I include a lot of my thoughts, feelings, and routines on a roadtrip to teach at the Monterey Bay Birding Festival. I talk about my growing conviction that this kind of work is part of my mission in life. I am working to build this mission into my own career and my own way of contributing to the world. This video is dedicated to Robert Laws and John Muir Laws my mentor. And even though I did not know Robert Laws personally If it weren’t for him and the lineage through Jack, I would not be half way as far along the path that I am on.
This video is meant to entertain and motivate you to learn faster, try harder, and push your edges…
Here is a practical technique that you can apply to learning almost any new skill but is especially useful for nature artists and nature journalers!
I have been unintentionally doing this for a while and have only recently recognized the value and started to conceptualize it.
Do you have information dense places that you seek out to accelerate your learning?
Do you have trouble drawing, painting, or journaling in public places? If so, my next post is for you!
In December we will meet at the Laguna de Santa Rosa trail during the most exciting and most beautiful time of day! The crepuscular hours are when many raptors can be seen hunting and many mammals are out in the open. Every time I walk this trail near sunset I’m surprised by how many birds I see and by the incredibly lit landscapes. Last time, I saw a family of owls!
We will focus on techniques for drawing and painting quick landscapes and how to crop and choose a good composition. We will also work a lot on colors and light as the sun drops. While we are working on these, there will probably be cool bird sightings mixed in.
This trail is a very easy hike on flat and mostly paved paths. It is wheelchair accessible. We won’t cover much distance and we will probably have long stationary moments. The weather is unpredictable and can get cool as the sun drops. Bring a packable snack item to share because we will eat on the trail. A foldable lightweight stool and binoculars will be very handy on this trip.
For this trip we will meet later than usual at 1:30pm until 5:00pm to allow us to be out in nature at a special time of day. Our potluck will therefore be more of a “Linner” than a lunch. Meet at the Laguna de Santa Rosa trail parking lot off of Hwy 12 just before the entrance to Sebastopol. There is no address or street name but it is the next turnout after this Saddle Shop: 6144 Sebastopol Ave, Sebastopol, CA 95472 and before the Chevron.
If it is raining hard the morning of the event we will meet at our backup location, California Carnivores, and draw the incredible plants inside their wonderful greenhouses!The address is:
California Carnivores 2833 Old Gravenstein Hwy Sebastopol, CA 95472
For more information about this incredible carnivorous plant resource in South Sebastopol check out their page: https://www.californiacarnivores.com/
$20 recommended donation
In November we will hike back out to Tomales Point for a second chance or a double dose of the Tule Elk! We went once in September and it was awesome! There should still be some of the mating season behavior at this time of year and we will get an opportunity to document it in our journals. We will focus on learning how to draw ungulates, how to draw antlers, and how to creatively depict action sequences in your journal. There will also be plenty of opportunity for painting landscapitos.
The weather is variable at this coastal location so be prepared for everything. The hiking will be moderately strenuous due to the distances we will try to cover but the terrain will not be too technical. Wear comfortable hiking shoes, bring a folding stool, binoculars, and a potluck item to share on the trail.
We will meet at 10 am at the Tomales Point trailhead parking lot at the very end of Pierce Point road near the old white barns. Look for people standing around with sketchbooks. This excursion will go longer than our usual meetup to take advantage of this special opportunity. 10am-4pm, potluck lunch at 12:30.
RAINY DAY BACKUP PLAN: If lots of rain is in the forecast, check this site the morning of the event. We will go to the Bear Valley Visitor center in Point Reyes where we can sketch birds and landscapitos from the covered porch or sketch any of the fine collection of taxidermied animals inside. Last time I was there during a rain I saw and journaled a sharp shinned hawk hunting a song bird in the bushes just yards away! The address is 1 Bear Valley Visitor Center Access Road, Point Reyes Station, CA 94956
Be prepared for Nature Journaling goosebumps and a good dose of charismatic mammalian megafauna!
$20 suggested donation
In the month of May the North Coast Nature Journal Club will be going to one of my favorite locations, Bodega Dunes! This is another great spot to learn the usefulness of a tracking perspective and how reading tracks can accelerate your learning as a naturalist and nature journaler. We will also get a chance to explore the edges of seasonal ponds, coastal wildflowers, the digs of coyotes and badgers, and perhaps osprey and other raptor activity. Last time I was there I found huge owl pellets filled with vole bones, watched osprey fly by with fish, and saw hundreds of sandpipers on the beach.
This is a coastal location so the weather is variable and often windy. Sometimes it is foggy and drippy. Wear layers and sun protection, sun hat. The hiking will be mild and we will mostly avoid walking on the difficult loose sand dunes. Our potluck will be around 12:30 on the trail so bring a packable potluck item to share. Binoculars and light folding stools could be useful.
We will park and meet at 10am along the cypress trees at the entrance. Parking in this area is free.
Be prepared to recognize patterns, draw birds, and add story-telling elements to your journal practice. Students from my Santa Rosa Junior College class might join us on this day!
$20 suggested donation
I plan on going despite some rain in forecast.
Do you want to go on an “Easter egg hunt” with a bunch of curious and fun nature nerds? What better way to spend part of your Easter? Bring a friend or some family members for a healthy, outdoorsy, brain-stimulating way to spend the holiday. The North Coast Nature Journal Club will hike around Hood Mountain regional park, using our nature journals as a lens for engaging with the natural world. Instead of looking for plastic eggs filled with sugar we will look for precious natural nuggets of wonder that are just waiting to be found by a curious eye. Some dark chocolate might be involved as a cognitive enhancer. There will be great opportunities to compose and paint landscape sketches in the mixed oak woodlands and meadows. Depending on the group we might opt for a more adventurous hike to see some of the North Bay panoramas available from the ridges, where we can try our hand at painting “grand landscapitos” and study atmospheric perspective. There are also beautiful creeks to explore.
This outing will involve more strenuous hiking and areas with very uneven ground. Please wear layers, sun protection, and comfortable hiking shoes. Bring a potluck item that can be carried on the trail. Easter themed is fun if you want. As always bring your sketching and watercolor supplies. Light folding stools might be useful but focus on mobility and comfort.
We will meet at the Pythian Rd entrance parking lot. Please do not accidentally go to the Los Alamos rd entrance. This is a Sonoma County Regional Park so there is a $7 parking fee. (I recommend becoming a member. Many of our meetings will take place at these parks so a membership could be a good commitment).
$20 recommended donation
I started the North Coast Nature Journal Club as a way to share my personal passion for observation and learning and as a way to connect with other people in nature. Sonoma and Marin counties in Northern California are full of diverse and rich ecosystems and there are many people interested in connecting with nature. On the third Sunday of every month we explore a different location, from sand dunes to mixed oak savanna. We use our sketchbooks as a substrate for our interaction with the natural world. I’m passionate about facilitating learning in a group and we constantly bounce ideas off each other and otherwise benefit from nature journaling as a group.
We also share a potluck lunch on every outing!
What is Nature Journaling?
When do you meet next?!
Are there other nature journal clubs? Check out the nature journal club facebook page for more info about other groups and the Bay Area group that started it all.
For the magnificent month of March we will meet at South Salmon Creek, just North of Bodega Dunes campground on Hwy 1. This is a very fun location to observe coastal wetlands, waterbirds, and to explore animal tracks including red foxes. This will be the perfect trip to learn more about animal tracking, how to draw tracks, and how to frame and paint 5 minute landscape sketches.
We won’t hike long distances but the terrain is slightly challenging because it is mostly sand dunes. The weather is variable and can be windy. Be prepared for sand and wind. Bring sketching and watercolor supplies, binoculars, and a potluck lunch to share. We will return to the parking lot around 12:30 for the potluck so you don’t need to pack your food/beverages on this trip.
We will meet in the parking lot at 10am. Parking here is free.
Directions: Drive north on Hwy 1 from Bodega Bay, after the big sign and turnoff for Bodega Dunes Campground stay attentive on the left. Just before the bridge over the creek there is a small turnoff onto Bean ave. Turn left onto bean ave and follow this small street until it dead ends at a parking lot covered in sand.
Be prepared to see something you have never seen before and to add 3 new tricks to your mental toolbox!
$20 recommended donation
Join the North Coast Nature Journaling meetup this month at the Ragle Ranch Park in Sebastopol! We will stay out of the mud but still have fun drawing oak trees, observing bird behavior, and whatever else we discover. Last time I was there I saw 2 species of centipedes, listened to a frog chorus, and found mistletoe fruit stuck to my shoe! Bring sketching and watercolor supplies, binoculars, and a potluck lunch to share. Layered clothing, and a foldable chair or stool might also be useful. Be prepared to enjoy nature and learn with like minded people. Hiking will be very mild on this trip. We will meet at 10am near the playground at the entrance to the park.
There is a $7 parking fee or you can park outside the entrance. Look for people standing around with sketchbooks. Potluck lunch around 12:30.
This event is part of the newly formed North Coast Nature Journal Club, led by Marley Peifer. Our meetup provides nature journaling opportunities for Marin, Sonoma, and Napa. We meet on the third Sunday of every month at a different outdoor location and provide a place to share your naturalist journey with others and improve your note-taking and artistic skills. $20 recommended donation