Nature journaling is a great way to connect with the natural habitats near where you live. It’s the process of sketching, painting, and writing about natural subjects that you encounter while exploring the outdoors.
There are no rules to nature journaling. It can be a personal reflection made up of your thoughts and feelings about what you observe. Or you can become a scientist and record all the different phenomena you witness matter-of-factly.
Whatever you choose, there is no shortage of ways to create a beautiful and unique journal to document your exploits into nature.
Why start journaling?
There are a number of benefits to journaling. A few reasons are outlined below:
1. Learning more about the world around you
Even if you don’t document every natural phenomenon like a scientist, you will learn more about the environments you journal about simply by being in them, writing about them, and spending time there. It will help you feel more connected and informed about your local flora and fauna.
2. Exercise and fresh air
Though you can complete a nature journal from your backyard, it is much more exciting to go out and explore. You’ll likely end up walking or hiking to remote, beautiful locations, which is a great excuse to get out of the house.
3. Practice painting or drawing from life
Drawing from references or life is a valuable skill, and nature provides an extra challenge by often being fleeting. Sketching from nature will improve your observation skills and your hand-eye coordination.
It will also allow you to closely study plants and animals in a way that isn’t possible through photographs alone.
4. Inspire future projects
Nature journals can contain finished work, but more often, you will only have time for a brief sketch or splash of color before you move on or the phenomena you’re recording disappears.
You can you what you do manage to record to inspire nature-themed paintings, crafts, and writings, making your journal an endless source of inspiration.
Flipping through your journal can remind you of all the beautiful things you witnessed in nature that day.
How to get started:
Getting started with nature journaling is only as complicated as you make it. It begins with a journal, and everything else is up to you.
It all starts with a journal. Most nature journalers recommend dedicating one journal entirely to nature instead of using it with other purposes in mind too. It should be a portable journal that suits the mediums you intend to use in it.
Art supplies you will need:
Other supplies for nature journaling can be anything you desire or anything you like to use to create. However, keep portability in mind, as your art supplies need to be able to travel out into nature with you while you journal. It may be best to have a small pack of supplies dedicated to adventuring with you.
Here is a well-rounded list of supplies to get you started. However, feel free to use anything you can think of to make your journal your own:
- Erasable Pencils – It’s good to bring several pencils of varying hardness with you that you can use for quick sketching. You can even buy an erasable variety of colored pencils, which will help your sketches remain vibrant.
- Ballpoint or Artist’s Pen – Add bold outlines or dark shadows to your work with a ballpoint or artist’s pen. This pen will also be a great addition for when you decide to take notes or write down your thoughts while nature journaling.
- Brush Pen and small Watercolor Palette – If you want to add paint to your nature journal, a brush pen can be a game-changer. Brush pens are plastic brushes that keep the water stored in the handle. When paired with a watercolor palette, they can make painting on the go a mess-free experience.
- Small Backpack – This is not an art supply, but having a dedicated pack will help you stay organized while out in nature. Make sure it isn’t cumbersome, as you will have to take it wherever you decide to the journal.
Nature journaling prompts and ideas:
There are endless things to draw in nature, but that might make nature journaling seem a little overwhelming. Here is a list of ideas to get your nature journal started – no need to fear the blank page!
- Draw the same scene as the seasons change – observe the differences between winter, spring, summer, and fall.
- Scout some animal tracks and figure out what animal made them. Think about where that animal was going and why.
- Gather a few items that you find in nature for your journal. Take note of leaf rubbings or feathers that you collect in the wild. Press flowers to include in your journal.
- List out every animal and plant species that you can name. Include a small sketch if you’d like.
- Observe how a plant grows over time, and come back to observe it month after month to keep track of how it’s doing.