Native Plants Restoration and Nature Journaling

Native plants restoration and other types of habitat and ecological restoration are essential work these days.  Like humans, plants and other animals need homes to live in – homes that are being degraded worldwide at an alarming rate.  In this conversation, Marley and I talk about how nature journaling can be combined with plant restoration practices and activities, using restoration sites in the Presidio of San Francisco as examples.

What is native plants restoration, and why do we do it?

Native plants restoration means: helping a wild habitat recover that human activities have previously degraded.  Plants are often the ecosystem architects that create homes for animals and other life.  Without these plants, creatures like birds, insects, mammals, reptiles and many others will not have homes and are not able to survive.  This loss of habitat, or home, is the greatest cause of species dying out all over the world.

Native plants often support a very particular group of creatures and relationships, ones that cannot be found in other places.  Introduced plants seldom have all of the complex interrelations a native plant has with those many creatures.  So by restoring a damaged environment with native plants, humans are helping that ecosystem to: 1) find and maintain balance, 2) preserve the diversity of different species in that area, and 3) increase everyone’s collective health.

Native plants restoration work can involve many tasks, such as reshaping the area to be restored (sometimes with heavy machinery!), raising and planting native plants, weeding out introduced or invasive species, seed harvesting, pruning, ongoing monitoring, picking up trash, and education.

yvearestorationpage
Recording which native plants are flowering can help get a better picture of the field, as well as give us data to use next year.

Why should we nature journal our native plants restoration work?

Now native plants restoration is well and good, but you might be wondering – why should we journal about it?  Wouldn’t it be more efficient to put 100% of our focus into getting the work done, instead of sitting around writing about it?  While the restoration work is the priority when we are in the field, writing down our work can be an important part of the process.

Here are 6 reasons we should nature journal our native plants restoration work:

  1. We are changing that particular ecosystem with our work.  In the same way that as nature journalers we like to observe nature’s changes, it’s important to document the effects we have on the environment.
  2. By documenting what we are doing, we make it possible for others to follow in our footsteps.  If someone else wants to do this type of work, or wants to join you, they can see from your field journal what to do.
  3. It opens up our thinking.  If we write down questions that come up or observations or thoughts, we invest more in the habitat we are restoring.
  4. By writing down what we did, we can go back later and modify our process.  We might discover a more efficient way of doing something, or notice a consideration we had not had before.
  5. The work we do is important, so it’s important to validate that.
  6. By writing it down, we regenerate our excitement.  We fall in love even more with the habitat and our work, and it enables us to take a little of the magic of the field home with us.
Any drawing can be made into a diagram. Diagrams help us label details and highlight important information.

How can you be prepared when you’re going out to do fieldwork?

Now, onto the logistics.  How do you juggle doing the work and nature journaling about it when you’re in the field?

First of all, it’s important to prioritize your field work.  That means you won’t get as much time to do nature journaling, so plan for a shorter session.  That doesn’t mean you can’t set aside some times for a longer session or even continue entries once you’ve get home, but it does mean you have to be really sharp about what you do with your journal while you are in the field.

Second of all, pack light.  You’re essentially carrying two different kits with you: your restoration toolkit and your nature journaling toolkit.  You might have tools, such as a pick mattock or a shovel or a clipboard, in addition to protective layers, basic first aid materials, and sustenance.  With your nature journaling kit, carry minimal supplies: your journal itself, a couple of writing utensils, and a very small selection of colors if you choose.

Third, try to come up with a standard reporting format. Choose the things you think are most important to record when you’re out in the field.  I tend to choose the following three basics: metadata, what our goal or objective was, and what we got done/the result.  By being consistent about what you record, you prevent yourself from getting overwhelmed, as well as build a better habit of using your journal in the field instead of entrusting everything to memory for when you get home.  It also makes it easier to add more notes, such as wildlife observations, if you have already started your journal page.

To learn more tips, please watch my interview with Marley, as well as my workshop on tips and techniques for nature journaling our field work. Hope to see you out there!

no_canopy_for_you
You are part of the story! Adding yourself in comic form to your nature journal can give your notes more of an intimate feeling.

You can learn more from Yvea on her channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/MovingFlash415
And on her instagram: www.instagram.com/yveaeaton

Want to learn more about the intersection between nature journaling and restoring our connection to the land through stories? Check out this upcoming class with Rebecca Rolnick: https://johnmuirlaws.com/event/nature-journaling-for-ecological-re-story-ation/2021-09-27/

More info about rare and endangered plants in the Presidio: https://www.nps.gov/prsf/learn/nature/rare-and-endangered-plants.htm

You can learn more about California native plants in general at: https://www.cnps.org/

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

Nature Journaling Ecosystem Change with Robin Carlson

Do you have the consistency to go to the same place again and again and observe how it changes?  What will you notice as you watch a place change over time?  Let Robin Carlson inspire you – she has been nature journaling ecosystem change at Stebbins Cold Canyon, a place that has been twice burned by wildfires in recent years.

Robin Carlson journal page 1

A Landscape Affected by Wildfire

In this interview with Marley, Robin Carlson talks about how she began this longterm project of observing and documenting Stebbins Cold Canyon and how this area responds to wildfire.  Robin notes that she has always been interested in the time component of life; previously she studied developmental and evolutionary biology.  Though she had never experienced wildfire directly before, she wanted to see the rapid changes wildfire causes.  She chose to begin visiting Stebbins Cold Canyon at least once a month because it is close to where she lives.

Stebbins Cold Canyon has burned twice in recent years – once in 2015, and again in 2020.  At the end of the 5 year gap and just before the second burn, Robin had noticed that things had begun to slow down in terns of ecosystem change, though change never really stops.  Robin notes that even “staying the same” requires an active process:

“Things have to work to stay the same.”

Robin Carlson journal spread

What kinds of tools do we use When nature journaling ecosystem change?

In terms of physical tools, Robin’s preferred supplies are her Kuretake brush pen (with permanent black ink) and Pentel brush pen (with permanent grey ink) to use for shadows.  She finds them useful for both quick sketches and for building more complex illustrations.  Robin has a strong belief that the initial sketch she makes is the most important, because it has the rawest and most complete impressions in them.

In terms of mental tools, it comes down to observation skills, consistency, and – adding those two together – experience.

Robin’s goal was (and still is) to get to know a specific place – to get to know the plants, animals, fungi who grow there on a deeper level.  As such, when she began her longterm exploration, her questions were a lot more general:

“What does it look like?  What questions does this generate?  What am I seeing?”  

Her questions became more targeted over time; now she notices which trees might have died or which have been regrowing, and where the regrowth has been happening.

Robin Carlson journal2

What changes and what stays the same?

Robin has noticed that green regrowth comes up almost immediately after a wildfire.  This leads her to believe there must be a LOT more water in the ecosystem than it would appear, even during summer droughts.  Perhaps there are water sources hidden in the burls, in the roots, stored in the materials of the plants both above and below ground, and deeper in the soil.

The creek had just enough water in it that it did not burn, and this was readily apparent by the flowers that continued to bloom there.  The hummingbirds in particular were quite happy.  Speaking of flowers, in other parts of the canyon, Robin noticed a species called “whispering bells”.  To Robin’s knowledge, this wildflower had not bloomed in those parts in over 30 years.  Perhaps the seeds had lain dormant in the seedbank until the fires activated them, or perhaps it was some other process that led to their resurgence.

An onsite sign and a donation collections jar stayed the same and did not burn away, though the sign needed a new post.

Some trees died and stayed dead, while others resprouted from the most unlikeliest of places.  Bees returned.

You might imagine it would get boring to return to the same place again and again – but Robin assures that she has NOT gotten bored nor run out of things to observe.  No matter how much change might appear to slow down, it still looks like a new world to her each time she goes.

 

To learn more about Robin Carlson, please visit her website: https://robinleecarlson.com

To learn about another wildfire nature journaler (one who inspired Robin!), check out Marley’s interview with Miriam Morrill here.

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

East Bay Nature Journal Club with Erica Stephens

Erica Stephens is a Naturalist, Nature Journaler, Educator and the founder of Naturalist Nest and the East Bay Nature Journal Club! In this LIVE show we discussed the East Bay Regional Parks where she works, other national parks where she has nature journaled, nature journaling the Jurassic, and how she got started with nature journaling. Erica was also one of the teachers at the Wild Wonder Nature Journaling Conference where she taught a class on nature journaling the Jurassic!

East Bay Nature Journal Club

The East Bay is the most populous area in the San Francisco Bay area. It also contains some fascinating nature and a lot of biodiversity. Sounds like a great combination for a thriving nature journal club. Do you live in Oakland, Berkeley, Alameda, Concord, Emeryville, Fremont, Livermore, Pleasanton, San Ramon or Walnut Creek? If so, this nature journal club that Erica has started will have meetups in your area. The best place to stay informed about this group and join one of their outings is by visiting their facebook group.  If you are not on facebook you can contact Erica directly through her website and see her calendar of events https://www.naturalistnest.com/

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

Nature Journaling Australia: LIVE with Paula Peeters

What makes nature journaling in Australia so different from everywhere else? Find out from Paula Peeters, a nature journaler, teacher, writer, scientist, and conservationist from Australia.  In this episode of the Nature Journal Show, Marley interviews Paula about her books, different ways of describing a place, the ideal nature journal outing, resources for Aussie nature journalers, and what makes nature journaling Australia so special.

How do you describe a place?

If you’re Paula Peeters, you use a diversity of different ways to describe a place.  Sometimes she goes for in-depth drawings that focus on details and take time to complete.  Other times, Paula might opt for a cartoon – it’s easier to capture details quickly when you’re cartooning.  Both approaches are very useful, depending on what Paula is after in her nature journaling session.

Paula birds cartoon
Here, Paula uses a cartoon approach so she can capture the diversity of birds she sees quickly. This helps her draw multiple birds and take down more information than if she had focused on getting one perfect in-depth drawing.

A particularly ingenious way of describing the complexity of a place is with a “folding forest” – Paula creates pages with lifting flaps and expanding backgrounds, so you can see what’s going on in the skies above and the earth below a particular ecosystem.  Using such a variety of ways to show information can help deepen your understanding of that place, as well as the nature journaling experience itself.

To help other people engage in the places she cares about, Paula also writes books.  Some are books to help people get outside more, such as Take This Book for a Walk and Make a Date With Nature. Others are coloring books of different habitats and the species living in them – some of which are threatened.  By allowing the reader/colorer to go on an adventure in her books, Paula gives them an emotional investment into the wellbeing of these places.

Paula folding forest
Paula makes flaps that lift so she can choose information to hide and reveal – a playful way of nature journaling as well as interactive for the reader.

What is different about the nature journaling experience in Australia?

Nature journal clubs have been growing all over Australia.  Marley asks Paula why she thinks Australia is nature journaling so much.  Here are three possible factors, according to Paula:

  1. In Australia, you can go outside most of the year.  The winters are not so severe – there is seldom snow, for example.
  2. There is extraordinary nature in Australia.  The trees are largely evergreen – there are over 800 different species of Eucalyptus alone! – and there is a diversity of certain animals you would not be able to find anywhere else in the world.  Paula is quick to point out that there are not huge predatory animals, unlike in North America – though Australia is home to many poisonous and venomous animals!
  3. Related to the last point: there are large parts of Australia that are still unchanged from when the European settlers first came, about 200 years ago.  This means that there might be intact ecosystems and wild spaces, places to explore in an increasingly urbanized world.
Paula tree drawing
In this drawing, Paula takes time to add lots of details such as texture and shadows to make the tree come alive.

Adding to INIWIRMO

One of the core tools in nature journaling is observation, and there is a commonly used three-pronged prompt that can help facilitate that process: “I Notice”, “I Wonder”, and “It Reminds Me Of”, or INIWIRMO for short.  Paula adds one more prompt when she is sharing this activity with her students: “How does it (make me) feel?”  (So would that be INIWIRMOHDIF?)  Anyone can follow these prompts:

  1. First, write down what you notice in the environment around you.  This can be things to do with the 5 senses (sight, sound, smell, touch, and taste), or the different species you see, or different behaviors you observe, or other things that are around you.  Caution: try to refrain from making assumptions about what you’re seeing.  You might observe
  2. Next, write down questions that came up for you while you were observing the environment.  You can write down question chains, where one inquiry leads to another, which leads to more.  You don’t have to actually answer any of these questions!  For now, let the curiosity flow.
  3. Then, write down any connections you’ve made.  Perhaps you’re watching an eddy in a river, and it reminds you of water going down the drain in your bathtub – write that down!  Regularly making connections between seemingly unrelated things improves our creativity and changes our thinking.  Plus, by making a comparison of something you see in nature to something that is very familiar to you, you will remember it better, and it might just give you more questions AND more answers!
  4. Finally, write down how you’re feeling about what you’ve been experiencing so far.  When we connect to things personally, we remember them better; so remembering how something personally made us feel then attaches an emotion to that experience.  Paula strongly believes (and we agree!) that nature journaling can promote health and wellness.  And by caring for ourselves in nature, we can also learn to care for nature.

There are so many lessons we can learn from Paula!  Her greatest passion, as a teacher, writer, and scientist, is to connect people with the natural world in as many ways as possible.  We save what we care about; to get people to invest in conservation long-term, we must help each other to experience nature firsthand.  Let’s follow Paula’s example.

 

To see more of Paula’s work and resources (including her downloadable coloring books!) please visit her website: https://www.paperbarkwriter.com

Want to see an interview with another Australian nature journaler?  Check out Marley’s interview with Dion Dior here.

There are several nature journaling clubs in Australia!  Check them out:

Nature journaling Australia: https://www.facebook.com/groups/NatureJournalingAustralia

Brisbane Nature Journal Club: https://www.facebook.com/groups/379012613071527 and https://www.journalingwithnature.com/brisbane-nature-journal-club

Noosa & Sunshine Coast Nature Journal Club: https://www.facebook.com/groups/4007241289308006

Nature Journal Adventures: https://www.facebook.com/groups/582915913094715

Melbourne Nature Journal Club: https://www.amydiana.co/workshops

Newcastle Nature Journaling Club: https://www.henriettamooney.com/newcastle-nature-journaling-club-1

Gold Coast Nature Journal Group: https://www.paperbarkwriter.com/nature-journal-group/?fbclid=IwAR34AEw0R6pEhPgr21UirLCxfdb9jYKABqNjjWIX0Fz3XwsMdaLpzWiorVs

Nature Journal Club of Canberra and Queanbeyan: https://www.facebook.com/groups/natureclubcanberra/

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

 

Bird Illustration with Liz Clayton Fuller

Liz does bird illustration. She paints birds for field guides. She paints birds in front of a live audience twice a week. And to top it off, she has a popular course on bird illustration and nature journaling through the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Oh yeah, she was also a teacher at the Wild Wonder Nature Journaling conference where she taught how to paint birds using gouache.

Bird Nature Journaling Vs Bird Illustration

I asked Liz what is the difference between nature journaling birds and illustrating birds. For science illustration work she has to communicate certain information clearly and accurately. In addition this work requires lots of back and forth with the client to make sure the illustration is accurate. Nature journaling on the other hand feels more relaxing and more freeing for Liz.

“I think of (nature journaling) as more like a love letter to the birds that I am drawing rather than having to be super accurate…”

As you can see, Liz enjoys both approaches and each one feeds a different part of her. The nature journaling of birds is more of a joy-based experience about connection. The bird illustration brings out her artistic side and her attention to detail.

Why Liz Clayton Fuller Loves Gouache and You Should Too
  1. First of all, gouache pops. Especially on toned paper.
  2. Secondly, it can be a forgiving medium compared to watercolor.
  3. Gouache is good for painting bird eyeballs which is one of her favorite parts.
  4. With toned paper it helps you get the mid range values accurately.
  5. Last but not least, gouache is somewhat mysterious. Either you know or you don’t know. To see what gouache supplies she recommends see below.
Supplies she uses for Bird Illustration

The Stillman and Birn sketchbook with three different colors of toned paper! She uses the softcover one and the spiral bound one. Click on the image to see on Amazon.
Click on the image below to learn about the Holbein Gouache that Liz recommends.

Don’t make the mistake that I did! Get an airtight palette for your gouache so it doesn’t dry up and crumble and go to waste.

This airtight palette is only for storing the paints so you will want another palette for mixing. Liz uses ceramic palettes like this one.

Liz uses acrylic brushes for her bird illustration work in gouache.

Sharing Work on The Nature Journal Club Facebook Page

Liz and I talked about how social media can give people the wrong idea of what nature journaling looks like. She peruses the nature journal club facebook page but intentionally doesn’t post her polished bird illustrations there. Her concern is that people will think that meticulous, detailed portraits are the goal. When in fact, messy quick sketches are the norm. This is especially problematic for nature journaling beginners who see all these beautiful paintings on facebook and instagram. These nature journal newbies then go on to compare such artwork to their own experiences of drawing birds in the field. This comparison usually doesn’t lead to positivity or motivation. Her advice:

“At the end of the day, its not about the art that you create. It’s about solidifying that experience in your mind.”

Want to see more of Liz?

You can see more of her work including stuff for sale on her website: https://www.lizclaytonfuller.com/

Check out her Instagram for regular updates.

You can also watch her painting birds live on Twitch

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 Kid

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to nature journal all day, everyday? Does such a dream seem unattainable and far-fetched? Let our resident nature journaling kid, Raybonto, show you how he does it.

This week, Marley set out to answer the question: Who is Raybonto?

When Marley sat down to interview him, Raybonto was quick to show him his recent pages.  First was a field sketch of a tree: he wrote down and labeled the colors he saw, drew himself into the picture, and then estimated in feet the height of the tree. He also did a blind contour, something he says he almost never does in his nature journal, and then he followed up with a values sketch. On that particular day, he did not have any colors with him.

Raybonto's tree study
Raybonto does a field sketch of a tree.

“You can label them and color them back home if you can’t color them in the field, or you can just color them from your memory.”

Later, he was inspired by Marley’s video about how to nature journal while standing up.  

Nature Journaling Kid, Raybonto, sketching while standing
Raybonto uses his bicycle to hold his nature journal steady while he sketches.
Raybonto learns from different teachers

One of the youngest active nature journalers in the community, Raybonto is also one of the most fearless.  Regularly attending classes taught by John Muir Laws, Brian Higginbotham, Melinda Nakagawa, Yvea Moore, and others, Raybonto soaks in their ideas and practices like a sponge before making them his own.  Often, he brings up other naturalists and artists whose work he has studied.

Want to meet a nature journaling teen?  Check out Marley’s interview with Amaya here.

Raybonto fills the whole page

One thing that stands out about Raybonto is the way he uses the space of each page.  Recently John Muir Laws had taught a class on botany, so Raybonto showed Marley his notes.  There were at least 20 individual sketches over the two-page spread, as well as color swatches in every available space.  When Raybonto draws, he doesn’t get tied down to any one drawing; instead he fills his pages completely, drawing a subject multiple times, from different angles, sometimes using different media with each sketch.  He keeps two main sketchbooks: a practice sketchbook, and a field journal.

Nature journaling kid Raybonto's page of snakes

He has also been experimenting with toned paper, using both colored pencils and watercolor.  That brings his total of active sketchbooks to three.

Raybonto is not afraid to experiment

Before his current notebooks, Raybonto had previously been using a watercolor pad as well, though he found he was not able to be as diverse with his media on it.  He felt he had to always include watercolor on the paper, so changing to a different journal allowed him to use whatever media best suited him at any particular time.  

He experiments with any and all media he can get his hands, whether it’s regular paper, toned paper, colored pencils, watercolors, or a 12B graphite pencil – his current favorite.  By experimenting with so many different media, Raybonto all but guarantees he would be able to pick up almost any tool and be able to nature journal with it.  This only adds to his resiliency as a nature journal.

nature journal kid Raybonto draws horses

Raybonto nature journals every single day

For many of us, nature journaling every day might be a goal set too high.  We have other obligations in our lives, and it might feel impossible to squeeze time in for time in nature.  There is no need to beat ourselves up for this.  At the same time, it is more than OK to let Raybonto inspire us. He more than makes the time for nature journaling; rather, it appears he makes nature journaling the center of his day and schedules everything else around it.  Raybonto truly exemplifies devotion and treating nature journaling not as a hobby, but rather as a way of life.

nature journaling kid Raybonto's pencil miles
Our nature journaling kid, Raybonto

If you are totally new to nature journaling you can get started here with how to nature journal in 10 steps.

 

 

Birding and Drawing ALL the Birds!

Have you ever had a big birding day or a big year? Christina Baal’s plan is to see and draw all 10,000 birds on the planet! In this talk she describes how she got into birding, her mission, and how combining art and birding improves both!

Are you a birder? If so, then you are familiar with the desire to add more birds to your life list. Obviously, there is something very fun about “collecting” new birds. There is a powerful pleasure response when we see a new species for the first time. Many of us birders have goals, we have aspirations, we plan birding trips onto our family vacations. However, few of us set our sights as high as Christina Baal.

Birding and Drawing All the Birds
Christina’s Painting of the Fairy Pitta
Birding Abroad or Birding at Home?

Christina has been bird-watching in some exotic places. And to complete her list there are still many more places to go. Despite this fact one of her favorite places to bird-watch is around her home. Indeed, the Northeastern United States can be a birding wonderland during the spring migration. Christina eloquently describes it:

One of the most magical things for me is to step out the door in the first week of May when all the wood warblers are just coming in. Everything is singing, all the flowers are out, and it smells amazing. And you just walk out and the world is pulsing around you. And there are just wonderful blobs of color everywhere.

To see more of what Christina is up to check out https://www.drawingtenthousandbirds.com/ You can also see some of her great photos on https://www.instagram.com/drawing1000… And at https://www.facebook.com/drawing10000…

For more tips on how to combine birding and nature journaling see this post.

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

Botanical Art and Nature Journaling

Botanical art and nature journaling are essential to how Dion Dior makes meaning of the world. She shares some of her pages, favorite supplies, and technical tips in this talk. In addition she describes the huge privilege and responsibility that nature journalers have. Don’t miss the lightning round!

Dion lives in Noosa, Queensland Australia. She nature journals for herself as well as teaching and leading a local nature journal club. The Noosa Nature Journal Club holds free monthly classes in the Sunshine Coast area.

The Noosa Nature Journal Club is based in the Noosaville Area and is open to anyone with a passion for exploring nature with a field journal. We are a community of nature lovers and artists of all levels who meet to connect, record and appreciate the beautiful natural environments of the Sunshine Coast and beyond

Start With a Leaf

As a result of her teaching experience Dion has noticed that people are often overwhelmed in nature. “Where should I start?” Starting with a leaf is an antidote to this. Therefore Dion just tells people to pick up a leaf.botanical art and nature journaling page by Dion Dior

Botanical Art and Nature Journaling Begins with a Leaf
  1. First of all, leaves are accessible and can be found almost anywhere there are people.
  2. Secondly, leaves provide many avenues of investigation when we look at them carefully.
  3. Thirdly,they provide many fun artistic challenges.
  4. Last but significantly leaves are limited in their scope. A leaf once separated from the plant is a circumscribed subject. It is manageable.
Dion Uses Multiple Journals

Another thing that was interesting to learn was how Dion uses multiple sketchbooks and journals for different purposes.You probably know my thoughts about keeping multiple journals. If not, check out this post called “One Journal to Rule Them All.”

She has at least four different nature journals. One is made with nicer watercolor paper. This journal is mostly for botanical art. Dion mostly uses it at home when she is building her skills as an illustrator. She also has one that is dedicated to practice. She does not worry about what the pages looks like. This book is for fun and learning.

To see more of Dion’s pages check out her Instagram.

More Botanical Art and Other Nature Journal Pages by Dion
Botanical Art combined with other nature journaling subjects in australia
botanical art and other nature journaling
Botanical Art page in 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

Birding and Nature Journaling: a Live Conversation with Timothy Joe

Birding and nature journaling should be an obvious match. That’s because you will be more observant, patient, and full of wonder if you do both. You could take my word for it. However, you could also hear it from the mouth of Timothy Joe. Tim has loved nature and art since a young age. In addition to birding he practices nature journaling, watercolor and gouache painting, oil painting, and pastels. In this live conversation we talk about his art, we talk about how racism has affected his experience, and we talk about how we can move forward as a nature journaling community.

I first found out about Timothy Joe from his Instagram  where I saw one of birding and nature journaling can be done anywherehis posts under the hashtag #naturejournaling. In addition to his artwork he also posts about his classes on Instagram. I saw that he was teaching a “Birds and Nature Art Journaling” class. Pretty soon, I was scrolling through a bunch of his other artwork.

Besides birds Tim also does a lot of rural landscapes, especially those that contain historic buildings. Similarly to nature journaling Tim finds joy and meaning in researching and sharing the background story of these buildings. For him, the story is as important as the visual which is demonstrated in the following quote from his artist statement.

Everyday things that usually would not get a second glance can become beautiful works of art. There is a message in every scene, whether it is a location, personal belonging, or building. There are so many beautiful subjects that should have its place on my canvas or any other painting surface. My mission is to capture these hidden treasures before time erases them completely.

Timothy Joe with one of his rural landscape paintings that he does in addition to birding and nature journaling

Why Aren’t All Birders Nature Journaling?

With all these obvious benefits you might wonder why don’t all birders also nature journal?

  1. First of all, many birders have never heard of nature journaling.
  2. Second, many are in too big a hurry to stop and sketch. They just want to check off more life birds.
  3. They are too focused on using all their energy to learn bird names and see more birds and be more hardcore birders.
  4. Finally and significantly, birders are very emotionally attached to their subject and that makes them afraid to try to draw them. Compared to the precision of photography their early sketches of birds could feel awkward. Since they love their subject so much they want to do it justice.
Birding and Nature Journaling While Black

Timothy shared his experience and perspective as a black man in predominantly white hobbies and the outdoors. Later in the conversation we talked about positive ways to make these hobbies and the outdoors more welcoming. The first challenge for him when doing birding or going to an art event is looking around at the other participants. He is often the only black man. He has to reassure himself and the other participants that he is meant to be there. Sometimes they ask if he is lost. He often gets second glances. Just because of the color of his skin. This would be enough to make many of us give up. However, Tim has developed a protocol that he follows.

How to Nature Journal While Black
  1. Show Off Your Supplies. Tim always makes sure he is wearing an artist’s apron, has his easel out and all his art or birding stuff very visible. This type of flagging shows off what his intentions are. Many black birders follow similar rules and try to make it extra obvious that they are birding. This is unfair and should not be necessary but many people in the USA are consciously or unconsciously prejudiced to be suspicious of black people walking around. This is no joke-innocent black people have been killed because of this. As a husband and a father Tim does worry about his safety.
  2. Be Mindful of Your Surroundings. Birders and nature journalers and landscape painters are supposed to be observant. If you are black in the USA you have to be even more observant. Tim tries to pay attention to where he is and what is going on with the people around him.
  3. Choose Your Locations Carefully. Unfortunately, there are locations that Tim would love to paint but feel too unsafe. Certain rural areas or locations that are too out of the way. He has to choose not to go to these places. Black birders have shared this as well.
Bird-Watching While Black

If you want to see another example of protocols, this one by the wildlife ecologist and black birder Dr Drew Lanham check, out this video.

Obviously, neither Dr Drew Lanham nor Timothy Joe should have to feel like they have to follow rules just to do what they love. Even if they do follow these rules it is possible they will be harassed or worse such as the incident with Chris Cooper in Central Park.

Birding and Nature Tours at the Joe Farm

Timothy shared about his family’s farm and all the accessible nature to be had there. They have birding events, wheelchair access, and art events. I want to go some day! Find out more at their website.

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