Thursday, August 18, 2016

Nature Sketch Journaling

Inspired by some books about Nature Journaling which I had brought to our Sketchers' Group, I found myself recently drawn to a chaotic, even junky field of "weeds" during a foggy morning walk. The fog moistens colors & guides my eyes to objects up close, the books remind me to observe small  things. I was astounded by the Queen Anne's Lace, & by the changes she is going through as we move increasingly quickly toward autumn.

Having my portable watercolor set-up more figured out, it is easier to stop spontaneously to sketch. The water bottle hangs in a bag at my side, the small watercolor box rests on the book. As I walk, the book & pen stay out of the bag, prepared for sudden stops. 

 In Season: A Natural History of the New England Year states that the myth that New England has 4 distinct seasons is not true, because there are "as many seasons as one wants to make of them, innumerable happenings that run into each other". Changes are varied: matings, bloomings, migrations, emergences, hibernations, deaths...The Queen Anne's Lace was showing a number of simultaneous changes: One disc was slightly curling in like an upside down umbrella, others were closed up in round cage like forms with dark burgandy seeds arranged in round patterns...
Clare Walker Leslie's Keeping a Nature Journal is a "bible" on nature sketch journaling. 
All of her books are artistically & scientifically pleasing & inspiring. 
Hannah Hinchman is another guru of the nature, or illuminated journal. Leslie was one of her mentors. Hinchman talks about the magic transformation that occurs while walking & observing in A Life in Hand:
"In the early stages of a walk, colors seem only pleasant & ordinary. 
If I am outdoors long enough...all the colors begin to become more brilliant & distinct..."

Frederick Franck, in The Zen of Seeing:
"For the awakened eye, nothing remains a mere thing. It reveals itself to be, 
instead of an object, an event, in the timeless abyss of time. " 

Queen Anne's Lace, on my foggy morning definitelly became a magical event!
 Welcome to New Zealand, meant for young readers, is super inspiring with various "walks" & ways to organize observations. Lovely, colorful handlettering is an integral part of the pages. 

Clare Walker Leslie:
 "Nature offers us a thousand simple pleasures~plays of light & color, frangrances in the air, the sun's warmth on skin & muscle, the audible rhythm of life's pull & push~all for the price of merely paying attention."


  1. I love your art..but you know that:) 7.30 AM?
    I am in bed..fully awake for a long time..but I stay till 7.45:)
    Queen Ann's Lace..does change so much..and yes all of a miracle.Not floods etc.. but the unfurling of nature in a gentle the book recommendations also!

  2. Dear Rita your sketches are just lovely. Queen Anne's Lace is a favorite of mine. You managed to capture the changes so well. Going to look for both of the books you mentioned. May have to add them to my growing list of art books: )! Have a super weekend. Hugs!

  3. I love the quotes--so very true. So many things become beautiful and amazing when we take the time to really look at them. Your sketches, as always, are charming. I have a couple of the books you've mentioned--they were part of the reason I originally wanted to learn to sketch and paint.

  4. A brilliant post . . .both inspirational and informative. xx


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