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.
On October 22nd I will be geeking out with my nature journal at the reptile expo in Santa Rosa at the fairgrounds!! It will be a great opportunity to see a diversity of willing models from around the world. As you might know I am passionate about sketching snakes and really look forward to drawing some of the endlessly fascinating color patterns on their skins.
Look for parking at the Veterans hall across the street. 1351 Maple Ave, Santa Rosa, CA 95404. There will be paid parking available also closer to the entrance to the fairgrounds. To get into the expo costs 10$. Journalers and sketchers will meet inside the Hall of Flowers. Just come inside and look for people with sketchbooks. Bring your small nature journaling shoulder bags if you have them. I will bring my kit that I use when I sketch at zoos and museums. Also bring snacks for yourself and a potluck item to share. We will probably have a chance to return to our cars for the potluck at 12:30.
During 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.
The following is a recording where I review my second day:
It was the first day of the Nature Journal Safari and contains many of my first landscape scale impressions from the hours of cross-country driving.
One correction from the audio regarding the hanging beehives. I think they are not actually managed hives but traps for enticing homeless swarms.
I was not expecting so many agaves.
While we were waiting for our permits to enter Tarangire national park I sketched the elephant skull then posed in front of it. Thanks to Dana Vallarino for the photo.
A page of sketches from that morning.
I took this photo when Impalas were so fresh and novel. By the time we left the Serengeti, Impalas and Gazelle by the hundreds were commonplace.
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.