Nature Journaling Reptiles

Nature journaling reptiles is one of my favorite things! Let’s sketch and learn about these animals together with Rachael from Doodlebugs animal adventures. Rachael will share Russian tortoises, weird frogs, as well as a legless lizard! In addition, I will share some other reptile nature journal pages below.

Rachael Wallman is a biologist, mom, and animal lover. She runs Doodlebugs Animal Adventures an animal education business. There are a lot of cool animals living in her house. However, for today’s show we are just going to focus on the reptiles and amphibians.

Nature Journaling Reptiles when they keep moving?!

By this point you might be asking: “How can I draw moving animals?” While Rachael holds up her animals and shares info about them I do my best to capture quick sketches and notes. Here are several tricks I use in this situation:

  1. First, start as soon as possible. The longer you wait to start sketching and nature journaling the harder it will be to start.
  2. Next, think of your drawings as diagrams instead of as definitive works of art. Diagrams can be drawn quickly and capture lots of info.
  3. Draw fast. Draw a lot. Similarly to the last point this takes pressure off your drawing. In reality, if you just keep your pencil moving and you keep looking at your subject then you are succeeding. You are learning. That is what nature journaling is all about.
  4. Fourth, don’t get obsessed with details. Many amphibians and especially reptiles are covered in complex patterns and textures. Trying to capture these details from a moving animal will drive you crazy. Instead, try to capture gesture drawings of the basic shapes and essence of the animal.

    nature journaling reptiles at the san francisco zoo where they have a komodo dragon, the largest living lizard in the world. I use many quick sketches to try to capture the essence of this reptile as I try to draw it live. It was moving a lot. I added the color afterwards to the drawing.
    I kept my pen moving as I tried to capture the shapes of this komodo dragon as it kept moving. I added the color afterwards.
  5. Break your subject up and focus on small parts at a time. For example try just drawing the eye over and over again.
nature journaling reptiles is easier when you try to focus on small parts at a time. You can draw just they lizard eye over and over again for example.
Nature Journal Page of Polychrus marmoratus aka monkey lizard
The Reptiles we nature journaled in this episode
  • The Russian Tortoise was the first reptile we nature journaled in this episode.
  • Rachael took out her big adult gopher snake next! This one was moving slightly less than the tortoise but presented other challenges.
  • We looked at her Crested Gecko next! This animal was super fun and kept licking its eyeball and jumping onto the camera!
  • Then it was finally time for an amphibian with a “Dumpy Frog.”
  • Last but not least we nature journaled a legless lizard!

Learn more about Rachael’s animals and learn from her entertaining posts on her instagram

Do you live in the Orange County area of California? I suggest you check out Rachaels in-person classes or bring her to your school, library, etc! Kids love them! Learn more here.

nature journaling reptiles and how to draw reptiles with doodlebugs animal adventures

If you are just getting started with nature journaling check out this post : 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

Here are some more example pages of nature journaling reptiles in other situations
example page of nature journaling reptiles looking at a live lizard and doing many sketches trying to capture the head shape of this Uranoscodon superciliosus aka mophead iguana.
Nature journal page drawings of a Uranoscodon superciliosus aka mophead iguana. This species was not moving much but I still used some of the same tactics outlined above.
nature journaling reptiles example page showing snake drawings I did from life of captive amazonian puffing snake
Part of a nature journal page showing sketches of puffing snake heads. You can see how I added details to some of the gesture sketches. Despite the fact that this snake was not moving much I still used the same tactics mentioned for how to draw moving reptiles.
nature journaling rattlesnake juvenile in the field.
Here is a page where the reptile was not moving much but I still had a short amount of time to nature journal because it was a field-herping trip. You can see that I separate my drawings, focusing on different elements of the rattlesnake in different micro-drawings. I do several small drawings of the head. I do a side view of the pattern and I even do a drawing showing the snake on a rock and my friend’s hand offering it water.

The Polychrus, Uranascodon, and Amazonian Puffing snake were all nature journaled in the reptile room of my friend Roy. You can check out his herpetoculture practice and species in his care on instagram here. If you are interested in nature journaling reptiles it is a good option to find people who raise reptiles and ask to visit their reptile room. Another option is to go to reptile shows or herpetology clubs.

Eaten Alive to Save the Jungle?

I recently finished reading “Mother of God,” by the guy who tried to get himself swallowed by an anaconda on the Discovery Channel. I must admit, I did not know about the stunt when I checked the book out from the library and started following Paul Rosolie on Instagram.

As you might expect from the star of a Discovery Channel special called “eaten alive,” the book portrays a sensational, extreme, version of nature with plenty of hyperbolic descriptions and close encounters with death and danger.

However, if Paul Rosolie did all this as a stunt to bring attention and money to the conservation of the Madre de Dios region in Peru, then perhaps the ends justify the means.

I wish the book were more well-written or at least if the editors had worked a little harder on it before sending it off to the presses. Paul Rosolie obviously has better things to do than polish his prose but that does not excuse Harper Collins.

Nevertheless, I read the full book, and I read it fast. I recommend you at least check it out.

Share Your Work!

You might remember your math teacher telling you that the answer was important but “showing your work” was also part of the points on a test. As it turns out, your math teacher was right. This principle still applies today, especially for creative professionals such as visual artists. Social media takes sharing your work to a whole ‘nother level.

This concept was driven home to me by Austin Kleon in his aptly named book  Show Your Work . I found out about Austin Kleon thanks to Chase Jarvis.

An image from Kleon’s book.

I am an avid learner of new things and  my goal right now is to keep my sharing/teaching as up to date with my current passions and studies as possible. It is easy to want to wait until I am an expert about something before posting videos on youtube about it. However, Austin Kleon has convinced me that it is better to learn from a passionate student than a cynical and jaded old expert.

Right now,  I am most passionate about learning as much as I can about herpetoculture, snakes, bioactive vivaria, and the scaping of functional and aesthetic miniature ecosystems.

Here is a recent youtube video I made about this exciting learning process that I knew nothing about 6 months ago:

 

What are you passionate about right now? Are you avidly learning about it? Could you be sharing your process more?

 

For more of the benefits of showing your work check out this short video about the book: