Join me on a nature journal adventure with my friend and fellow nature journaler JP! It was Superbowl Sunday but we decided to nature journal instead. We saw a dead whale, we saw mergansers, and we even saw a crawdad and cliff-growing succulents.
Just Start Somewhere
Nature journaling in a new element is not easy. I made a whole video about how to nature journal from a kayak and I am still not totally comfortable. You will see how I struggle even getting started when you watch the video. I paddle around looking for a better angle. What should I draw? Where should I park my kayak? Should I nature journal from the shore?
“Start before you’re ready.”
The most important thing is to just get your journal out and start getting something down on the page. Getting started can be especially hard under the following nature journal adventure circumstances:
You are not physically comfortable
The environment is distracting
There are too many options to nature journal
You are worried about your materials getting lost or damaged
The art supplies you usually use are not conducive to the adventure
The best solution to all these problems is to clarify your intentions before you go, simplify your materials, and start making marks on your page as soon as possible.
Let’s go nature journaling at the beach! It’s Labor Day weekend in the U.S. and thousands of families are going to the coast. Why not bring your nature journals and make it a learning adventure?
Whether you have a family or not taking your nature journal to the beach is a great activity. In this video I give you tips and techniques that will help you make the most of it. You should definitely watch the video. However, I am going to outline some of the tips for you right here.
Tips for Nature Journaling at the Beach
First, set an intention before you go. What is your main goal? Is nature journaling your main purpose or are you adding nature journaling to a fun day with the family? Being clear about this will help you avoid frustration or disappointment later on.
Next, don’t bring too much stuff! What is actually essential for your intention? If you know your priorities then this step is easier. A good chair is worth it, especially if you are prioritizing birding or painting landscapes.
Third, protect yourself from the sun. One in every five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime according to Skin Cancer Foundation Statistics! The rate is even higher in Australia and New Zealand. Sun exposure will also strain your eyes and tire you out. You might be telling yourself you suck at drawing seagulls or you have no energy to nature journal but you might just be exhausted from the sun.
Next, look for interesting subjects in the tide pools or where people are fishing. These are especially good tactics if you nature journal better with exciting and dynamic subjects. Otherwise, you might just want to chill in your chair and paint a landscape.
Don’t forget that the water is not the only thing to look at. What is happening in the sand? What kind of plant communities are in the transition areas?
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!
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.
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.
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.
I’m excited to be doing my first collaboration with the Pepperwood Preserve this year! On August 24th I will be teaching “Seeing More Through Nature Journaling” at their incredible 3,200 acre property. I went to a reptile walk there a couple months ago so I could nature journal and scope the place out. The vistas were impressive and fun to draw and I got in quick sketches of a blue-tailed skink, a pileated woodpecker, and a scorpion!
There are only a few people signed up for the class right now and if more don’t sign up we might have to cancel. If you know anyone who is interested please share with them.
The class is from 9am until 2pm. Bring nature journaling supplies such as sketchbook, pencil, watercolors if you have them and a backback or shoulder bag to carry them. Binoculars and small folding stools could also be useful. Be prepared for sun and heat by wearing a hat, applying sunscreen and bringing water. We will be walking less than a mile on relatively even hiking trails with some hills.Bring a lunch to eat on the trail.
I’m super excited to be collaborating with the biodiverse pollinator sanctuary Hallberg Butterfly Gardens! We will be offering an introduction to nature journaling course at their site in Sebastopol. Insects and pollinators are not only fascinating to study and draw but they play a huge part in our ecosystems and have been seriously endangered in recent years. As nature journalers, our observations can play an important role in citizen science and creating a record of these species in our areas.
Supplies will be included! The class is offered at a sliding scale. $45 minimum to register. Please use the ticket link or contact us to sign up. email@example.com (707)823-3420
In June, the North Coast Nature Journal Club is privileged to enjoy the peak of the pitcher plants at California Carnivores in Sonoma County! This nursery contains the largest collection of carnivorous plants in the world and June will be a perfect time to see the amazing species of pitcher plants at their best! If you think you have already nature journaled once at this location and don’t need to go twice – think again. We will focus on drawing and learning about carnivorous plants in general and Sarracenia pitcher plants in particular. We will also practice composition strategies and tips for nature journaling in information dense environments.
The weather will be relatively mild and probably comfortable 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, scooters or wheelchairs can be accommodated. Wear comfortable shoes, bring a folding stool if you have one, a potluck item to share, utensils for yourself and water to drink. There is a bathroom on site.
We will meet at 10 am in the parking lot. Look for people standing around with sketchbooks. Bring a potluck item to share for lunch around 12:30. You can leave food in your car.
$20 suggested donation.
This class is limited to 12 people. Please email me to reserve your spot.
As usual be prepared to get super-curious in nature and connect with like minded people!
Here is a picture of Akshay nature journaling surrounded by pitchers last year!