Nature Drawing and Journaling

A few years ago I bought The Laws Guide to Nature Drawing and Journaling, written and illustrated by John Muir Laws, but then I moved house, unpacked it onto a shelf with my sketchpads, and promptly forgot about it. On day 251 of 365 Days Wild I found it again.

It was a perfect day to spend indoors, sat by the fire with a book and a sketchpad. Snow occasionally flurried outside, but it failed to settle and mainly fell as sleet – at least until after dark. It didn’t make me want to spend much time out doors. It meant that I could devote lots of time to the guide book.

It’s a beautiful and informative book, with sections on keeping a nature journal and guides for drawing all sorts of different things, including wildflowers, trees, animals and landscapes.

There are lots of sections that caught my eye, and several that thoroughly engrossed me.

Other than a few years of art lessons at school, my art is mainly self-taught. The instructions included in the book will be very useful. The section about customising your watercolour palette, in particular, made me go, ‘Oh, that makes sense’. My palette has always just been a mess.

I’ve frequently considered starting a nature journal, but have never really known where to start. This book lays out lots of ideas regarding the types of content that you can include, including lists, maps, observations, diagrams and questions. One suggestion is to include a daily sketch of a single flower, showing its whole life cycle, an idea that I find very appealing. There are lots of good sections on techniques for drawing flowers, trees, insects and animals

I was very inspired by the sections on drawing birds…

…so much so that I decided to spend some time watching and sketching the Collared Dove that is frequently to be seen on the bird feeder outside the living room window, which is right next to where I sit. I limited myself to pencil this time, but compiled a page of sketches and observations.

Much of the detail, I have to admit, was added through use of Google images. Unfortunately the dove didn’t stay around long enough for me to observe it that closely!

Have you ever considered keeping a nature journal? Let me know in the comments below.

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