Resources on Nature Journaling

Watercolor Brush 19
Books

There are only a few books on nature journaling. There are books on nature studies and nature drawing. Here are our top picks. Given the exchange rate, these books can be expensive. Consider asking your local library to order them. Then you and others can benefit from these special resources.

 

  • "The Laws Guide to Nature Drawing and Journaling" by John Muir Laws, 2016. 

  • "Make a Date with Nature: An introduction to nature journaling" by Paula Peeters.

        An excellent, brief introduction. Available for free from her website.

Scroll down her home page to request the ebook.

 

  • "Keeping a Nature Journal: Discover a Whole New Way of Seeing the World Around You" 

        by Clare Walker Leslie and Charles E. Roth, 2nd edition 2003.

  •  "How to Keep a Naturalist's Notebook" by Susan Leigh Tomlinson 2010

  • "Artist's Journal Workshop: Creating Your Life in Words and Pictures Paperback”

        by Cathy Johnson, June 2011.

  •  “Field Notes on Science & Nature” editor Michael R. Canfield, 2011.

        If you are interested in science, this is a brilliant book. It is not a how-to, but rather a collection of

        essays on field notes by professionals in different fields.

Websites

The internet hosts excellent resources on how to nature journal. With the COVID-19 pandemic, local in-person nature journaling classes and outings were put on hold. Schooling in some parts of the world went online as did environmental education programmes, adding to the resources available from the homeschooling movement. A few stand apart. None of these are Southern African specific, but all have wells of knowledge, insights and styles that you can personalise and from which you can grow.

Donna L. Long's website stands out for its combination of ways to nature journal:

  • the basics of how to nature journal here

 

  • the Grinnell method here

 

  • Seasonal rounds here and here - are a naturalist tool and an ethnographic technique using a  "... diagram of harvesting times of plants and animals which feed, heal and are useful to humans living in a specific place." 

 

  • Phenology - the what, how and as deep ecology of tracking seasonal changes and the life cycles of plants, animals and fungi

 

  • Citizen science here

She uses photos and shares tips on nature photography. Many of her blog posts are inspired by

her own nature journal entries observing life around her home and in a community ecological gardens (Delaware River Valley in the City of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania). Her writing covers ecology, natural history, ethics and environmental justice issues.

"By being mindful of what we do,
we are not saving the Earth,
we are saving life on Earth, including ourselves.
We can’t take, take, take without giving something in turn.
I try to highlight our symbiotic role with the land in my writings." 

Paula Peeters' website Paperbark Writer where "Australian nature meets science and art".

Check out this post: in which she adds the prompt "It makes me feel..." to the well recognised triology: "I notice... I wonder .. It reminds me of ...".  Her entries are distinctive with a style that is whimsical, engaging and varied. Scroll through her blog entries for inspiration and smiles!

 

John Muir (aka Jack) Laws  website contains hundreds of videos and posts on the what, why, and how of nature journaling. He works with others to 

1. The Nature Journal Connection   Free educational video series (first video posted in October 2020) Forty 15-min nature journaling workshops "featuring fun and engaging activities that build the skills of a scientist, naturalist, artist, and observer." They plan to release one each week through July 2021. "Appropriate for children of all ages as well as adults, this program connects science, language arts, math, visual arts, critical thinking, mindfulness, wonder, curiosity, and joy."

2. Workshop Sessions and videos - There are now over 450 blog posts and videos on his website - up from about 350 just over a year ago!  Pre-COVID-19 videos are mostly 90 minutes long. They were recorded at the monthly workshops he conducted for the Bay Area Nature Journaling Club. Replacing the in-person workshops, now he hosts three weekly virtual workshops and discussion forums. This makes the live sessions available to more people. Plus he has changed the starting time to 7.00 pm South African time.

  • Tuesdays are “Ask Jack” with virtual "open office hours where you come with your nature top journaling questions that we troubleshoot together."

  • Thursdays are The Nature Journal Workshop. "A deep dive into the details of drawing and journaling strategies. Be sure to check the event description each week for the topic and supply list and sometimes downloadable classroom materials.

  • Wednesdays are the Nature Journaling Educator Forum with "nature journaling educators from around the globe for a discussion of best practices and teaching strategies."

 

These sessions are recorded and available through his website and youtube channel. 

For new blog posts check Recent Blogs which is currently updated at least weekly. For past blog posts and videos check his Blog Archives.

The topics cover how to record

many subjects:

      sounds, plants, animals of land and water, fungi, landscapes, water

phenomenon:

      wildfire, weather, solstices and equinoxes, sunsets

with different medium:

      graphite, ballpoint pens, coloured pencils, watercolour, gouache and markers 

on different surfaces:

      white, toned and stipple paper, and frosted mylar

using a wide variety of techniques:

     writing, numbers, diagramming, mapping, doodling, drawing, infographics, maps, step-by-

     step process, timelines and more.

ways of thinking and journaling like a naturalist, a scientist, a poet and an artist

Here is a shortlist of where to start:

  • ​​Introduction to Nature Journaling  The video workshop is a great orientation to nature journaling. It covers what it is, how to start and keep nature journaling, and how to set up you nature journaling kit. Also, check out the blog archives for the most extensive and generous learning pot on the internet.

 

  • Curiosity video workshop “Curiosity is not a trait you are born with. It is a skill that you can develop and refine with practice. It is more essential than any drawing trick or tool and can make a nature journal burst to life.”

  • Paying Attention blog post reflecting on David Sibley’s discovery about juncos. “What is significant to me about this is that rather than being jaded by familiarity, he is still, and perhaps more than ever, open to discovery.

  • The Dyslexic Naturalist with blog post John Muir Laws is a major inspiration for this website and Nature Journaling South Africa. He is dyslexic. He writes about it here. He is a role model for all those with reading difficulties and learning challenges.

 

3. Promoting an international nature journaling movement, his website also has a section with tips and tools for joining or starting your own nature journal club. One of these tools is a map where you can find a club, or make a link to your group, if it is not already there.

4. Annually: 5 day Wild Wonder Conference and 2 day Wild Wonder Teachers' Conference

Aka Jack appreciates donations for most of the work he makes available at no charge. If you can afford to support, the suggested amount is US$20 (ZAR300). However, the Wild Wonder Conferences is not free. Here are the reasons given:

 

"One of the key goals of the Wild Wonder Nature Journaling Conference is to publicize and support the development of more nature journaling teachers across the US and around the world, and in that spirit, all of our teachers are paid for their time. Our evening speakers are also respected professionals in their fields, and we pay them for their time as well. Lastly, managing this complicated live event takes many people many hundreds of hours, and our event team is also paid for their time. Your ticket cost helps support all of the members of this community who work hard to bring you this event, and it also raises money for others to attend our event for a reduced cost. Thank you for your support!"

International Nature Journaling Week, started in 2020 by Beth Burton and Jules Woolford, this is an 8-day programme with daily workshops and prompts. See the dozens of 40 blog posts from different nature journalers on:

  • fungi

  • using digital drawing 

  • nature journaling with all ages 

  • teaching nature journaling

  • personal journeys and formation of groups 

  • curiosity and nature 

  • why nature journal

  • nature journal without fear

 

Scrolling through these blogs is a wonderful way to see a wide range of styles!

How to Teach Nature Journaling

​These resources include activities that can be used in teaching others, and for developing your own practice.

  • "How to Teach Nature Journaling" by John Muir (aka Jack) Laws and Emilie Lygren May 2020. If you can afford to support the authors, please purchase the book. If not, during the pandemic, it can be downloaded at no charge from either Emilie’s or Jack’s website.

  • How to Teach Nature Journaling website accompaniment to the above book, with videos demonstrations and downloads on 31 Outdoor activities and "Teaching Support including group engagement and management, offer meaningful, supportive feedback, choose activities appropriate for your goals and setting, integrate journaling into lessons and units; and connect to educational standards and frameworks, including the Common Core, the NGSS, Charlotte-Mason Inspired Education, Waldorf Education, and more."

Blog posts with useful tips and perspectives

Community
Nature Journal Groups

Look for a group near you look on "Aka Jack's" (John Muir Laws) website here to view a map with clubs in different parts of the world, and tips on how to start a nature journal club.

Social Media

Facebook Nature Journal Group has more than 38,000 members as of 3 October 2021. That's double the number in 1 January 2021. Look for posts especially from 

  • Marianne de Jager - classic style, delightful and South African

  • Akshay Mahajan 

  • Gargi Chugh

  • Yvea Moore - habitat rehabilitation

  • Amy Schleser - diagrams, doodling and visual vocabulary

  • Kathy Rutter - sketchnotes and awesome perspectives

  • Denis Nord - environmental educator

  • Stephanie Dole - bug lady

  • Laurie Wigham - expressive style

  • Marcelo Jost - figuring out what's happening

  • Jacob Carr

  • Nor Martin - art of birds

  • Heather Crellin - citizen science

  • Bellis Perennis - science sides of botany and habitats