Nature Journal Interview: Fiona Gillogly

In this nature journal interview you will get a peak into the story of another nature journaler. You might not be as young as Fiona… And you might not have filled 1,900 pages of nature journals…Nevertheless, I’m sure you will be moved by this conversation.

Tips from this Nature Journal Interview

  1. The best place to nature journal is somewhere with lots of mysteries! You don’t have to travel.
  2. Luckily, you can find lots of mysteries near your home or even inside.
  3. Nature journaling is not an “art project.” Your pages don’t have to look a certain way. They also don’t have to look perfect.
  4. The main point of nature journaling is to be amazed by nature, to look more closely to nature and to learn.
  5. Don’t be afraid to start nature journaling just because you are intimidated by all the visually polished pages you see online.
  6. If you are a more experienced nature journaler consider sharing some of your less perfect pages to encourage beginners. In this interview Fiona said “The pages you don’t want to share are the pages that you need to share.”
  7. Nature journaling can help your birding. The nature journaling approach can help birders appreciate and find nuance even in the most common “trash birds.” For more about how to combine birding and nature journaling check this video out. Also be sure to check out Fiona’s recent article in Birding Magazine for more about this topic.

More about Fiona Gillogly

Here is a short bio from Fiona to learn more about her that was not in the nature journal interview.

Fiona Gillogly, age 17, has loved art and nature since she was a little girl. In 2016, on her 13th birthday, she discovered nature journaling through a chance meeting with John Muir Laws, and she was thrilled to find something that combined these two things she adored. Since then, she has
become a passionate nature journaler, naturalist, and advocate for nature. Fiona spends time daily in the wild lands near her home. She loves to look for mysteries in nature and explore them in the pages of her nature journal. Fiona also loves to bird, draw, paint, craft, act, sing, harmonize, play
cello, compose music, write stories, and speak German.

Fiona has attended Waldorf schools since the age of 3, where art and nature are an integral part of the curriculum, but none of her nature journaling has been a part of school instruction. All of it has been self-motivated. In the 4 years that she has been nature journaling, Fiona has completed 23
journals with more than 1,900 pages of nature journaling explorations.

Fiona is one of several naturalists included in John Muir Laws’ latest book, How to Teach Nature Journaling (https://johnmuirlaws.com/product/how-to-teach-nature-journaling/).  Fiona recently published her first print article in the June issue of Birding, the national monthly magazine of the American Birding Association. The 7-page article is called: “A Birder’s Brain on Paper: How keeping a nature journal improves our birding experiences.”

Fiona plans a career in ornithology that also includes field sketching/illustration/art and writing. You can read more about Fiona, watch some of her talks, and see examples of her writing and her nature journaling pages here: https://www.fionasongbird.com/naturalist.html

Birding and Nature Journaling: Special Technique

Let’s combine birding and Nature Journaling  to see more birds, learn faster, improve our memory of field marks, and go deeper with each bird. In this video I show you how to use a secret technique to have more close encounters with birds. This approach can help you whether you are a birder or a nature journaler . You might be surprised because it is not what you think.

“The watched pot never boils”

Everyone has heard the above expression. However, not everyone knows that it applies to birding. In fact, the expression could be “the watched bird never does what you want.” Many times the watched area may not produce birds at all. Most birders and animal lovers have had this experience in nature. This experience can be especially difficult for bird photographers and artists. As soon as you see the bird it will turn away or leave. How can we solve this problem?

Secret Technique for Birding and Nature Journaling

  1. First, we are going to pretend like we are not looking for birds.
  2. Next choose a location that is comfortable and of varied habitat.
  3. Bring a comfy chair, binoculars and nature journaling supplies.
  4. Start drawing a tree or painting a landscapito.
  5. After about 20 minutes I find that the birds start to come to you. Be sure that you have your binoculars ready.
  6. Create a sidebar or reserve a blank area next to your tree drawing or landscape painting for recording your bird observations.
What if I’m new to nature journaling?
  • Nature Journaling is not focused on drawing pretty pictures. If you focus too much on pretty pictures or you have unconscious expectations about prettiness you will struggle more.
  • Focus on what you notice.
  • Turn your drawing into a diagram. This takes pressure off the art.
  • Trace shadows. If you are afraid to draw a tree, try sitting under one and tracing cast shadows on your page.
  • Trace leaves. This is another low risk method you can try.
  • Remember that nature journaling uses 3 languages: words, images, and numbers. Try to use them all.
  • Experiment with your own ways to combine birding and nature journaling.
What if I’m new to birding?
  • It is ok if you cannot identify birds at first. Sometimes you can notice more about things when you do not know their names. Just write down or sketch the features you notice about them.
  • Try looking up birds when you get home.
  • Try going with friends who are more experienced birders. Maybe introduce them to nature journaling.
  • Experiment with other ways to combine nature journaling and birding.

birding and nature journaling combined can help you learn more about common birds and enjoy drawing them. This is an example of a nature journal page where I focused on a common "trash bird" in Costa Rica that most birders would have not paid much attention to.

For more fun how to nature journaling videos.
For an in-depth guide to drawing birds check out this video from John Muir Laws.
See how nature journaling can make you a better birder.

Nature Journaling For Kids and Families

Nature journaling for kids could be the solution for your summer. Are your kids already bouncing off the walls at home? Are you worried about them losing focus, losing momentum, or falling behind?

What if there was a way that your kids could be inspired to learn, you could relax, and your whole family could spend quality time learning about nature, science, and art? And all of this without driving anywhere or compromising your family bubble.

1.   What is it?

The Nature Journal Family Summer is a month long fully engaging learning adventure. This distance learning course will provide focused connection time for you and your kids while also nurturing a deeper connection with nature. The curriculum delivers exciting applications of art, science, math, and language. It also develops invaluable transferable skills such as focus, scientific inquiry, critical thinking, self-awareness, and visual problem-solving. When you sign up you can count on a structured learning experience that lets you simply relax and follow the journey with your kids.

Details:

A.     June 8th -July 3rd

B.     Four families

C.     One or two parents and one or two kids per family

D.    Kids: age range (8-15)

E.     Cost: $450 for three family members for four weeks

F.     Add-ons: $75 for every kid or parent over three total family members

G.     $100 for additional family check-ins

2.   Your Teacher

Marley Peifer has been teaching nature journaling to kids and adults for over five years. He frequently co-teaches and collaborates with John Muir Laws, one of the founders of the nature journaling movement. You can see how Marley brings a fun, personable, and in-depth approach to teaching in his weekly nature journal show. nature journal for kids class

3.   How it Works

Everything is designed to allow the maximum benefits of a learning community while also providing individual attention and flexibility for your family’s schedule. This takes pressure off the parents, provides a healthy peer-based motivation for kids, and allows for varying ages and learning styles.

A.     Week One: Plants

i.          Introductory Meeting just with parents

ii.           1.5 hour Group Class with all families on Zoom

iii.           40 minute Family Check-In with Marley and your family

iv.           Two fun 30 minute follow-along activity videos to use at your leisure during the week

B.     Week Two: Animals

i.         Group Class with all families

ii.         One Family Check-In

iii.         Two activity videos at your leisure

C.     Week Three: Connections

i.         Group Class with all families

ii.         One Family Check-In

iii.         Two activity videos at your leisure

D.    Week Four: Exploring Deeper

i.         Group Class with all families

ii.         One family Check-In

iii.         Two activity videos at your leisure

iv.         Final Journal Share with all families on zoom.

4.   What you need

Each participant needs:

A.     A sketchbook or journal. Dimensions of around 8.5×11” is best. Printer paper stapled together or simply bound and held on a clipboard can work in a pinch but is not ideal.

B.     Pencils or pens.

5.   Sign up

Reserve your spot before June 6th by emailing Marley at marley339 @gmail.com

 

Nature Comics to Show Action in Your Nature Journal

Have you ever witnessed an exciting event in nature? An action even that you could not represent in your nature journal? If so, then nature comics might be the perfect strategy for you to practice.

This video did not turn out the way I was planning…However, nature is like that. And if we practice some of the techniques of comics and graphic novels we will be ready for the unexpected.

First, and most importantly, don’t give up if what you are observing in nature doesn’t turn out according to your plan. I thought that I was going to make a nature comic about my snake eating. However, my snake was shedding and was not interested in eating. Unfortunately, I had already laid out my page assuming it would be about the snake eating! At this point I almost gave up but instead I stuck with it. A comic can tell any story so don’t worry if it is not the story you were planning on.

Nature Comics Tips

  1. First, Be aware of anthropomorphizing. It is easy to project human feelings and thoughts and communication onto non human beings. This can be useful in some ways and can make your subject relatable. However, it is important to be aware of this. It is therefore important to be aware of the fact that we can not truly know what other animals are feeling or thinking.
  2. Next, be intentional about choosing your frames. Unlike a video, in nature comics you have an extreme limit on the perspectives you can show. As such, it is important to choose your frames with care. What is the most useful for telling the story you want to tell? For more about this check out the book Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud
  3. Last but not least, look for subject matters around you in your house. Maybe there is a pet or something that you have never paid attention to. Perhaps the way that your cat eats its food or plays with a toy could be the source of a nature comic that will help you hone your skills.

10 Nature Journal Ideas You Should Know!

Every hobby has special concepts and lingo and nature journaling is no exception. Have you ever encountered  nature journal ideas or language that you were unfamiliar with? If so, this video can help. I explain 10 nature journaling ideas and special words that every nature journaler should know.

And why should you know these words?

You should know these words because we need them to explain the specific ideas that are unique to our practice. In addition, they can be a shortcut to communicate a whole concept. For example, I can just say “pencil miles” to someone and convey a large amount of info succinctly. Otherwise, I would have to use several sentences to communicate the same idea.

Let’s get on with the words! Have you used any of the words below?

Ten Nature Journal Ideas You Need to Know:

  1. Pencil Miles: This is a cool phrase that summarizes the importance of repetition and practice for the improvement of drawing.
  2. Meta-Data: This heading at the beginning of our page gives info about the location, the time, and the date. In addition, you can add whatever data is relevant to you such as: the tide, who you are with, the humidity as well as symbols for the type of clouds or other weather features.
  3. Landscapitos:  These are small landscape drawings. For more about them check out this post on Landscapitos.
  4. Non-Photo Blue Pencil: Many nature journalers use these pencils for a faint under-drawing. They do not show up in photocopies or scans. Check out what John Muir Laws loves about them!nature journal ideas like this non photo blue pencil are important to understand
  5. The Pretty Picture Trap: This nature journal idea is one you want to avoid! Even though we all like beautiful drawings the fact of focusing on making pretty pictures can be a problem.
  6. Precious: Sometimes, when I have a drawing that is looking good, I start taking fewer risks because I start getting precious about it . This can hamper our learning. Similarly, this problem can emerge if you have really fancy materials or watercolor paper and you are hesitant to mess it up.
  7. Stealing Ideas: We use the word “stealing” in a positive way because we want people to be able to share ideas and learn from each other. Therefore, next time you are in a journal share “steal” some good ideas from someone instead of just admiring their pretty page.
  8. Post Hoc: Any nature journaling work that you do after the field trip is called post hoc which means “after” in Latin.
  9. Sacrificial Pancakes: One of my favorite nature journal ideas is the sacrificial pancake! These are the first drawings we make in a session while we are warming up because you have to make these before you can make good ones!
For number 10 go watch the video! You will also find a bonus one there.

Journaling to Save the World

It was dark and drizzly as I started the engine of my car this morning.  The pale glow of the dashboard clock said 4:26 am as it blinked into life with the sound of my engine. The Wild Wonder nature journaling conference was over and it was time for me to head home.

Now that the intense few days of travel, teaching, sharing, listening, and networking are over it is time for us to get back to our daily lives, our work in the world. For me, nature journaling and journaling in general are big parts of my daily life AND my work in the world. One of the ways that I support the education that I am doing is through my Patreon page. Please watch this short video where I describe how you can help me spread this incredible important work:

https://www.patreon.com/MarleyPeifer

The Last Nature Journaling Adventure Video?

Join me on this foggy and cold nature journaling field trip to the biodiverse coastal dunes of Sonoma County!

This will be my last nature journal adventure post before my  trip to Tanzania!

Nature Journal Quick Tip:

Nature Journaling is not about drawing pretty pictures. It is about accelerating your learning and deepening your observations and connection in nature. Ironically, if you are focused on pretty pictures you will struggle to get pretty pictures and you will struggle to deepen your observations and accelerate your learning in nature  🙁

However, if you focus on the learning and observation you will end up getting prettier and prettier pictures as a by product.