Best Books for Nature Journaling

What is your favorite nature journaling related book?  Do you use books that don’t have ‘nature journaling’ explicitly in the title?  Join Marley and me for this episode of “The Nature Journal Show” where we share the best books for nature journaling.

The subject of nature journaling is quite the multi-disciplinary one.  Natural history, ecology, art technique, mindset, and many other areas of study combine to make this unique subject.  Which categories are most important, are up to you.  But if you are looking for a place to get started in terms of resources, check out our list below.  We include some of the best books for nature journaling that have many of our fellow journalers going ‘Aaaaah!’*

*A quick note before we begin: Please don’t go out and buy all these books!  Please be selective – not each book will be everyone’s cup of tea.  Check your local library for hardcopies and audiobooks (or befriend a librarian).  Check your child’s school library and have them borrow books for you (hey, worth a shot!).  See if there are nearby nature journalers who might want to share books.  Ask in the online community to see if anyone is getting rid of any nature journal books and is looking for a new home for them.  Who knows, we may even start a traveling book collection or a nature journalers’ library someday!

In addition to listing the books we have also included links to many of them in case you want to buy them. The amazon links are affiliate links so we will get a small percentage if you use the link for a purchase without any extra cost to you. This helps support the Nature Journal Show. Where possible we have included the links to the author’s websites so they get the most benefit from the purchase.

Check out our list by categories:

Best Nature Journaling Specific Books

The Laws Guide to Nature Drawing and Journaling by John Muir Laws https://johnmuirlaws.com/product/the-laws-guide-to-nature-drawing-and-journaling/

How to Teach Nature Journaling by John Muir Laws and Emilie Lygren https://johnmuirlaws.com/product/how-to-teach-nature-journaling/

Keeping a Naturalist’s Notebook by Susan Leigh Tomlinson

The Curious Nature Guide by Clare Walker Leslie https://amzn.to/2VMyKvP

A Life In Hand: Creating the Illuminated Journal by Hannah Hinchman https://amzn.to/3hEjSaq

Best Natural History and Ecology books for Nature Journalers

The Diversity of Life by E.O. Wilson a great book about the evolution of biodiversity from one of the foremost naturalists and biologists of today. https://amzn.to/3zeDGHA

The Lost Art of Reading Nature’s Signs by Tristan Gooley

Braiding Sweetgrass and Gathering Moss, both by Robin Wall Kimmerer

Roadside Geology of Northern California

A Tracking Companion by Marley Peifer https://www.blurb.com/b/8746087-a-tracking-companion

When You Are Lost by Joy Colangelo

The California Field Atlas by Obi Kaufmann

Botany in a Day by Thomas J. Elpel

How to Identify Plants by H.D. Harrington

Nature Anatomy by Julia Rothman

The Total Skywatcher’s Manual

Secrets of the Oak Woodlands by Kate Marianchild

Best Field Guides for Nature Journalers

What it’s Like to be a Bird by David Allen Sibley. An amazing new look into bird’s lives  https://amzn.to/3ziQfBw

Sibley Birds East by David Allen Sibley https://amzn.to/3hEZPZI

Sibley Birds West by David Allen Sibley https://amzn.to/3zgGd3W

Reptiles of the Galapagos

https://www.tropicalherping.com/science/books/reptiles/reptiles_of_galapagos.html

Kingdon Field Guide to African Mammals  https://amzn.to/3EkmyUz

The Laws Field Guide to the Sierra Nevada by John Muir Laws

Mammals of the San Francisco Bay Region by William D. and Elizabeth Berry

The Cloudspotter’s Guide by Gavin Pretor-Pinney

Other Nature Art Forms

California’s Wild Edge by Tom Killion and Gary Snyder. A beautiful collection of landscape prints, poems, and history of California’s coast.  https://amzn.to/3kdp9Yw

Also by Gary Snyder and Tom Killion:  The High Sierra of California https://amzn.to/3hCVK8q

Planet Ocean, Dancing to the Fossil Record by Ray Troll. Beautiful illustrations and stories about paleontology and fossils. A fun read and amazing pastel art work. https://amzn.to/3Ceciv9

The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben

Frontiers of Enchantment: An Artist’s Adventures in Africa

Best Art Technique and Sketching Books for Nature Journalers

Rosalie Haizlett’s new book: Watercolor in Nature (coming November 2) https://amzn.to/39d0oFv

Cyclopedia Anatomicae: More Than 1,500 Illustrations of the Human and Animal Figure for the Artist https://amzn.to/3k8Jzlf

Animal Anatomy for Artists by Eliot Goldfinger https://amzn.to/3hyxZOw

Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain https://amzn.to/3tHHwI2

Dibujar la Naturaleza by Juan M. Varela Simó. One of the best books about nature sketching in Spanish. Many examples of nature journal type approaches. https://amzn.to/3zlhLi8

Alaskan Field Sketches by William D Berry https://amzn.to/2XmjtlK

Art Forms in Nature by Ernst Haeckel https://amzn.to/3C82vH4

Making Comics by Scott McCloud https://amzn.to/2Xy3ykN

Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud https://amzn.to/3zf6DTC

Comics and Sequential Art by Will Eisner https://amzn.to/2XmyhRk

The Sketchnote Handbook by Mike Rohde https://amzn.to/3t2pONu

The Restless Kingdom: An Exploration of Animal Movement https://amzn.to/3hCrESd

Drawing Ideas by Mark Baskinger and William Bardel https://amzn.to/3EviZLx

Artist’s Sketchbook by Cathy Johnson https://amzn.to/3nDneOP

The Sierra Club Guide to Painting in Nature by Cathy Johnson https://amzn.to/3hFnXeI

Painting Nature’s Details in Watercolor by Cathy Johnson https://amzn.to/3zgZ9Qi

Botanical Drawing in Color by Wendy Hollender https://amzn.to/3zil9Kn

The Complete Book of Textures for Artists by Steven Pearce, Denise J. Howard, and Mia Tavonatti https://amzn.to/3hCtEKw

Urban Watercolor Sketching by Felix Scheinberger https://amzn.to/3zhs32C

Drawing Birds by John Busby

The Field Guide to Drawing & Sketching Animals by Tim Pond

The Weatherly Guide to Drawing Animals

How to Draw Animals, Jack Hamm

The Art of Animal Drawing by Ken Hultgren

Bird Anatomy for Artists by Natalia Balo

Capturing the Essence Techniques for Bird Artists by William T. Cooper

Art of Field Sketching by Clare Walker Leslie

Sketching in Nature by Cathy Johnson

Drawing and Painting from Nature by Cathy Johnson

Educational Coloring Books (which you can also use for line work inspiration)

The Botany Coloring Book https://amzn.to/3zeMFsc

The Marine Biology Coloring Book by Thomas M. Niesen

A Field Guide to Butterflies Coloring Book by Roger Tory Peterson et al

National Parks Coloring Book by Peter F. Copeland

State Birds and Flowers Coloring Book by Annika Bernhard

Mindset and Motivation

Mindset by Carol Dweck https://amzn.to/3AbmMLc

Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

The Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv  https://amzn.to/2VKPyTX

Nature Poetry

The Home Place by Dr J Drew Lanham https://amzn.to/39biuYA

Black Nature: Four Centuries of African American Nature Poetry

Devotions by Mary Oliver

Please add your own best books for nature journaling to the comments below!  Happy Reading!

Art Toolkit Unboxing and Review on The Nature Journal Show

In this week’s video, Marley tests out a new field kit from Art Toolkit, a supplies company created by Maria Coryell-Martin.  Marley previously interviewed Maria on the Nature Journal Show about her expeditionary art.

Checking Out the New Tools

After looking through his knife collection and selecting a huge cleaver, Marley opens the package.  Inside is the art toolkit containing: a sturdy zippable nylon kit pouch, pocket mister, Moleskine watercolor sketchbook, fine-tip Sharpie marker, medium waterbrush, binder clips, ruler, and waterbrush refill syringe.  Some of the tools are a bit different from what Marley normally uses, but he is open to experimentation.  Being flexible that way is a great practice for any nature journaler to have.

Marley examines the Art Toolkit he received in the mail.

Testing a New Palette

Next, Marley decides to test out a free palette Art Toolkit sent him.  The palette contains some watercolors Marley has not used before, as well as some old standbys.  Maria uses a revolutionary system of magnetic pans, meaning you can easily switch out one paint pan with another, whether for custom field trips or different pan sizes, and ultimately control the layout of your palette. When you are testing out a new palette, remember the following tips:

  • Always start a new palette by making a full color chart.  By doing this, you will know your supplies and be more comfortable with what they can do – before you go into the field.
  • Be honest about the colors you don’t love.  They are taking up valuable palette space and can be vacated for other preferred colors.
  • Test the full range of each color.  When you are painting a swatch, start on one end with the color at full strength.  Then, clean off your brush a bit and continue painting the same swatch, so you can see what the color looks like when it is diluted.
  • List or label your colors.  Better yet: keep them on the same page as your chart.  Know what you have!
  • Keep notes on what you observe.  Does this paint lift out?  Does it granulate? How does it compare to other paints in your palette, in hue, constitution etc.?
  • Experiment!!
Marley does a color chart of his palette; it is important for nature journalers to know their palettes before they go in the field.

Color chart done, Marley heads to dinner.  When he comes back, he might be able to see other changes in his swatches that will give him even more information.  As naturalists, it’s important to continually evaluate our field kits.

Want to try this kit out yourself?

You can try this art toolkit without even buying one for yourself. (Which is good because sometimes we buy something to test it out and then realize it is not the best for us anyways.) Guess what? Members of the Nature Journal Show Patreon get access to this community kit as it gets mailed from one member to the next! You can find out more about the other benefits of supporting Marley’s work on the Nature Journal Show Patreon page.

Are you completely new to nature journaling?

If so, then this post has the basics : How to Nature Journal in 10 Steps

Do you need help choosing nature journaling supplies? In that case check out Nature Journaling Supplies: What You Need and What You Do Not

All the Nature Journaling Supplies from Wild Wonder Conference 2021

Below you will find all of the supplies from the 2021 nature journaling conference!

I did my best to find links where you can find all the nature journaling supplies. The intention is to have all of these in one place that is easy to look at for peopel who are going to take the classes still (video recordings post conference) or as reminders for people who took the classes during the conference. It will also be useful for people who did not buy tickets but want to know what supplies the different teachers used. I recommend buying directly from the teachers when possible, I have listed their online stores below. I have also included affiliate links to amazon for supplies that are available there. I will get a small percentage from purchases made there. Click on the link after the name of the art supply or book.

The classes are listed in order from the beginning of the conference and by name of teacher. Most of the text is copied from the teachers own writing I have added occasionally (note from Marley) before giving my own words or information.

Melinda Nakagawa “Journaling Marine Wildlife of Monterey Bay”: Journal: Canson XL Mixed Media spiral sketchbook, 7×10 size. https://amzn.to/3jsobra
She also uses: John Muir Laws’ Sketchbook : http://johnmuirlaws.com/product/the-laws-sketchbook-for-nature-journaling/

Platinum Fountain Pen. medium nib. https://amzn.to/3jt2l6Q
(Note from Marley: I am not sure which converter she uses but there are several that could be used to allow you to use the waterproof ink she recommends)
Carbon (waterproof) ink. https://amzn.to/3Aa7QgJ
Pentel Aquash waterbrush, Medium https://amzn.to/2UeZdRr
and Large https://amzn.to/363vJZv
John Muir Laws’ Custom Palette: http://johnmuirlaws.com/product/custom-watercolor-palette/

Wendy Hollender “Botanical Sketchbook on Kraft Paper with Colored Pencils
Pencil Sharpeners:Recommendations to choose from:

Desktop pencil sharpener:some brands are: Muji https://amzn.to/3Aa8zOZ ,CarlAngel-5(Rodahle or Q-Connect

Hand held pencil sharpener: Faber Castell Pencil sharpener in a box. https://amzn.to/3h4VVcu
Graphite pencil. H lead. I like Tombow H pencil. https://amzn.to/2SzfksG
Erasers:Kneaded eraser https://amzn.to/3drGdWU
Tombow Mono round Zero Eraser https://amzn.to/3h7jXUy
Small see thru Ruler for measuring: Westcott See –thru ruler 12 inch https://amzn.to/361jwVj

Colored pencils: Faber-Castell polychromos colored pencils (note from Marley: here is a set that contains most of her colors. Specific colors she mentioned listed below) https://amzn.to/3y6lwrd
●Cadmium Yellow 107●Cadmium Yellow Lemon 205●Pale Geranium Lake 121●Middle Purple Pink 125●Ultramarine 120●Cobalt Turquoise 153●Permanent Green Olive 167●Earth Green Yellowish 168●Earth Green 172●Dark Cadmium Orange 115●Purple Violet 136●Dark Sepia 175●Dark Indigo 157●Chrome Oxide Green 278●Red Violet 194●White 101●Ivory 103●Warm Grey IV 273●Burnt Ochre 187●Venetian Red 190●Light Yellow Ochre 183●Burnt Sienna 283●Madder 142●Olive Green Yellowish 173●Bistre 170●Dark Flesh 130Faber-Castell

Albrecht Durer Watercolour Pencils: https://amzn.to/2U7Ftzk These have the same color names as the Faber Castell polychromos.●Middle Purple Pink 125●Permanent Green Olive 167●Dark Cadmium Orange 115●Pale Geranium Lake 121●Purple Violet 136●Dark Sepia 175●Cadmium Yellow 107●Burnt Sienna 283●White 101●Light Yellow Ochre 183●Warm Gray IV 273●Earth Green 172●Ultramarine 120

Verithin pencils:*Dark Brown https://amzn.to/3qAJbNV , *Black https://amzn.to/2Ua6zFZ *Gray 70% https://amzn.to/2TnPt7o
Prismacolor White Pencil (Note from Marley: this is a 12 pack which is way cheaper than buying one by itself. Split with a friend or nature journal club) https://amzn.to/3jrdAwI

Brushes:Watercolor brushes by Interlon in sizes: 0/3, 0, 6 https://drawbotanical.com/product/interlon-watercolor-brushes/
Or mix of Waterbrushes from Pentel https://amzn.to/3w088ne
Collapsible Water Cup by Faber Castell https://amzn.to/3x8pMGC
Palette for mixing watercolor pencils:A sheet of Dura-Lar matte film https://amzn.to/2Ua7wy3 for use with Albrecht Durer Watercolor Pencils as a mixing palette Or this awesome Caran d’Ache Aquarelle WatercolorPalette https://amzn.to/3Aa873j

Stonehenge Kraft Paper available in pads 9 x 12 inch size or 11 x 14 inch size https://amzn.to/3h1XAzM . I make custom reclosable spiral binding pads that can hold refills of stonehenge kraft paper available at: https://drawbotanical.com/product/custom-hot-press-watercolor-spiral-pad/
Small sheets of tracing paper any kind https://amzn.to/3y8krPW

Embossing Tools for paper Set of 1 -3 small sizes) https://amzn.to/2Te2RLA Frog prong flower holder (optional) Magnifying glass Draftsmen Mini Duster (Brush for wiping away debris) Recommended Text“The Joy of Botanical Drawing”,by Wendy Hollender Art supplies available at: http://www.drawbotanical.com

Amy Schlesser “Doodling Diagrams” No supply list for this class but Amy recommeded this book. “Dear Data” Book: https://amzn.to/3qCygDo This book is also really good on diagrams: https://amzn.to/3qDWOMt

Kristin Antonio “Microscopic Observations of the Natural World”
Portable Carson Micromini Microscope https://amzn.to/3AiUfnl , Phone adapter Clip https://amzn.to/2TfcXvL , foldscope https://www.foldscope.com/

concave slides https://www.carolina.com/microscope-slides-covers/student-quality-concavity-slides/FAM_632970.pr , covers, sample containers

Day 2 of the Nature Journaling Conference

Karen Romano Young “Telling Your Science Stories Visually” Karen did not give a list of supplies but here are some of her books and a great book about visual story telling and comics.

Understanding Comics https://amzn.to/2UbJZgc
Her Books:
Try This https://amzn.to/2ULLxxG , Bug Science, Shark Quest https://amzn.to/3qEn9dl , Doodlebug https://amzn.to/3jvgsc7 , A Girl, a Raccoon and the Midnight Moon https://amzn.to/3w9Snu3

Ryan Petterson “Virtual Fieldtrip: Geology of Death Valley”
Strathmore Visual Journal (mixed media, 9x12in) https://amzn.to/3h4EA3Band a basic ballpoint pen (Bic Cristal, 1.6mm). https://amzn.to/3qAKpc6 “Geology Underfoot in Death Valley” https://amzn.to/3qD5EKf

Mattias Lanas “Field Sketching with Water Soluble Ink”
Pilot Black Razorpoint: https://amzn.to/3weAsCA
Sakura white Gelly roll (assorted sizes): https://amzn.to/3yaOTsx
Sakura water brush (3 sizes): https://amzn.to/3jtHlgi

Roseannn Hanson “Watercolor Made Simple!”
Paint (I do sell the Minimalist Paint Kit https://www.exploringoverland.com/shop/minimalist-paint-kit I demonstrate with, but you can also compile your own. Yellow: a neutral, transparent, non-staining (“lifting”) yellow. My favorite is Cobalt Yellow aka Aureolin (PY40). https://amzn.to/3jv4xL7 Will also work: Hansa Yellow. https://amzn.to/365RzvI You don’t want a really warm yellow such as Quinacridone gold. Magenta: a cool, transparent, non-staining (“lifting”) magenta. My favorite is Quinacridone Rose (PV19) https://amzn.to/3jyTO2m . Will also work: Quinacridone Magenta https://amzn.to/2Tlo3iw . Note: you don’t want a red. Red is not a primary color!Cyan: a cool, transparent, non-staining (“lifting”) blue. My favorite is Manganese Blue Hue (PB15)https://amzn.to/2UjihhO . Will also work: Cerulean (PB35) https://amzn.to/3jx5vXo or Manganese Blue by Old Holland (PB33).Burn Sienna: https://amzn.to/2UWPcJd I like Daniel Smith but any will do. Indanthrone Blue: a warm, transparent dark blue (PB60)https://amzn.to/3AfMAGx . Tools Paint brush (any round-style will do) or water brushWater container (if not using water brush)Micro-fibre cloth or paper towels or old towel PLUS some kleenex Watercolor paper (loose or in notebook), minimum 90-pound weight. Cold-pressed is probably best for beginners. Strathmore 400 series 9X12 90lb cold press https://amzn.to/2UWPsIb Several squares of waxed paper for a fun way to do quick “resists” and a dull pencil to do the transfer

Day 3 of the Nature Journaling Conference

Emilie Lygren “Writing our Way to Wonder: Creating Poetry from Journal Entries” Emilie did not require any special materials but you can find her book of poetry here https://emilielygren.com/books-broadsides/

Carol and Margaret Mackie “Making Your Own Journal: Easy Small Books for Nature Journaling” This awesome class had a very simple supply list you probably have at home. You can also check out their etsy shop http://ArtcrossingsStudio.etsy.com

  •  7 sheets of printer paper
  • · scrap paper
  • · glue stick
  • · scissors
  • · pencil
  • · old credit card

 

Liz Clayton Fuller “Quick Bird Studies in Gouache”
Stillman and Birn Nova Series Tricolor Sketchbook, cool grey toned paper, 7×10”https://amzn.to/3jrsh2V

–  Size 8 Flat Brush (for laying down large areas of color) https://amzn.to/2TewjB7
Size 4 Round Brush https://amzn.to/3h4isGCSize 1 Round Brush (for detail and texture) https://amzn.to/3A8PIns

–  Ceramic palette for color mixing (any palette will do!) https://amzn.to/2TferGj
Airtight palette (note from Marley: Liz did not mention this in her list but I think this is the palette she uses to store her paints. I put my gouache into a regular palette and it totally dried out and crumbled. During here class I saw that she was using two palettes, an airtight one for keeping the colors and another one for mixing. I’m pretty sure this is the airtight one she was using: https://amzn.to/2TmUTQc

–  Small spray bottle for keeping gouache moist https://arttoolkit.com/products/pocket-mister/ use promo code marley15 to get 15% off before July!
Two cups of water, one for clean water and one for rinsing brushes https://arttoolkit.com/products/x-shot-collapsible-water-cup/use promo code marley15
(note from Marley: Below are the colors she has in her palette (bold colors were used in the class. I did not put links to each color tube individually but there is a palette that is similar: Holbein Set of 24 5ml tubes https://amzn.to/3h5Hnte 
–  1st row: Ivory Black https://amzn.to/3ybMQVe
Zinc White, Terre Verte, Emerald Green, Permanent Green Deep, Cobalt Blue, Peacock Blue, Primary Cyan
–  2nd row: Raw Umber, Chinese Orange, Flame Red, Alizarin Crimson, Opera Pink, Violet, Ultra-marine deep, Primary Magenta
–  3rd row: Burnt Umber, Burnt Sienna, Permanent Yellow Orange, Yellow Ochre, Naples Yellow, Permanent Yellow, Lemon Yellow, Primary Yellow

Erica Stephens ” Journaling the Jurassic: A Fossil Fieldtrip”
* Pencil & eraser (kneaded eraser)
* Journal – preferably with connected pages in the middle (The Laws Sketchbook for Nature Journaling) http://johnmuirlaws.com/product/the-laws-sketchbook-for-nature-journaling/
* Watercolors (Koi Watercolor Pocket Field Sketch Box, comes with water brush)https://amzn.to/2TluK48
* A few different colors of gel pens, colored pencils &/or markers for the metadata (Artwerk gel pen set w/refills)(note from Marley: I spent a while trying to figure out which gel pens she is using, I could not find a brand called Artwerk but these gel pens seem to have a case with that name on them.  https://amzn.to/3y7NX8k https://amzn.to/3yaX4Ff 

Optional: Curiosity ..and love of dinosaurs! (note from Marley: I could not find where to get either of these online, supply your own.

Richard Louv Keynote Speaker

Richard did not mention any supplies but here are some of his books.
“Last child in the woods” https://amzn.to/3hp1wcG
“The Nature Principle” https://amzn.to/3y4xzp0

Day 4 of the Nature Journaling Conference

Painting Shiny Bugs Class with John Muir Laws
Big hat: Jack Recommends going to a garden store and picking the biggest brimmed hat that you can find. He recommends foldable synthetic type hats for durability, packability and longevity. Here is an example from the company Columbia: https://amzn.to/3x8CPI

All of these supplies are available on his website store: http://johnmuirlaws.com/store/
Black Grape Prismacolor Pencil
Non Photo blue Pencil
Aquash Waterbrush
Blue Pencil he used for highlights (not sure what color but it was probably Prismacolor brand

Permanent White Gouache he uses, available if you buy his complete palette or you can just get the gouache here: https://amzn.to/3hp2CVQ

His Palette from his website: http://johnmuirlaws.com/product/custom-watercolor-palette/
Or the individual colors he used in the class
Pthalo Yellow Green https://amzn.to/3jvy47B
Pthalo Blue https://amzn.to/2TmYsG4
Hansa Yellow Light https://amzn.to/3x91ZXc
Quinacridone Gold https://amzn.to/2SBJLOW
Winsor Violet https://amzn.to/3wd81od

Mike Rohde “Creative Lettering for Your Nature Journal”
The Sketchnote Handbook: https://amzn.to/3y8PkDz
The Sketchnote Workbook: https://amzn.to/3hk4hMt
Gel pen or felt tip pen, medium (0.5 or 0.7mm is ideal) black Paper Mate Flair (his favorite pen) 12 pack of black : https://amzn.to/3qGnEUm
Gel or felt tip pen, medium, your favorite color – mine is teal: Sakura Gelly Roll 5 colors including teal, pink, purple, blue, magenta .6 mm https://amzn.to/3qEwAcw
Paper mate flair (his favorite pen) 24 Color pack: https://amzn.to/361uY3e

Mark Simmons “Cartooning Techniques for Journaling”
– Sakura Pigma Microns (I like the chunky 08 size) https://amzn.to/3h6ky8Q
– Zebra Brush Pens (sometimes found under the “Zebra Zensations” brand) Variety pack with 4 types. https://amzn.to/3qDPXCF
– white gel pens and Liquid Paper correction pens for highlights and touchup https://amzn.to/3wbKUdM
(Marley prefers: Jumbo Correction pen for large https://amzn.to/3hmgdxgand Uniball Signo for Fine: Uni-ball Signo White Gel Pen: https://amzn.to/3yOAzXV
– Pentel Aquash Water Brush: Pentel Waterbrush Large: https://amzn.to/3v0gLyb
Art alternatives 11X17 Sketchbook: https://www.joann.com/art-alternatives-hard-bound-sketch-book-11in-x-8in-landscape/17639303.html
Understanding Comics book: https://amzn.to/2UbJZgc

Amy Tan “Backyard Chronicles”

(Note from Marley: No special nature journaling supplies are needed for her class but Amy did give this list of her favorite tools and books)

Favorite equipment
For in the field:

  • Custom Nature Journal Bag and Laws Sketchbook (both available in John  Muir Laws’ store: https://johnmuirlaws.com/store/
  • mechanical pencils:   .5 HB,   .5 4B,  .7 HB,  .7 2B,  Pentel Twist-Erase Click Mechanical Pencil:https://amzn.to/3mUxOid
  • selection of  Faber-Castell colored pencils stored in a small plastic case
  • sharpener,  kneaded eraser, smudge stick,  measuring tape, magnifying glass and small binder clips, stored in a pencil pouch

For journaling and sketching The Backyard Chronicles at home:

  • Fiorentina journal refills,  unlined,   7 x 10. (6.25” x 9.5”), 288 pages  (I use my own covers)  (note from Marley: this is the closest thing I could find to to the paper she mentions: https://amzn.to/3h7jp0G )
  • mechanical pencils:   .5 HB,   .5 4B,  .7 HB,  .7 2B
  • Prismacolor colored pencils

For detailed bird drawings:

Bethan Burton “Skyscapitos: Mastering Cloud Shapes and Sky Colors
Arches watercolor paper Arches 300gsm cold pressed watercolour paper: https://amzn.to/2UiUluA (note from Marley…this paper is expensive but has a big effect on your results. I used my normal nature journal paper and some of the techniques that Bethan demonstrated did not work)
Washi tape or masking tape: https://amzn.to/3625eUv
Masking fluid: https://amzn.to/3y9Lfz1
Staedtler Lumicolor permanent pencil: https://amzn.to/3dxAO0p (note from Marley. I’m not totally sure this is the kind of pencil that she mentioned.)

Watercolor: (note from Marley: Bethan mentioned using any watercolor you have. I recommend Daniel Smith and have provided links to those examples of the colors she mentions) lighter blues (such as cerulean, cobalt, ultramarine, manganese and pthalo) to achieve a convincing sky colour. We will also talk about darker blues (such as indigo, prussian or indanthrone blue)

Brushes: two flat brushes (6 mm ~#0 https://amzn.to/2UQjahT and 15 mm ~14# https://amzn.to/3js94OA ) for making washes and a round brush (size 6) for adding detail https://amzn.to/3hrfqev

Dr J. Drew Lanham Keynote Speaker
Some books by him
“The Home Place: Memoirs of a Colored Man’s Love Affair with Nature” https://amzn.to/3dvVXrE (audiobook) Hardcover: https://amzn.to/364Y2H2
“Sparrow Envy” https://amzn.to/367MyTj

Day 5 of the Nature Journaling Conference

Vitor Velez “Even the Sky is Not the Limit: Creative Layouts”
Supplies coloring pencils from Faber-Castell(polychromos series): .Cold Grey IV.Black.Walnut Brown.Dark Phthalo Green. Here is a set that contains his colors and more. https://amzn.to/3qEPdgt

Sterre Verbokkem: “Working with Toned Paper in Black and White
Strathmore Toned Paper: https://amzn.to/3w3dcr3
Bic Mechanical Pencil. HB or 2B
Black ink https://amzn.to/3dxzASN or very dark watercolour too https://amzn.to/2SBRUTw . Water brush https://amzn.to/3v0gLyb.
Fineliner pens. https://amzn.to/3663Y2K
Faber Castell white charcoal pencil (note from Marley: this pencil is the most essential tool to getting that uniqie style that makes Sterre’s work stand out. https://amzn.to/3dxHOdH
Grey posca marker https://amzn.to/3663lWE

Robin Carlson “Lively and Expressive Field Sketching in Brush Pen and Watercolor”
Fude Demanen Fountain Pen: https://amzn.to/2QBCJby
Pentel Pocket Brush: https://amzn.to/3w7EjRL
Kuretake Fude pen #8: https://amzn.to/3juL1hW
Pentel Waterbrush Large (used with ink): https://amzn.to/3v0gLyb
Carbon ink https://amzn.to/3dxzASN
Aquash gray https://amzn.to/2SHQXcy

Kim McNett “Virtual Fieldtrip: Coastal Alaska”
Dry bags sea to summit : https://amzn.to/3dyyHcS
Prismacolor non-photo blue pencil https://amzn.to/2Uaduz0
Pentel Mechanical Pencil size 0.5 : https://amzn.to/3mUxOid
Micron Pens 01, 03 and05 https://amzn.to/3663Y2K
Clear Pocket Ruler https://amzn.to/3yb6IYt
Pentel Waterbrush Large: https://amzn.to/3v0gLyb
WatercolorPaper(coldpress#140) https://amzn.to/3dwE7Fc
Watercolors:-UltramarineBlue(MGraham) https://amzn.to/3hkMB3n -CobaltBlue(MGraham) https://amzn.to/3AdIBKt -CeruleanBlue(MGraham) https://amzn.to/3jwphCy -CobaltTeal(MGraham)https://amzn.to/3AiCuEE -PermanentAlizarinCrimson(MGraham)https://amzn.to/3x81EUA -QuinacridoneRose(DanielSmith)https://amzn.to/2U8WXvb -BurntSienna(MGraham)https://amzn.to/3666Mg1

Kate Rutter “The Sense-Ational Nature Journal”
Fudenosuke Brush Pen from Tombow. https://amzn.to/3w6gHN9

How to Choose a Sketchbook for Nature Journaling

How do I choose a sketchbook for nature journaling? Which paper is best? What size should I choose?

Don’t worry, don’t waste money, and don’t blindly get the same journal as someone else. In this video I show you how to pick the sketchbook that is best for you!

It’s easy to spend more time shopping for a sketchbook than actually nature journaling. And it’s also easy to end up with a sketchbook that is not right for you. In fact, it’s even possible to think you are not good at drawing or not motivated to nature journal when in fact you have a sketchbook that doesn’t fit your needs. Instead of dogmatically telling you which is the universally best sketchbook I’m going to give you the criteria that you need to understand. With an understanding of these criteria you will be able to make your own decision.

Sketchbook for Nature Journaling Criteria:

  1. Size Matters. The size of your paper has a big impact on your nature journaling. If you have too small of a journal it can cramp your style. Making small drawings is often more difficult especially for beginners. A small sketchbook can also be hard to hold while you draw. Too big might be awkward to carry, inconvenient in the field, and too heavy.
  2. Binding. The next criteria to consider is binding. Spiral bound is good for folding back your pages and giving a flat surface to draw. It is also good for durability. However, a sewn binding is preferred by many people. Sewn binding gives you the appearance of a regular book and the spine looks good. You can also write or draw on the spine. The other advantage of sewn binding is you can draw across a 2 page spread which can be really cool. Sewn binding is usually harder to lay flat and they can be hard to hold if you are drawing standing up. Sometimes they are not durable.
  3. Orientation. The two main orientations for journals are “landscape” and “portrait”. Either one comes in a variety of ratios of height to length. I really like a portrait paper with 9″X 12″. And remember even if you like landscape format drawings you can divide a portrait style page up into smaller frames of any shape you want. How to Choose a Sketchbook For Nature Journaling Image 1 showing how orientation of page does not mean you cannot do a landscape on a page with a portrait layout.
Criteria for choosing a sketchbook continued:
  1. Paper type. You could spend your whole life trying to understand different paper types. However, let’s keep it simple. Paper can be understood by it’s ingredients, it’s weight, and it’s surface. Instead of worrying about these too much I recommend just choosing a “mixed media paper” for nature journaling. A mixed media paper will allow you to do some watercolor while still being able to write notes and draw with pen or pencil. I really like the Stillman and Birn Alpha Series Paper.
  2. Cover material. Although it is not the most important criteria the type of cover does have an impact. A stiff cover is easier to hold in the field and protects you paper better. An attractive cover that does not attract dirt and is not easily stained will also help you. This cover has a big impact on the appearance of your journal. If it is too pretty you might be afraid to use it. If it is too ugly or has big logos or stickers on it you might not feel drawn to it.
  3. Paper color. Lately, some people have been using toned paper to great advantage for nature journaling. Toned paper comes in black, gray, and tans. It is good for gouache, colored pencils, and pale subjects. White paper also comes in different “shades.” For more on how to use toned paper see this post by John Muir Laws.

If you are just getting started nature journaling now you know how to choose a sketchbook. But what if you still need some pointers on how to nature journal? This video can help you get started.

Need help choosing the other nature journaling supplies? Check out Nature Journaling Supplies: What You Need and What You Do Not

Bullet Journal Review and the 7 Benefits of Journaling

Have you heard of the Bullet Journal? Six months ago I bit the bullet and decided to try this journaling system. Since then I have journaled every day and analyzed the system. In the following video I review the product from bulletjournal.com. In addition, I compare the benefits of bullet journaling to my list of the 7 Benefits of Journaling.

You might like bullet journaling if:
  • making checklists makes you happy
  • you love analog planners
  • you like lining up moleskine notebooks on your bookshelf
  • stationary is second nature
  • you like gel pens
  • being more organized is a goal
  • nice calligraphy on your shopping list makes you feel good

Before trying bullet journaling I had been journaling for over ten years. In that time I had tried many methods of journaling. I tried stream of consciousness, I tried gratitude journals, and I tried the 5 minute journal system promoted by Tim Ferris. Most recently, I started nature journaling which has changed my entire life.

The first time I heard of a bullet journal was on instagram. As an avid journaler I had searched #journal several times and seen all of this bullet journaling and “bujo” stuff come up. At first it just seemed like an aesthetic trend then a legit method for life improvement. I’m not sure why six months ago I decided to try the system. I ordered a journal made specifically for bullet journaling from Ryder Carroll, the originator of the method. This is not necessary but I wanted to start with the real deal. See my initial unboxing and review here.

So, what are Peifer’s 7 benefits of Journaling and how does the Bullet Journal rate?

7 Benefits of Journaling and the Bullet Journal

  1. Commitment and Attention: The first benefit of journaling is it focuses your attention and makes your commitments more clear. Especially with an analog system there is only so much you can fit on a journal page. This makes you get clear about your priorities and work your attention muscle. The “Bujo” method definitely taps into this benefit.
  2. Visual-Verbal-Manual: You learn better when you combine the visual, verbal, and manual parts of your brain. Studies show that even doodling off topic during a lecture can improve your memory of the content! As an analog method that often incorporates drawings or graphics the bullet journal method achieves this second benefit.
  3. Externalizing your Thinking for Objectivity: The next benefit of journaling is critical yet overlooked. By getting your ideas and emotions on paper you can look at them more objectively and make better decisions. Depending on how you use bullet journaling you can check this benefit off the list.
  4. Externalizing your Thinking for Mental Space: However smart you are there are only so many things you can hold in your head. The fourth benefit is making more space by getting some of that crap onto paper. Once you have your ideas or shopping list on paper you can think on a higher level. Bullet journaling excels on this one especially in the way that it can help you see larger chunks of time. Specifically, the “Future Log”, “Collections”, and “Migration” features help achieve this benefit.
Before we go into the next 3 benefits a little side note about aesthetics. If you spend any time looking at bullet journals online you might get intimidated by how artistic and colorful and perfect they look. A shopping list becomes a work of art. If you start bullet journaling with this in mind you will set yourself up to get few if any of the 7 benefits. Therefore, don’t focus on the aesthetics.
bullet journal example
Don’t try to make your Bullet Journal as precious as this one from Grandezzasjournals

The Last 3 Benefits

  1. Venting: Do you have a friend who always complains to you? Or maybe your sister? Chances are good you do this to someone also. So why not use your journal instead? In fact a journal is a great place to vent. Depending on how you use your bujo you may or may not get this benefit. Don’t miss out. Incorporate it somehow.
  2. Chronology and Trajectory: The bullet journaling method shines in this department. Since the human brain is not great at understanding longer stretches of time or remembering specific details from a few weeks ago a journal can help you visual a chronology of your life and see the bigger patterns. This can help you envision where you are going. Many people use their Bujo to plan their life trajectory and personal goals.
  3. Record: The final benefit of journaling is to provide a record. However, this can be a controversial one. Sometimes, people even burn their old journals! A bullet journal does a great job of this because of its inherent organization system. If you use the indexing feature and collections you will have no trouble searching through old Bullet Journals and finding a record of what workout you did 5 months ago.

 

Best Watercolor Palette

A good watercolor palette is one of the best art investments you can make so I am going to show you my favorite palette and four reasons why it is the best!

When you are nature journaling or even urban sketching you can produce more compelling sketches faster if you have watercolor. As it turns out there are tons of watercolor and palette options out there. However, finding a good portable palette and choosing watercolors that work well is a daunting task. You could spend all your time looking for the right supplies and not have any time left over for making art! Therefore, I’m gonna help you avoid that problem by showing you the best watercolor palette I have found. Let’s get into it. Cue the drum roll!

The best watercolor palette for nature sketching and journaling is the customized palette by John Muir Laws!

You can buy one of these palettes on his website here. But be warned, these palettes are hand made and often run out of stuck so be sure to get yours first. Or you can even make your own from John Muir Laws’ instructions because he is such an amazing and generous guys (more details on how to make your own palette below).

Using the JML watercolor palette in the field
Me using the John Muir Laws watercolor palette for nature journaling.

4 Reasons it is the Best Watercolor Palette

  1. You are going to save so much money! Because this one art tool can eliminate the need for hundreds and hundreds of dollars of other art supplies. You can make so many combinations with the 32 watercolors included in this palette. Also, watercolors are so concentrated they will last a long time.
  2. Excellent Color Choices! Because a professional illustrator and naturalist has carefully chosen all 32 colors you can avoid the guesswork. Therefore you can focus on making the art and learning how to use the colors in your paintings. Most of the colors come from Daniel Smith Fine Watercolors, a small company based in the US that still cares about quality art supplies.
  3. So Organized and Compact! From the arrangement of the colors to the clear labeling on the outside this watercolor kit is dialed in! There are also mixing areas in all the right places. You don’t have to experiment over and over again to find a system because John Muir Laws has done it for you. The kit is also compact enough to fit in your purse or back pocket. That’s a lot of art power in your pocket!
  4.  Field-Tested and Child Approved! Finally, this watercolor palette has been tested by many artists in some of the most challenging field painting conditions! John Muir Laws and myself have both used this palette in places such as British Columbia, the Amazon Jungle, the Serengeti, Rwanda, the Sierra Nevada mountains, and the Ecuadorean Cloud Forest. This palette is tough and has stood the test of time.

Ok, One More Reason To get this Watercolor Kit

Last but certainly not least. This watercolor palette is the best because John Muir Laws shares the entire process of how to make it for FREE on his website! Just follow this link. That proves that he believes in this palette so much he would rather share how to make it than just try to make money. What a great guy!

Look at all the colors you can make with this kit! Here is a chart that I made showing all the combinations.

What about a watercolor palette for the studio?

If you want to get some more ideas about what would work good for the studio check out this video

But what paper should I use?

Now that you know the best palette for nature journaling you might want help choosing the best sketchbook. Check out this post where I share all the criteria you need to know to choose the best sketchbook for you!

Best Brush Pens: Follow Up Review

Have you experimented with brush pens? Do you have time to sort through all the different types as well as their confusing names? In this video I review several types of brush pen that I have been using for nature sketches and nature journaling.

When I first started nature journaling I had a limited number of drawing tools that I used. However, I went through a stage where I experimented with a lot of different art supplies. Have you ever gone through stages like that? It can be fun to experiment with different media and it can help us grow as artists. Experimenting with different art materials can also be an excuse to buy a lot of stuff and get the pleasure release from shopping instead of the pleasure of actually making art.

After several years of experimentation I have narrowed down my “quiver” of brush pens. Having a limited number of tools is empowering for me, it builds confidence, familiarity and skill. It also makes it easier for me in the field when I reach for an art tool and I don’t have to think twice.

Here are the ones that I have found most useful…(this is not an exhaustive list but if you are just starting out or just need a good pen it covers the bases)

Best Brush Pens For Nature Sketching

Pens With Actual Brush Bristles:

    1. Pentel Color Brush Pen Black: while the name is a little confusing this pen is just like a brush that you would use for calligraphy but it has a cartridge full of black ink. It comes in fine point and medium point and the ink is supposed to be waterproof. Even though it is more waterproof than the one mentioned below, I would not do watercolor on top of it and sometimes it smudges on your hand or the opposite page in a journal. Pentel Brush PenDespite being a fun art tool I rarely carry this in my field kit but use it in the studio for gestural drawings, titles, dramatic silhouettes and the like. It puts down a rich heavy black. “Pigment based ink” is keyword for it is more water proof.
    2. Pentel Fude Brush Pen: this one looks just like the one above but the ink Pentel Fude Brush Penis less water soluble. If you want to experiment with washes or wet on wet techniques in ink this could be fun. Otherwise, I see no benefit to this one and once I tried it I have never gotten it again. I do not recommend this one for nature journaling or watercolor.
    3. Pentel Color Brush Pen Gray: this is a newer version of one that I have used in the past. I like gray ink for a lot of purposes however it seems like the Pentel gray inks are usually less waterproof. Gray ink can be really useful for under-drawings.

      Brush Pens with Felt Tip Type Points:

      1. Tombow Dual Brush Pens: I have used these pens a lot in my journal Tombow Dual Brush Penfor creating frames, borders, titles, and under-drawings. They come in a wide variety of colors including some very pale ones which I really like. However, they are not waterproof and I have had whole pages ruined when I was exposed to a little mist in the field. For nature journaling this is unacceptable. I rarely use these tombow pens anymore.
      2. Zebra Brush Pens: These come in 3 tip widths and a gray ink version. zebra brushpens come in 3 size tipsThey are waterproof and John Muir Laws has been recommending them and selling them for several years on his website. I have tried them and they are pretty good. You can get a lot of line variation and once they dry they are pretty resistant to watercolor washes on top.
      3. Last but not least, the Pilot Futayaku Brush Pen: this pen is currently my favorite drawing tool, especially the one that has a gray tip and a black tip on the same pen! The ink is waterproof but the gray might fade a little bit. You can also get a lot of line variation. I love the gray ink. If you want to see how I use this pen in my landscape painting process check out this post here.Pilot Brush Pen with a Heart on it

I’m Trying Bullet Journaling!

Are you curious about fun analog ways to plan and organize your life? Join me in this experiment as I try out Bullet Journaling and see how I can incorporate it into my life and my other journaling systems.

The Nature Journal Show!

Those of you that follow my youtube channel have seen that I started a weekly nature journaling show! I am really excited about it and have been putting a lot of creative energy into it because I want to help all of you get more our of your nature journaling experience. Let me know if there are any topics you are particularly interested in for future episodes.

If I could only have one item of clothing…

I can’t wait to share with you some of the stories from my latest nature journaling adventure. But before I do, I wanted to show you a product that helped me keep smoke out of my face and sleep soundly at night while I was at the prescribed burn training program last weekend.