We should not expect to
make perfect art in our journals, instead
we should expect some
great journeys. (me)
Nature Journaling: Drawing from you window
Since March, I've been teaching Zoom classes on sketching and drawing. In particular,we've been exploring the nature journal. Up to a few weeks ago, we were under orders to be inside, so we did a lot of work from our windows--both in the house and the car. While things have loosened up a bit, we're still continuing the same journey. Fortunately, we can get out more and take pictures or spend some time observing the real, natural beauty around us.
This type of journaling seems endless with possibilities. Nature itself is filled with a plethora of subjects: flowers, birds, squirrels, fruits, vegetables, trees, herbs, grasses, weeds, rocks, butterflies, bees and so on. In fact, what I've learned so far, is that nature is usually all around us in one way or the other. Even living in a high rise, you'll see insects, plants on your deck (or someone else's) and birds.
Why from the window? Well, during these times when we're supposed to keep our distance and wear masks, it seems prudent to begin from your window. I began this journey back in 2011. It was a dreary winter. Gray, gray skies, seemingly blue mood. I picked up my journal and began drawing what I saw outside my studio window--dating it, commenting on the weather, even going to the Internet to learn more about what I was seeing.
Look above,that's my first journal page back in February of 2011. (You should be able to enlarge the drawing by clicking on it.) You'll notice it's not fancy, just some simple drawings and comments. Although it may not seem like much, when you are stuck inside on a cold winter's day, the journal fills you with a connection otherwise lost.
The next day, I went to my window again and created another page. This one talked about all the birds in the yard and also how much I was wishing for spring. Then, my curiosity was nudged, well, more like pushed. I wanted to learn more about the birds I was seeing that day. So I went online and found four of them: scrub jay, dark-eyed junco, nut hatch and house sparrow. Except for my art journaling where I use collage, painting and words, I seldom used pictures in my other journals. I was so excited about what I learned. I printed out the photos of each bird from Wikipedia (for personal use only), pasted them inside my journal and then wrote what I learned about each bird.
This may seem silly, but suddenly my journal was more than sketches, thoughts, paint, words. It became a study for me. I went from subject to subject learning more about what I was observing as well as what I was translating in my journal through art and words.
What's more, I didn't care what my artwork looked like. This was MINE. I wasn't going to exhibit it, try to sell it or even submit it in a contest. This was my journey with my journal. It changed over the years. Depending on my mood, I would go real tight with the illustrations or go simply wild. It just doesn't matter.
That first year, in April the sun finally came out. It was so gloomy. But to be honest nine years later, I really don't remember the gloom. That's another reason this type of journaling is great because you have a record of what was happening outside your window.
Going through my journals to prepare for this article was fun. I'm amazed how much I experimented and tried different techniques. In a way, my nature journals seem to have been my laboratory. A place to learn, to grow and to relax.
A few years later around the same time, I wrote about daffodils and how I painted the flower in the journal.
That same year I started to do more detailed studies.
So what is a nature journal? It's really what you make it. You write, paint, draw, cut and paste and just be you.
From start in March, we have studied all sorts of subjects online from amphibians to vegetables. Since my classes are in the middle of the week and during the day, it's hard for folks to take them. So I'm going to give you a list again the may help you get through the next 30 days. Even though we are able to get out and about more, most of us are still being careful by staying inside, so maybe this nature journal challenge will help.
- Tomatoes on the vine
- Corn stalks, corn on the cob
- Watermelon, inside and out
- Calla lilies
- Tiger lilies
- Backyard tree (or in front)
- Tree bark
- Lavender bush
- Water in a glass
- Lawn chair
- Lounge chair
- Melon cut open
- Bird Bath
- Scrub jay
- Bird feeder
Some photo resources
Don't have some of the stuff on this list in your front or back yards, then go up to the following places to get free photos to use:
These are the sites I use to capture the subjects I want to work on. In fact, even if I have the object on hand, I'll go up and find a photo just for details.
Want to learn more about nature journaling? Join us on Zoom. It really is easier than we all thought, and you get to see all my demonstrations up close and personal!
10 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.
$90 per class, per five-week session
Creating a Nature Journal from Your Window
Media: Pencil, pen, colored pencils,
watercolor (paint and pencil) and gouache Supply list provided upon registration
Tuesday mornings: July 28--August 25
Wednesday mornings: July 29--August 26 (full)