Second Chance Elk Rut!

In November we will hike back out to Tomales Point for a second chance or a double dose of the Tule Elk!  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. Last year we ended up witnessing some amazing coyote activity on the second chance elk trip and we also encountered  humans who thought it was a wolf! We did our best to spread accurate information about the distinctions between wolves and coyotes and the political importance of this difference. Thanks to Constance, and the California Center for natural History for participating in this field trip last year and providing an awesome spotting scope that helped us see the wolf, I mean coyote, up close.

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

Be prepared for Nature Journaling goosebumps and a good dose of charismatic mammalian megafauna!

$20 suggested donation. No one turned away for lack of funds.

Capture the Essence of California Oak Savanna

In the month of October the north coast nature journal club will be exploring the rolling hills and oak savanna of Helen Putnam Regional Park near Petaluma. We will practice several techniques for doing small watercolor landscapes to capture the essence and atmosphere of the place. We will also practice drawing three-dimensional trees with several tricks that will make your branches look like they’re coming off the page.

We will be hiking short distances up and down hill on this trip with mostly even terrain. Bring all your normal nature journaling supplies and binoculars. Be prepared for sun and warm conditions. A small folding stool could be useful for the longer landscape drawing. This location has a bathroom and seven dollar parking unless you are a member of the Sonoma County Regional Parks. Bring a potluck item that is not too hard to carry onto the trail because we will not want to go back to the parking lot for lunch.

$20 recommended donation

For more information about this park: Helen-Putnam-Regional-Park

In case of heavy rain, unlikely, we will head to California Carnivores in Sebastopol where we can journal and draw incredible carnivorous plants while being protected from the rain..  Directions

Eaten Alive to Save the Jungle?

I recently finished reading “Mother of God,” by the guy who tried to get himself swallowed by an anaconda on the Discovery Channel. I must admit, I did not know about the stunt when I checked the book out from the library and started following Paul Rosolie on Instagram.

As you might expect from the star of a Discovery Channel special called “eaten alive,” the book portrays a sensational, extreme, version of nature with plenty of hyperbolic descriptions and close encounters with death and danger.

However, if Paul Rosolie did all this as a stunt to bring attention and money to the conservation of the Madre de Dios region in Peru, then perhaps the ends justify the means.

I wish the book were more well-written or at least if the editors had worked a little harder on it before sending it off to the presses. Paul Rosolie obviously has better things to do than polish his prose but that does not excuse Harper Collins.

Nevertheless, I read the full book, and I read it fast. I recommend you at least check it out.

Book Review: How to Change Your Mind

I listened avidly to the audiobook version of Michael Pollan’s new book   and finished it in two days ( I got it the day it came out). This book is worth a read (or listen) for anyone interested in the mind, philosophy, death, and the treatment of mental illness. The book is especially useful if you or someone you love is dealing with anxiety, depression, addiction, or the recent death of a loved one. Here is my review:

For more about Pollan and the book check out his site: here

Michael Pollan on Psychedelics

Michael Pollan is one of my favorite authors to take up the task of examining human-nature relationships. He examines ways in which nature and culture intersect on the most basic physical levels hence his interest in gardening and food. In his new book, “How to Change Your Mind” he looks at the “food of the gods,” psychedelics, and the role they may play in a better understanding of the human mind and the treatment of mental disease such as anxiety and depression. I will definitely do a video review of this book once I have received and read it.

Before you order the book listen to this great interview where Pollan describes some of his thought process and excitement around the topic of psychedelics with Tim Ferriss!  In this interview he asserts that despite the fact that he has often been pigeon-holed as a food writer that he is in fact a nature writer. If you want to skip adds, start about five minutes into the podcast below.

Learn Faster:

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!

Share Your Work!

You might remember your math teacher telling you that the answer was important but “showing your work” was also part of the points on a test. As it turns out, your math teacher was right. This principle still applies today, especially for creative professionals such as visual artists. Social media takes sharing your work to a whole ‘nother level.

This concept was driven home to me by Austin Kleon in his aptly named book  Show Your Work . I found out about Austin Kleon thanks to Chase Jarvis.

An image from Kleon’s book.

I am an avid learner of new things and  my goal right now is to keep my sharing/teaching as up to date with my current passions and studies as possible. It is easy to want to wait until I am an expert about something before posting videos on youtube about it. However, Austin Kleon has convinced me that it is better to learn from a passionate student than a cynical and jaded old expert.

Right now,  I am most passionate about learning as much as I can about herpetoculture, snakes, bioactive vivaria, and the scaping of functional and aesthetic miniature ecosystems.

Here is a recent youtube video I made about this exciting learning process that I knew nothing about 6 months ago:

 

What are you passionate about right now? Are you avidly learning about it? Could you be sharing your process more?

 

For more of the benefits of showing your work check out this short video about the book:

 

Explore Sunset at the Laguna!

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: 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

Spoken Reflections From Tanzania: Ngorongoro to Karatu

Tanzania 2017During my trip to Tanzania, I used my nature journal and my pocket notebook for drawing and writing and I used my phone for photos, short videos, and audio recordings. With this diverse toolbox I tried to document my observations, feeling, and impressions.

In this particular recording I give some of my observations about agriculture, tourism, and my personal reactions to the land of contrast.

Most of these observations I make in messy notes in a tiny notebook in the moving bus or car, a practice I have kept up on my last three tropical expeditions. Even though I get car sick I find that there is so much to see during these trips and I have so many ideas that it would be a waste not to record them. The notes are almost illegible because they are made while in motion. I also use this book when I am on fast paced walks or hikes that do not allow for me to pull out my big nature journal sketchbook. On this trip I began the pattern of rereading these notes and elaborating on them verbally with an audio recording. I plan on repeating this system in the future.

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