Since 1980 I have kept journals. They are prized possessions. They have primarily been used to record observations, experiences, thoughts, poems, and phenological data. I would often sketch but writing was primarily the task. The last several years I have used the hibernation of winter to do more sketching.
During this past winter of 2014-2015, I decided to focus on improving my ability to sketch in my journal by sketching several times a week, studying my books, reading blogs, watching videos, and joining the Facebook page, The Nature Journal Club. I surprised myself. I enjoy this greatly and have continued now into late fall. It has been liberating. I enjoy the freedom it allows me. With my photography (which I still love), I have to carry heavy equipment which becomes tiring and limits me at times to where I go and how far I can travel. I also felt a little vulnerable being out alone with all the equipment. Now I grab my field bag and binoculars and I am out the door.
I need to share a disclaimer about nature journaling. I do not consider my journals works of art. It is NOT about being a great artist or having a depth of knowledge on the skills of drawing, colored pencils, and watercolors. It IS about the experience-- being observant, documenting what you see, asking questions, being curious, and sketching/journaling often. It is also about shutting up the inner critic that loves to squash your creativity. So if you think you can not do this, you are wrong. You do not have to be born with a “talent” for drawing. It can be developed through practice and the desire to journal. I do it for me. No one else. I don’t care if others “like it”. Do it for yourself.
I am seeing differently these days. Instead of the eyes of the photographer-- seeing compositionally and frame-wise, I am really seeing my subjects. I see shapes and parts of the body/structure and how they all connect with each other to create the whole bird, tree, plant, etc. I notice the subtleties of color, shadow, and posture. It is new territory and I love it.
I enjoy thumbing through my journals because I immediately see my observations, experiences, and the phenology of the season unfold visually. I am doing much more sketching than writing but am still recording my observations.
When nature journaling I prefer working with pen, colored pencils, or watercolor pencils and paints. So for now when I find time to add to my blog, I will take the reader along on a walk and share my observations from my nature journal. I hope you will enjoy it.