It is easy to think that nature journaling is just about drawing plants and animals when it is actually so much more. In this video I describe some of the key characteristics that make nature journaling so revolutionary and accessible.
In November, I have the opportunity to lead a crew of nature journalers on some normally inaccessible trails in the Laguna de Santa Rosa! I am really excited to be teaming up with Lapndpaths and the Laguna Foundation again for this trip. Come along for this fun learning adventure.
There will even be snacks and beverages before we head out 🙂
Thanks to Landpaths this class is free if you pre-register here
Spaces are filling up fast so take advantage of this opportunity.
I had to cancel the nature journaling field trip for today but here is a video that I made to motivate you to nature journal at home! Consider it your homework 🙂 I guarantee it will help you maintain your sanity if you are stuck inside from the smoke:
Please send me an email if you have any other good nature journaling ideas for indoors on rainy or smoky days!
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
Here is a great little video by one of my favorite youtubers:
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!
There was once a ceramics teacher who did an experiment with his students. He told half the class to make as many pots as they could over the course of the semester, focusing on quantity not quality. He told the other half of the class to put all their energy and inspiration into making the single best pot they could. He told the first group they would be graded solely on quantity and the second group on quality.
At the end of the semester the teacher compared the pots of the two groups. Guess which group had produced the best pots?
Those students who had focused on producing as many pots as possible were free to practice without fixation on a finished product. They were able to learn and improve their skill. Ironically, the group that was told not to think about quality ended up producing finer pots. It appears that we learn better and faster when we are focused more on the practicing then on the outcome, a concept beautifully described in the book “The Practicing Mind.”
Simply put, sketchers learn faster.
Let yourself scribble, jot, sketch. Just fill up the page. Just keep your pencil moving and your eyes observing your subject. Just let your brain ask questions about what you see. If you do this regularly, you will learn much faster, you will improve. Ironically, you will begin to produce the superior images whose elusive promise inhibited your learning in the beginning.
This learning principle applies to most physical and intellectual pursuits that I can think of.
Try it out. Leonardo da Vinci did.
“The world is full of obvious things which nobody by any chance ever observes.”
Have you ever revisited somewhere that you have been many times and seen things that you didn’t notice or never paid attention to before? I know that I have.
Have you ever noticed that after shopping for one type of a shoes or reading about one type of animal all of a sudden you are noticing them everywhere? I know that I have.
It is easy for the conscious mind to come up with faulty explanations for these occurrences, such as, “Wow. Everybody is getting the same shoes as me now.” But the truth is usually not in the outside environment but in one’s own perception.
When I was a kid, growing up in Southern California, I was very observant and I noticed more things in nature and saw more animals than the average kid my age and much more than the average adult. However, I was an untrained naturalist for the most part and when it came to birds I knew few by name. When it came to local birds of prey I knew even fewer by name. The name that I definitely did know was red-tailed hawk. And sure enough, the only raptors that I remember seeing were red-tailed hawks.
Later, when I moved to another part of the state for college, I had the good luck of taking a natural history class where I learned about five different local birds of prey and learned to identify them frequently in the field. My first interpretation was: “Wow, there are so many more raptor species here than in Southern California, there must be some environmental reason.”
In subsequent visits to Southern California however, I started seeing many of the other species of raptors. Apparently, some of what had been “red-tailed hawks” turned out to be red-shouldered hawks, and some were probably even accipiters, while surely many of the other birds had just gone un-named and therefore un-noticed.
The field of cognitive science has learned a lot about perception in the last few decades and much research has been focused on vision. Most people take what they see for granted as an unadulterated, objective view of reality. As it turns out, what we see is vastly mediated by what we know, what we think we know, and what we expect or don’t expect.
If you only know the name of one kind of bird you might not see much else besides that bird. But if you read a whole book about the elusive Cooper’s hawk you will probably start seeing them (and hearing them) all over the place.
The morals of the story are:
- What you see and what you don’t see is shaped by what you know and don’t know.
- Don’t jump to conclusions about environmental reasons for what you see or don’t see.
- You can train yourself to see more
I will be adding more related articles about observation in small digestible segments.