The Pencil Miles and Chill gatherings have become a mainstay of the nature journal club during 2020. Yvea Moore will tell the origin story of the gathering in this conversation. We will also learn the main benefits of nature journaling community, tips for nature journaling beginners, and more!
What are “Pencil Miles”?
In the first place let’s define Pencil Miles. In essence, it is a phrase that emphasizes quantity over quality. Does that sound backwards? As a matter of fact, focusing on quantity over quality is one of the most powerful things you can do for any practice. In nature journaling and art for example, too much focus on the quality of your picture or page can lead to many bad habits. In contrast, If you focus on drawing a lot instead of making perfect drawings you will end up making better drawings. The expression “Pencil Miles” has become a neat way to summarize this concept for members of the nature journaling community. For other examples of the nature journal club’s specific lingo check out this post. Here is an example of a page from Yvea’s journal showing her putting in some serious miles.
Origins of the Pencil Miles and Chill Meetup
The first seed of this community gathering was planted by Akshay and Gargi during the beginning of the pandemic. Gargi created a google doc where the nature journaling community could self-organize virtual meetings. Individuals could offer to host their own online gatherings using different platforms such as Zoom, Google Meet, etc. Community members offered classes about different nature journaling subjects. Interestingly, some of the most popular were just free-from meetings where everyone could work on their own nature journal ideas and homework.
Activity on the spreadsheet began to lose steam around the summer of 2020. Meanwhile, Yvea had an idea during one of Brian Higginbotham’s Great Valley Nature Journal Club sessions. Brian asked people to write down their intentions for July. Yvea’s intention was finishing some of her nature journal pages. She decided to offer a space where others could do the same and could support and encourage each other. This evolved into her offering a weekly meetup for people to hang out and work on their nature journal pages. Pencil Miles and Chill was born.
What is Pencil Miles and Chill all About?
The Pencil Miles and Chill meetup only has one rule: be kind to each other. For the most part it is just a consistent time and (virtual)place for people to be together and work on nature journaling. There does not have to be a focus or a topic, instead everyone can work on their own project. Conversation is natural and sharing is encouraged but people can also just focus on their own work. For the most part it is like a virtual study hall for nature journalers. One last point about this group is the amazing inclusiveness and feeling of support that it offers. This is something that people in the nature journal club love about what Yvea is offering.
Top Benefits of Pencil Miles and Chill
- Providing community: One of the main benefits that people get from Pencil Miles and Chill and the Nature Journal Club Facebook in general is a sense of community. This was especially helpful during the isolating times of quarantine.
- Conversation: One specific aspect of community that people benefit from is conversation. Talking is fun and also allows for the sharing of ideas. This can keep us motivated as we nature journal.
- Providing consistency: Having 2 times a week that you know you will be nature journaling helps make it a habit.
- Technical support: When you are struggling with a specific issue you can bring it up and get ideas from other nature journalers.
- A place to relax: There are so many structured online classes for nature journaling that people sometimes get overwhelmed. Pencil Miles in contrast felt like a place you could relax into your own rhythm.
- The coveted book list: If I told you then it wouldn’t be coveted anymore. You will have to join Pencil Miles to find out 🙂 You can find out about the next Friday or Saturday session here.
Some of Yvea’s Tips for Nature Journaling Beginners
- Go easy on yourself.
- Take a break if you need to.
- How to not get intimidated by your journal or full page. Don’t worry about not filling a full page every time.
- Try a smaller sketchbook if you need to.
- Draw on lined paper. It makes you not worry about having precious paper.
- Find the things that motivate you. Find your “juice.” For more about “juice” and other mindset tips Yvea recommends looking at this mindset video I made.
Check out this pile of Yvea’s nature journals!
Do you need help choosing art and nature supplies? In that case check out Nature Journaling Supplies: What You Need and What You Do Not
Are you new to nature journaling? If so, then this post has the basics : How to Nature Journal in 10 Steps