Nature Journaling Australia: LIVE with Paula Peeters

What makes nature journaling in Australia so different from everywhere else? Find out from Paula Peeters, a nature journaler, teacher, writer, scientist, and conservationist from Australia.  In this episode of the Nature Journal Show, Marley interviews Paula about her books, different ways of describing a place, the ideal nature journal outing, resources for Aussie nature journalers, and what makes nature journaling Australia so special.

How do you describe a place?

If you’re Paula Peeters, you use a diversity of different ways to describe a place.  Sometimes she goes for in-depth drawings that focus on details and take time to complete.  Other times, Paula might opt for a cartoon – it’s easier to capture details quickly when you’re cartooning.  Both approaches are very useful, depending on what Paula is after in her nature journaling session.

Paula birds cartoon
Here, Paula uses a cartoon approach so she can capture the diversity of birds she sees quickly. This helps her draw multiple birds and take down more information than if she had focused on getting one perfect in-depth drawing.

A particularly ingenious way of describing the complexity of a place is with a “folding forest” – Paula creates pages with lifting flaps and expanding backgrounds, so you can see what’s going on in the skies above and the earth below a particular ecosystem.  Using such a variety of ways to show information can help deepen your understanding of that place, as well as the nature journaling experience itself.

To help other people engage in the places she cares about, Paula also writes books.  Some are books to help people get outside more, such as Take This Book for a Walk and Make a Date With Nature. Others are coloring books of different habitats and the species living in them – some of which are threatened.  By allowing the reader/colorer to go on an adventure in her books, Paula gives them an emotional investment into the wellbeing of these places.

Paula folding forest
Paula makes flaps that lift so she can choose information to hide and reveal – a playful way of nature journaling as well as interactive for the reader.

What is different about the nature journaling experience in Australia?

Nature journal clubs have been growing all over Australia.  Marley asks Paula why she thinks Australia is nature journaling so much.  Here are three possible factors, according to Paula:

  1. In Australia, you can go outside most of the year.  The winters are not so severe – there is seldom snow, for example.
  2. There is extraordinary nature in Australia.  The trees are largely evergreen – there are over 800 different species of Eucalyptus alone! – and there is a diversity of certain animals you would not be able to find anywhere else in the world.  Paula is quick to point out that there are not huge predatory animals, unlike in North America – though Australia is home to many poisonous and venomous animals!
  3. Related to the last point: there are large parts of Australia that are still unchanged from when the European settlers first came, about 200 years ago.  This means that there might be intact ecosystems and wild spaces, places to explore in an increasingly urbanized world.
Paula tree drawing
In this drawing, Paula takes time to add lots of details such as texture and shadows to make the tree come alive.

Adding to INIWIRMO

One of the core tools in nature journaling is observation, and there is a commonly used three-pronged prompt that can help facilitate that process: “I Notice”, “I Wonder”, and “It Reminds Me Of”, or INIWIRMO for short.  Paula adds one more prompt when she is sharing this activity with her students: “How does it (make me) feel?”  (So would that be INIWIRMOHDIF?)  Anyone can follow these prompts:

  1. First, write down what you notice in the environment around you.  This can be things to do with the 5 senses (sight, sound, smell, touch, and taste), or the different species you see, or different behaviors you observe, or other things that are around you.  Caution: try to refrain from making assumptions about what you’re seeing.  You might observe
  2. Next, write down questions that came up for you while you were observing the environment.  You can write down question chains, where one inquiry leads to another, which leads to more.  You don’t have to actually answer any of these questions!  For now, let the curiosity flow.
  3. Then, write down any connections you’ve made.  Perhaps you’re watching an eddy in a river, and it reminds you of water going down the drain in your bathtub – write that down!  Regularly making connections between seemingly unrelated things improves our creativity and changes our thinking.  Plus, by making a comparison of something you see in nature to something that is very familiar to you, you will remember it better, and it might just give you more questions AND more answers!
  4. Finally, write down how you’re feeling about what you’ve been experiencing so far.  When we connect to things personally, we remember them better; so remembering how something personally made us feel then attaches an emotion to that experience.  Paula strongly believes (and we agree!) that nature journaling can promote health and wellness.  And by caring for ourselves in nature, we can also learn to care for nature.

There are so many lessons we can learn from Paula!  Her greatest passion, as a teacher, writer, and scientist, is to connect people with the natural world in as many ways as possible.  We save what we care about; to get people to invest in conservation long-term, we must help each other to experience nature firsthand.  Let’s follow Paula’s example.

 

To see more of Paula’s work and resources (including her downloadable coloring books!) please visit her website: https://www.paperbarkwriter.com

Want to see an interview with another Australian nature journaler?  Check out Marley’s interview with Dion Dior here.

There are several nature journaling clubs in Australia!  Check them out:

Nature journaling Australia: https://www.facebook.com/groups/NatureJournalingAustralia

Brisbane Nature Journal Club: https://www.facebook.com/groups/379012613071527 and https://www.journalingwithnature.com/brisbane-nature-journal-club

Noosa & Sunshine Coast Nature Journal Club: https://www.facebook.com/groups/4007241289308006

Nature Journal Adventures: https://www.facebook.com/groups/582915913094715

Melbourne Nature Journal Club: https://www.amydiana.co/workshops

Newcastle Nature Journaling Club: https://www.henriettamooney.com/newcastle-nature-journaling-club-1

Gold Coast Nature Journal Group: https://www.paperbarkwriter.com/nature-journal-group/?fbclid=IwAR34AEw0R6pEhPgr21UirLCxfdb9jYKABqNjjWIX0Fz3XwsMdaLpzWiorVs

Nature Journal Club of Canberra and Queanbeyan: https://www.facebook.com/groups/natureclubcanberra/

Just getting started with nature journaling?

Need more tips? If so, check out this post. It will walk you through how to nature journal in 10 steps.

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

 

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!