have at home. You can also check out their etsy shop http://ArtcrossingsStudio.etsy.com

  •  7 sheets of printer paper
  • · scrap paper
  • · glue stick
  • · scissors
  • · pencil
  • · old credit card


Liz Clayton Fuller “Quick Bird Studies in Gouache”
Stillman and Birn Nova Series Tricolor Sketchbook, cool grey toned paper, 7×10”https://amzn.to/3jrsh2V

–  Size 8 Flat Brush (for laying down large areas of color) https://amzn.to/2TewjB7
Size 4 Round Brush https://amzn.to/3h4isGCSize 1 Round Brush (for detail and texture) https://amzn.to/3A8PIns

–  Ceramic palette for color mixing (any palette will do!) https://amzn.to/2TferGj
Airtight palette (note from Marley: Liz did not mention this in her list but I think this is the palette she uses to store her paints. I put my gouache into a regular palette and it totally dried out and crumbled. During here class I saw that she was using two palettes, an airtight one for keeping the colors and another one for mixing. I’m pretty sure this is the airtight one she was using: https://amzn.to/2TmUTQc

–  Small spray bottle for keeping gouache moist https://arttoolkit.com/products/pocket-mister/ use promo code marley15 to get 15% off before July!
Two cups of water, one for clean water and one for rinsing brushes https://arttoolkit.com/products/x-shot-collapsible-water-cup/use promo code marley15
(note from Marley: Below are the colors she has in her palette (bold colors were used in the class. I did not put links to each color tube individually but there is a palette that is similar: Holbein Set of 24 5ml tubes https://amzn.to/3h5Hnte 
–  1st row: Ivory Black https://amzn.to/3ybMQVe
Zinc White, Terre Verte, Emerald Green, Permanent Green Deep, Cobalt Blue, Peacock Blue, Primary Cyan
–  2nd row: Raw Umber, Chinese Orange, Flame Red, Alizarin Crimson, Opera Pink, Violet, Ultra-marine deep, Primary Magenta
–  3rd row: Burnt Umber, Burnt Sienna, Permanent Yellow Orange, Yellow Ochre, Naples Yellow, Permanent Yellow, Lemon Yellow, Primary Yellow

Erica Stephens ” Journaling the Jurassic: A Fossil Fieldtrip”
* Pencil & eraser (kneaded eraser)
* Journal – preferably with connected pages in the middle (The Laws Sketchbook for Nature Journaling) http://johnmuirlaws.com/product/the-laws-sketchbook-for-nature-journaling/
* Watercolors (Koi Watercolor Pocket Field Sketch Box, comes with water brush)https://amzn.to/2TluK48
* A few different colors of gel pens, colored pencils &/or markers for the metadata (Artwerk gel pen set w/refills)(note from Marley: I spent a while trying to figure out which gel pens she is using, I could not find a brand called Artwerk but these gel pens seem to have a case with that name on them.  https://amzn.to/3y7NX8k https://amzn.to/3yaX4Ff 

Optional: Curiosity ..and love of dinosaurs! (note from Marley: I could not find where to get either of these online, supply your own.

Richard Louv Keynote Speaker

Richard did not mention any supplies but here are some of his books.
“Last child in the woods” https://amzn.to/3hp1wcG
“The Nature Principle” https://amzn.to/3y4xzp0

Day 4 of the Nature Journaling Conference

Painting Shiny Bugs Class with John Muir Laws
Big hat: Jack Recommends going to a garden store and picking the biggest brimmed hat that you can find. He recommends foldable synthetic type hats for durability, packability and longevity. Here is an example from the company Columbia: https://amzn.to/3x8CPI

All of these supplies are available on his website store: http://johnmuirlaws.com/store/
Black Grape Prismacolor Pencil
Non Photo blue Pencil
Aquash Waterbrush
Blue Pencil he used for highlights (not sure what color but it was probably Prismacolor brand

Permanent White Gouache he uses, available if you buy his complete palette or you can just get the gouache here: https://amzn.to/3hp2CVQ

His Palette from his website: http://johnmuirlaws.com/product/custom-watercolor-palette/
Or the individual colors he used in the class
Pthalo Yellow Green https://amzn.to/3jvy47B
Pthalo Blue https://amzn.to/2TmYsG4
Hansa Yellow Light https://amzn.to/3x91ZXc
Quinacridone Gold https://amzn.to/2SBJLOW
Winsor Violet https://amzn.to/3wd81od

Mike Rohde “Creative Lettering for Your Nature Journal”
The Sketchnote Handbook: https://amzn.to/3y8PkDz
The Sketchnote Workbook: https://amzn.to/3hk4hMt
Gel pen or felt tip pen, medium (0.5 or 0.7mm is ideal) black Paper Mate Flair (his favorite pen) 12 pack of black : https://amzn.to/3qGnEUm
Gel or felt tip pen, medium, your favorite color – mine is teal: Sakura Gelly Roll 5 colors including teal, pink, purple, blue, magenta .6 mm https://amzn.to/3qEwAcw
Paper mate flair (his favorite pen) 24 Color pack: https://amzn.to/361uY3e

Mark Simmons “Cartooning Techniques for Journaling”
– Sakura Pigma Microns (I like the chunky 08 size) https://amzn.to/3h6ky8Q
– Zebra Brush Pens (sometimes found under the “Zebra Zensations” brand) Variety pack with 4 types. https://amzn.to/3qDPXCF
– white gel pens and Liquid Paper correction pens for highlights and touchup https://amzn.to/3wbKUdM
(Marley prefers: Jumbo Correction pen for large https://amzn.to/3hmgdxgand Uniball Signo for Fine: Uni-ball Signo White Gel Pen: https://amzn.to/3yOAzXV
– Pentel Aquash Water Brush: Pentel Waterbrush Large: https://amzn.to/3v0gLyb
Art alternatives 11X17 Sketchbook: https://www.joann.com/art-alternatives-hard-bound-sketch-book-11in-x-8in-landscape/17639303.html
Understanding Comics book: https://amzn.to/2UbJZgc

Amy Tan “Backyard Chronicles”

(Note from Marley: No special nature journaling supplies are needed for her class but Amy did give this list of her favorite tools and books)

Favorite equipment
For in the field:

  • Custom Nature Journal Bag and Laws Sketchbook (both available in John  Muir Laws’ store: https://johnmuirlaws.com/store/
  • mechanical pencils:   .5 HB,   .5 4B,  .7 HB,  .7 2B,  Pentel Twist-Erase Click Mechanical Pencil:https://amzn.to/3mUxOid
  • selection of  Faber-Castell colored pencils stored in a small plastic case
  • sharpener,  kneaded eraser, smudge stick,  measuring tape, magnifying glass and small binder clips, stored in a pencil pouch

For journaling and sketching The Backyard Chronicles at home:

  • Fiorentina journal refills,  unlined,   7 x 10. (6.25” x 9.5”), 288 pages  (I use my own covers)  (note from Marley: this is the closest thing I could find to to the paper she mentions: https://amzn.to/3h7jp0G )
  • mechanical pencils:   .5 HB,   .5 4B,  .7 HB,  .7 2B
  • Prismacolor colored pencils

For detailed bird drawings:

Bethan Burton “Skyscapitos: Mastering Cloud Shapes and Sky Colors
Arches watercolor paper Arches 300gsm cold pressed watercolour paper: https://amzn.to/2UiUluA (note from Marley…this paper is expensive but has a big effect on your results. I used my normal nature journal paper and some of the techniques that Bethan demonstrated did not work)
Washi tape or masking tape: https://amzn.to/3625eUv
Masking fluid: https://amzn.to/3y9Lfz1
Staedtler Lumicolor permanent pencil: https://amzn.to/3dxAO0p (note from Marley. I’m not totally sure this is the kind of pencil that she mentioned.)

Watercolor: (note from Marley: Bethan mentioned using any watercolor you have. I recommend Daniel Smith and have provided links to those examples of the colors she mentions) lighter blues (such as cerulean, cobalt, ultramarine, manganese and pthalo) to achieve a convincing sky colour. We will also talk about darker blues (such as indigo, prussian or indanthrone blue)

Brushes: two flat brushes (6 mm ~#0 https://amzn.to/2UQjahT and 15 mm ~14# https://amzn.to/3js94OA ) for making washes and a round brush (size 6) for adding detail https://amzn.to/3hrfqev

Dr J. Drew Lanham Keynote Speaker
Some books by him
“The Home Place: Memoirs of a Colored Man’s Love Affair with Nature” https://amzn.to/3dvVXrE (audiobook) Hardcover: https://amzn.to/364Y2H2
“Sparrow Envy” https://amzn.to/367MyTj

Day 5 of the Nature Journaling Conference

Vitor Velez “Even the Sky is Not the Limit: Creative Layouts”
Supplies coloring pencils from Faber-Castell(polychromos series): .Cold Grey IV.Black.Walnut Brown.Dark Phthalo Green. Here is a set that contains his colors and more. https://amzn.to/3qEPdgt

Sterre Verbokkem: “Working with Toned Paper in Black and White
Strathmore Toned Paper: https://amzn.to/3w3dcr3
Bic Mechanical Pencil. HB or 2B
Black ink https://amzn.to/3dxzASN or very dark watercolour too https://amzn.to/2SBRUTw . Water brush https://amzn.to/3v0gLyb.
Fineliner pens. https://amzn.to/3663Y2K
Faber Castell white charcoal pencil (note from Marley: this pencil is the most essential tool to getting that uniqie style that makes Sterre’s work stand out. https://amzn.to/3dxHOdH
Grey posca marker https://amzn.to/3663lWE

Robin Carlson “Lively and Expressive Field Sketching in Brush Pen and Watercolor”
Fude Demanen Fountain Pen: https://amzn.to/2QBCJby
Pentel Pocket Brush: https://amzn.to/3w7EjRL
Kuretake Fude pen #8: https://amzn.to/3juL1hW
Pentel Waterbrush Large (used with ink): https://amzn.to/3v0gLyb
Carbon ink https://amzn.to/3dxzASN
Aquash gray https://amzn.to/2SHQXcy

Kim McNett “Virtual Fieldtrip: Coastal Alaska”
Dry bags sea to summit : https://amzn.to/3dyyHcS
Prismacolor non-photo blue pencil https://amzn.to/2Uaduz0
Pentel Mechanical Pencil size 0.5 : https://amzn.to/3mUxOid
Micron Pens 01, 03 and05 https://amzn.to/3663Y2K
Clear Pocket Ruler https://amzn.to/3yb6IYt
Pentel Waterbrush Large: https://amzn.to/3v0gLyb
WatercolorPaper(coldpress#140) https://amzn.to/3dwE7Fc
Watercolors:-UltramarineBlue(MGraham) https://amzn.to/3hkMB3n -CobaltBlue(MGraham) https://amzn.to/3AdIBKt -CeruleanBlue(MGraham) https://amzn.to/3jwphCy -CobaltTeal(MGraham)https://amzn.to/3AiCuEE -PermanentAlizarinCrimson(MGraham)https://amzn.to/3x81EUA -QuinacridoneRose(DanielSmith)https://amzn.to/2U8WXvb -BurntSienna(MGraham)https://amzn.to/3666Mg1

Kate Rutter “The Sense-Ational Nature Journal”
Fudenosuke Brush Pen from Tombow. https://amzn.to/3w6gHN9

Birding Homework (live episode)

Do you ever give yourself nature journaling homework?  In this live episode of the Nature Journal Show, Marley shows us how to use birding homework to make us better nature journalers.  Follow along!  You will need: your nature journal, a writing utensil of your choice, a bird guide book, and your computer.

“Whether you’re in the field learning or at home learning – the nature journal is the perfect place to make your learning so much easier, your work so much better, and improve your memory so much more.”

Marley comes prepared with an agenda:
  1. First, he sets up his page so his information stays organized.

    Marley sets up his Sparrow Study
    Marley sets up his page for the sparrow study, using a grid to separate and organize the information for each species.
  2. Second, he uses the bird guide to draw quick sketches of the birds he wants to study.  Marley’s tools of choice:  Pilot Futayaku gray and black brush pen (his favorite!). Tombow brush pen in pale gray.  Pentel waterbrush size large. John Muir Laws’s custom watercolor palette.
  3. Third, he reads the descriptions in the bird guide and adds notes to his journal.  Here, Marley references the Peterson Field Guide to Birds of Western North America.
  4. Fourth, he listens to the birds’ songs on Dendroica and creates a sonogram of what he hears.
Marley uses Petersons for his Sparrow Study
Marley uses a bird guide book to find and write characteristics and details about the sparrows in his birding homework.

Why do homework this way?

Why not simply read about the birds in the guides or on a website?  What purpose does it serve to write all of this down when it’s not even your own field notes?  Marley has an answer for this: by writing down the information and interpreting it into your own way of thinking, you remember it better.  This is not busywork – you are training your brain to remember these details so they will serve you when you are out in the field.

Marley notes that it’s important to write down your sources for this information: “Think of it as your metadata!”  It is OK to copy from the book as long as you are not selling your work – but you should always credit your sources.  That way, if you need to revisit or modify the information, or if someone else wants to study it too, you know where it originally came from.

Using Dendroica's spectrogram
Marley uses Dendroica’s spectrogram feature to help him “see” the birdsong

A few extra tips

  • When you’re doing your birding homework, don’t worry about making your drawings perfect.  This is practice, and getting hung up on perfection might make it harder for you to complete the exercises.
  • Some birds, such as sparrows, have different dialects depending on where they are from. For example, a white-crowned sparrow from your area might sound very different from a white-crowned sparrow who lives somewhere else, so try to find a song sample that’s from your region.  If you can’t, try listening to multiple song samples from different areas and seeing where the similarities in them fall.
  • Use “it reminds me of” when you are listening to bird songs.  You can liken a particular note of the song to an instrument, or even to words.  Many birders hear phrases inside the songs that help them to remember their rhythm and cadence.
  • Listen to the song more than once.  Really slow down, and use the spectrogram to help you “see” the song.
  • Drink coffee.
birding homework sparrow study
The birding homework is done! For today…

Now that you’ve done your birding homework, go out into the field and try to use what you’ve learned!  You can always go back and add notes when you’ve learned something new, or do more birding homework to further improve your skills.  Interspersing homework with field study might just be the way to go.  Don’t forget your binoculars!


To meet another nature journaler who is also a birder, check out Marley’s interview with Christina Baal.

Are you new to nature journaling? If so, then this post has the basics : How to Nature Journal in 10 Steps

Do you need help choosing nature journaling supplies? In that case check out Nature Journaling Supplies: What You Need and What You Do Not

How to Nature Journal a Collection

Right now, I’m going to show you how to nature journal using the “collection” technique. This is one of the basic nature journaling approaches. You can use it even if you are just getting started with nature journals. Experienced nature journalers will also benefit from this technique.

The basic idea is simple. You are out walking in a nearby park. You brought your nature journal but don’t know where to start. There are birds everywhere, there are wildflowers, and you also notice tons of lichen on the trees. “This is kind of overwhelming!” You think to yourself.  “I only have 20 minutes for nature journaling.” What should you do?

How to Nature Journal a Collection

  • First, you need to choose the category for your collection. The category can be taxonomical, such as plants in the sunflower family (asteraceae), or a collection of warblers. The category could also be “things growing on other things.” In this case you would “collect” lichens, mosses, epiphytes, or fungus.
  • Second, think about your page organization. Do you want to divide your paper up into squares right away? How do you want to organize the individual subjects of your collection?
  • Third, think about how much time you have and how in depth you want to get with each subject of your collection. If you start off putting in a ton of information and details with the first few subjects and then simplify dramatically with the last few it will look bad.
  • Fourth, start drawing and nature journaling the individual subjects. Use words, images, and numbers for each one. Try to keep a consistent style to facilitate comparison and make the collection look better.
Examples of Nature Journal “Collections”
An example of a nature journal collection with birds for how to nature journal a collection
A nature journal collection by Paula Peeters quickly captures bird species that she heard during her nature journaling session in Australia.
A nature journal collection showing different species of mushrooms
A nature journal collection with 10 different mushrooms collected over the course of an hour. Marley Peifer’s nature journal.
Just getting started with nature journaling?

Need more tips? check out this post. It will walk you through how to nature journal in 10 steps.

Need help choosing nature journaling supplies? Check out Nature Journaling Supplies: What You Need and What You Do Not

How To Nature Journal Biocultural Diversity: Mariia Ermilova Terada

Mariia Ermilova Terada shows us how to nature journal biocultural diversity. Not only does she nature journal in three languages but she also incorporates the human-nature connection into her pages. In contrast, most nature journalers today omit this relationship. For example, I often choose nature subjects where I cannot see the human interaction. I frequently exclude hikers, benches, telephone poles from my landscape paintings. Another example is that I rarely nature journal my garden, my salad, or the other aspects of nature my life is directly dependent on.

In addition, we talk about Mariia’s studies, her love of frogs, fabric arts, and the role nature journaling can play in making the world a better place. Don’t miss the lightning round!

How to Nature Journal Your Breakfast

Did you nature journal the plants and animals that you ate for breakfast today? What about the plants or animals that made your clothes? Have you ever included the indigenous names for plants or animals on your page? If nature journaling is supposed to connect us more to nature why do we often avoid the subjects we are most closely connected to?

How to nature journal biocultural diversity

In the above example we can see how Mariia applies nature journaling to an everyday scene. Her neighbor caught a fish and is cooking it. This nature journal page captures that subsistence relationship. In addition she gives the name of the fish in three languages and points out how it is an invasive species. The combination of comic, recipe, and species profile give this page a biocultural significance. how to nature journal biocultural diversityIn contrast, Mariia could have just nature journaled a random butterfly. “What’s wrong with nature journaling a random butterfly?” In fact, there is nothing wrong with choosing a subject just because of an aesthetic interest. But let’s be self aware. Why don’t we nature journal what we eat?

how to nature journal biocultural diversity
How to Nature Journal Biocultural Diversity
  1. First, be curious about local traditional knowledge about nature in the area where you are. What culture has been living there? What was their relationship to the plants and animals and landscapes you are drawing? Is there a way you can recognize and incorporate some of that into your journal? However, be aware of the issue of cultural appropriation.
  2. Second, be curious about cultural context. Even the magnolia in your garden, the chicken in your soup, or your house cat have a cultural how to nature journal biocultural diversitycontext. Even a quick search on google could find some cool background. What if you included a map, names in other languages, or historic references next to that sketch of your feline or flower?
  3. Finally, what are some biocultural connections from your own life? You can also try to nature journal some of the aspects of your own life that are connected to nature. What plants, animals, fungi, minerals etc do you relate to on a daily basis?

See more of Mariia’s work: https://taplink.cc/mariia_ermilova_terada

Just getting started with nature journaling?

Need more tips? If so, check out this post. It will walk you through how to nature journal in 10 steps.

Need help choosing nature journaling supplies? Check out Nature Journaling Supplies: What You Need and What You Do Not

How to Nature Journal Old Trees

Drawing old trees is one of my favorites! I’m gonna show you how to nature journal old trees; in this case a charismatic old oak tree. I’ll use ink, watercolor, and graphite pencil to draw a portrait of the tree, sketch the basic scene, illustrate leaves, and depict some of the moss. I will also talk about other nature journaling techniques and watercolor tips.

It was a cold January day in the mountains of Northern California. The weather forecast predicted snow later that day. Despite the cold and my low energy I knew this was my only chance. Because if it snowed I would be stuck up here and unable to get home to edit this video for you.

It’s at times like these where you need a system.

How to Nature Journal Old Trees in  5 Steps
  1. Firstly, start with metadata. Always start with metadata: location, date, time, weather, etc
  2. Next, simplify the complex. Old trees fascinate us partly because of their complexity. You need to simplify or you will be overwhelmed. Starting with thumbnails and using a viewfinder will help enormously.
  3. Third, prioritize value relationships over color. Value is the difference between light and dark. This is one of the main visual priorities. For more about value see this post by John Muir Laws called “Color gets all the credit: Value does all the work.”
  4. Next, zoom in on details. What are some details you can add? Try drawing the leaves, the flowers, the seeds.
  5. Lastly, don’t settle with just a portrait. It is very fun to paint the portrait of a tree. However, by itself this is not nature journaling. Try to incorporate some notes, some measurements, some contextual information or diagrams. Did any birds visit? What does the bark look like closeup? Adding these perspectives will enrich your page and your experience.
Some of the Supplies I Used on This Trip
Just getting started with nature journaling?

Need more tips? If so, check out this post. It will walk you through how to nature journal in 10 steps.

Need help choosing nature journaling supplies? Check out Nature Journaling Supplies: What You Need and What You Do Not

How To Nature Journal From Your Window!

Do you know how to nature journal from your window? This nature journaling technique is useful on cold, snowy, or rainy days. It is also useful during global pandemics or if you can not get outside for other reasons.

Do you ever not feel motivated to nature journal? Do you ever feel down in the winter? I feel those things too despite what you might think from my video persona.  Luckily, nature journaling makes me feel better regardless of how low energy or depressed I’m feeling. I didn’t want to make this live episode. I had a lot of self doubt about whether I had the right “energy” to nature journal. That’s why I started and ended with a gratitude exercise. Because your mindset is the foundation of your nature journaling and your life.

How to Nature Journal From Your Window in 3 Steps
  1. Set the Stage: You want to do this more than once. Therefore you need to find a good location.
    1. First, it should be convenient. A gorgeous view is nice but if you are teetering at the top of a stairwell it is not worth it. Also consider your family movements. Where will you be disturbed the least? The less energy to initiate a session the better. If you have to move a ton of furniture each time forget it.
    2. Second, it should be consistent. This way you get into a habit more easily.
    3. Last, consider the view. Is there a variety of stuff to see?
  2. Set Your Expectations: Ok, maybe this should have been first. Create realistic expectations and clarify your goals around nature journaling from the window. I strongly recommend input based goals not output based goals. For example, “I will nature journal from my window for 15 minutes every day.” In contrast “I will paint a pretty sunset in watercolor every day.”Which of these goals is more achievable?
Just getting started with nature journaling?

Need more tips? If so, check out this post. It will walk you through how to nature journal in 10 steps.

Need help choosing nature journaling supplies? Check out Nature Journaling Supplies: What You Need and What You Do Not