Botanical Art and Nature Journaling

Botanical art and nature journaling are essential to how Dion Dior makes meaning of the world. She shares some of her pages, favorite supplies, and technical tips in this talk. In addition she describes the huge privilege and responsibility that nature journalers have. Don’t miss the lightning round!

Dion lives in Noosa, Queensland Australia. She nature journals for herself as well as teaching and leading a local nature journal club. The Noosa Nature Journal Club holds free monthly classes in the Sunshine Coast area.

The Noosa Nature Journal Club is based in the Noosaville Area and is open to anyone with a passion for exploring nature with a field journal. We are a community of nature lovers and artists of all levels who meet to connect, record and appreciate the beautiful natural environments of the Sunshine Coast and beyond

Start With a Leaf

As a result of her teaching experience Dion has noticed that people are often overwhelmed in nature. “Where should I start?” Starting with a leaf is an antidote to this. Therefore Dion just tells people to pick up a leaf.botanical art and nature journaling page by Dion Dior

Botanical Art and Nature Journaling Begins with a Leaf
  1. First of all, leaves are accessible and can be found almost anywhere there are people.
  2. Secondly, leaves provide many avenues of investigation when we look at them carefully.
  3. Thirdly,they provide many fun artistic challenges.
  4. Last but significantly leaves are limited in their scope. A leaf once separated from the plant is a circumscribed subject. It is manageable.
Dion Uses Multiple Journals

Another thing that was interesting to learn was how Dion uses multiple sketchbooks and journals for different purposes.You probably know my thoughts about keeping multiple journals. If not, check out this post called “One Journal to Rule Them All.”

She has at least four different nature journals. One is made with nicer watercolor paper. This journal is mostly for botanical art. Dion mostly uses it at home when she is building her skills as an illustrator. She also has one that is dedicated to practice. She does not worry about what the pages looks like. This book is for fun and learning.

To see more of Dion’s pages check out her Instagram.

More Botanical Art and Other Nature Journal Pages by Dion
Botanical Art combined with other nature journaling subjects in australia
botanical art and other nature journaling
Botanical Art page in nature journal
Just getting started with nature journaling?

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

How to Nature Journal in 10 Steps

Do you want to learn how to nature journal?  Do you want to avoid the most common  beginner mistakes? Right now, I show you 10 steps to getting started with nature journaling.

How to Nature Journal

  1. First, choose your location wisely. Choose a location that is close, convenient, and comfortable. This is a common mistake that beginners and experienced nature journalers both make. You don’t need the most exciting wilderness location to nature journal.
  2. Next, get your supplies ready. One mistake that many of us make is to get more art supplies than we really need. All you really need is a good bag, a sketchbook, a pencil, and whatever you need to be comfortable in nature. For a review of what I use see Journaling Kit Review
  3. Capture the context quickly. Whip your nature journal out and start using it as soon as possible. A common mistake is to wander around for too long waiting for inspiration. There is no perfect subject and the muse will not come to you if you don’t  get some pencil miles first. Start by putting metadata, sketching a map, or getting other contextual information on the page.
  4. Warm up your brain with “I notice, I wonder, it reminds me of.” Before you get caught up in trying to paint a portrait of a bird or flower start with this simple observation exercise. In this way you will warm up your observation skills and you will breach the barrier of the blank page.
  5. Now, draw a landscapito or paint a scene. Drawing a small landscape or scene will convey the feeling and ecology of a place. These will help you remember your trip and they look great on the page combined with your other notes and drawings. However, there are also side benefits of sitting still this long. Birds and animals often come close! For more on drawing landscapitos see these videos

“The real voyage of discovery consists not of seeing new landscapes but in having new eyes”
–Marcel Proust

Next 5  Steps

  1. Draw a Diagram. The next step is to draw a diagram of something that you are curious about. By making it a diagram you take the pressure off of it being a pretty picture. Use arrows, words, and numbers to add information that you can not convey with the image itself.
  2. Ask more questions. This is one of the most powerful tools of nature journaling. By practicing asking questions we sharpen our ability to learn new things.
  3. Stop before you are done. While you might be tempted to push yourself at first it is actually best to stop while you are still having fun. Start by giving yourself short outings that leave you wanting more. Like the small servings at a fancy restaurant.
  4. Get yourself an Ice Cream. Now that you have completed a session of nature journaling get yourself a reward. You deserve it and by rewarding yourself you will help ingrain this new habit.
  5. Review your work and share it: When you get home you can accelerate your learning by reviewing it, researching further, and getting feedback from others. What do you notice about your pages? What could be better? Can you think of more questions? Are there parts you would like to add color to now that you are home? Are there things you want to research further? Now is also a time that you could draw more detailed drawings based on photos you took on the outing, especially of fast moving birds or insects that you could not capture in the field. Sharing online and getting feedback from other nature journalers will also help you a lot.

how to nature journal

Nature Journaler Interview

As a nature journaler I am always curious how others got started nature journaling. And what about you? Do you ever wonder about the story behind the nature journalers whose sketches and paintings you see online? In this episode of The Nature Journal Show we learn about Melinda Nakagawa, her experience with nature sketching, nature education, and how she started a new nature journal club in Monterey California!

The first thing that I was impressed by in our conversation was that Melinda started nature journaling in 1998 since the term nature journaling has not been around for that long. Her first nature journal pages were from a whale watching trip. Before this however she was already an avid note taker and had used journaling in a diary sort of way.

After nature journaling on her own for some time her husband bought her a book by Clare Walker Leslie. Soon after that she also got the nature journaling book by Hannah Hinchman. Now she could see that other people were nature journaling too. A little bit later she got the book by John Muir Laws. While all of these books inspired her it was the Wild Wonder nature journaling conference in 2019 that really lit her up. Because of the incredible feeling of the nature journaing community at that event she decided to start her own nature journal club where she lived in Monterey California.

Four Nature Journaler Tips

1. First of all combine nature journaling with your existing interests. Melinda grew her nature journal practice from her birding and marine biology practices.

2. Next, build your skills of existing skills. Are you a note taker or a poet? Do you draw diagrams for work? Are you a data scientist? How can you use your existing skills in your nature journal?

3. Third, connect with community. By connecting with community you will get more motivation and you will learn faster. In addition, it is much more fun! Melinda got a huge burst of inspiration after she went to the Wild Wonder Nature Journaling Conference. Community can be online too.

4. Last but not least, start teaching nature journaling. Even if you are a beginner nature journaler there are people who are more new to it than you. By sharing what you have learned so far you will accelerate your own learning and reinforce your skills. Start before you are ready.

For more about Melinda and her work check out her page here.
Nature journaler page from Melinda Nakagawa
Poppy Timeline from Nature Journaler Melinda Nakagawa

For more tips for nature journal newbies check out this video here.

 

 

Journal in the Majestic Old Growth Redwoods!

Do you want to explore the majesty of giant redwoods and discover the botanical and biological treasures that grow nestled beneath them? Now is your chance to experience this calming environment while capturing it in your nature journal because on March 8th I will be leading a field trip to Landpath’s Grove of Old Trees in Occidental!  This preserve is a a secret gem in West Sonoma County and has a calming effect on all who visit.

RSVP  is required for this special class limited to 15 people. Please contact me directly at marley339 at gmail.com

In this class I will teach art topics including: how to accurately draw trees that have depth, how to incorporate bold stylistic motifs into your pages, and how to drop into a meditative flow in your journaling. I will also talk about Natural history topics: the ecology and reproduction of redwood trees and their evolutionary history.

The weather is likely to be buffered by the trees but will mostly be shady, humid and cool. Wear layers.  We will not be walking much but the the trails are wide, easy, and many of them are wheelchair or scooter accessible. Wear comfortable shoes, bring a folding stool if you have one that you like, a potluck item to share, utensils for yourself and water to drink. There is no bathroom on site.

We will meet at 10 am in the parking lot. Look for people standing around with sketchbooks.  Potluck lunch around 12:30.

Be prepared for the calming effect of the old growth forest shared with like-minded people in a beautiful setting. If rain is in the forecast I will contact you about backup plans.

RSVP  is required for this special class limited to 15 people. Please contact me directly at marley339 at gmail.com. If you have not communicated with me directly you are not registered for this class.

$20 suggested donation. No one turned away for lack of funds.

The last few country roads are very small and narrow, you may feel lost but just drive slow and trust the directions. Maybe give yourself more time for the drive than your navigation app suggests. We will be waiting for you in the parking lot.

North Bay Nature Journaling Paradise!

People who live in the North Bay are in luck! Because the San Francisco Bay Area is the epicenter of the Nature Journaling movement! If you live in Sonoma, Napa, Solano, or Marin you also know we have tons of beautiful parks and natural areas to explore. As a result, I consider the North Bay a Nature Journaling paradise!

Nature Journaling classes and clubs in our area:

  • As you probably know, I lead the Monthly Nature Journaling fieldtrips with the North Bay Nature Journal Club, usually in Sonoma and Marin. See the calendar here.
  • There is also the newly formed Napa Valley Nature Journal Club. Check out their Facebook page here. If you live and nature journal in the Napa Valley you can help this club grow.
  • Short Monthly Classes with John Muir Laws where he goes over specific techniques. See his calendar here. And he also leads a field trip near the end of every month sometimes in the north bay but also in the East and South Bay.

Here are my top three North Bay nature journaling spots for 2020!

  1. Abbot’s Lagoon in the Point Reyes National Seashore. This incredible location has it all: sand dunes, biodiversity, seabirds, otters, and beautiful vistas. It is a little bit of a drive if you are coming from Santa Rosa or Vallejo or Napa but it is definitely worth it for a half day or more nature journaling adventure.
  2. Sonoma Baylands Trail on San Pablo Bay. This central location is gonna be a relatively short drive from most towns. It is a wonderful place to marvel at the marshlands that used to surround the entire Bay Area. There are many seabirds and weird plants here too. Even though it is a short drive from the city you will feel peaceful here.
  3. Helen Putnam Regional Park. I have led the North Bay Nature Journal Club to this location several times. It is easy to get to but has beautiful oak savanna landscapes and wonderful old trees. It can get very hot so plan accordingly.
painting at helen putnam park one of my favorite north bay nature journaling locations
nature journaling at helen putnam photo by @amycycles

Nature Journal Weird Carnivorous Plants!

Do you want to escape the cold and the rain to go on a nature journaling vacation to a tropical rain forest in February? You are in luck because on February 9th I will be leading a nature journaling field trip inside the bio-diverse greenhouses at California Carnivores in Sebastopol! This local business contains arguably the biggest collection of carnivorous plants in the world. Not only are these plants fascinating to study and beautiful to draw but many of them are also endangered. They also have many orchids, bromeliads, liverworts, and mosses.

RSVP  is required for this special class limited to 15 people. Please contact me directly at marley339 at gmail.com

In this class I will teach topics including: how to quickly capture the essence of complex shapes in our drawings, how to draw things we are intimidated by, and how to nature journal in visually overwhelming or information-dense settings.

The weather will be relatively mild, humid, and warm inside the greenhouses. Hats will be useful if it is sunny. We will not be walking much but the floor is uneven and made of gravel. Wear comfortable shoes, bring a folding stool if you have one that you like, a potluck item to share, utensils for yourself and water to drink. There is a bathroom on site. Unfortunately, this site is not wheelchair or scooter friendly.

We will meet at 10 am in the parking lot. Look for people standing around with sketchbooks.  Potluck lunch around 12:30.

Be prepared for mind-boggling plant forms and colors as well as a good dose of novelty-induced dopamine!

RSVP  is required for this special class limited to 15 people. Please contact me directly at marley339 at gmail.com

$20 suggested donation. No one turned away for lack of funds.

Nature Journal and Sketch at Balboa Park!

On December 21st I will be leading a completely FREE field trip at the world famous Balboa Park in San Diego! We will start at the Lily Pond and Botanical Building and sketch and botanize our way past the giant fig tree to the Desert garden on the other side of Park Avenue.

The goal of this field trip will be to bring together some of the sketchers and nature journalers that are in San Diego and have fun together in a beautiful place! We will mostly be looking at plants but be prepared for our curiosity and luck to lead us to pretty birds or bugs. For the instructional portion of the class I will give tips on designing attractive page layouts, keys to drawing trees, and drawing little landscapes.

We will meet at 10am at the Lily Pond. Look for people standing around with sketchbooks. Hold your sketchbook so that others will recognize you. Bring a hat, sunscreen, field sketching supplies, binoculars, plenty of water and a potluck item to share. Potluck will be at 12:30 near the fig tree in front of the Natural History Museum.

Our basic route for the day.

The best place to park is probably near the natural history museum. From there you can walk to the Lily Pond. This trip is scooter and wheelchair friendly, we will not hike long distances. It will probably be a crowded time of year so there will be a lot of people. As usual be prepared for stimulating your curiosity, sharpening your artistic skills, and having fun with like-minded people!