Journaling around the world
International Nature Journaling Week, June 1-7 is a celebration of how we experience and record nature in our journals.
This was another amazing year of INJW. I was part of the team supporting Bethan Burton. I loved the themes for each day, and had so much fun journlaling along with the world!
Visit the INJW website and Program page here, where you will see a list of each day’s theme, supporting video, replay of live session and nature journaling prompts. You can see other people’s pages, as well as share your own by using #naturejournalingweek in your social media posts.
I thought I’d reflect on this blog post about each day and what came up for me around each theme.
Day 1. Appreciation
Appreciation can be about anything you see or experience in nature. It could be about appreciation for your journaling practice and the time and attention you give to nature. It could be in appreciation for your NJ friends, or the community or your family or pets.
For this day, my page is about appreciating something we all have access to: the skies.
One of my favorites nature appreciations is the sky! You can always look up above you to soak in nature-
These were quick sketches while I was a passenger in a car. I did all the pen work and color while the scenery went by. The vertical color bar started with just the gradient in the blues of the sky, but as I moved down, added the grass, trees and the road!
I always say that my journal is a sensory scrapbook- and scratch paper for my nature encounters!! So I’m not fussy with crooked lines, imperfect paint application, inexact sketches.
This can be good practice to quiet inner critic- try journaling on the road!! 🚙 I do it often-
I’m prone to carsickness – but somehow it doesn’t happen if I’m nature journaling!! 😃
Day 2. Sharing
I sat out at the beach nature journaling Bird Rock, in Pebble Beach, California. I wasn’t really thinking of the topic of Sharing at first, but as I observed all the animals on the rock and how they were distributed in space, I realized….
***They are SHARING the rock!***
The cormorants (at the top), Pelicans (mid-level, far edges), and sealions (lower, near the waterline)-were occupying distinct areas of the rock. (also, otters in the ocean)
By separating out across the rock, like cake layers, they were all able to use this place together. (see the lower right page)
The Cormorants on the top were sitting on their nests. The pelicans were hanging out mostly preening (cleaning) their feathers, and the sealions were laying on top of each other at the lower areas near the water, snoozing or barking. There were sea otters floating in the seasweed in the ocean.
In the center, I drew a small landscape (ended up being bigger than I anticipated) with zoom-in bubbles showing detail to show which animal species were using parts of the rock.
(See image above) -I added a section of words describing the animal groups and where they were located.
On the right I did an elevation map view of the rock to show the layers, and color-coded them for ease of seeing across the page. Color was added at the very end-
And now I SHARE this page with you!
Do you notice animals sharing space? I’d love to hear!
Day 3. Creativity
Capture nature in different ways!
There are many ways you can document what you observe in nature. And it doesn’t have to be just perfectly drawn pictures with exacting detail.
I approach nature journaling with the goal of experiencing nature, being present and aware and taking it all in. Sometimes a gesture sketch or scribble with words and color swatches is enough!
And that is what I did when I visited a rose garden-I was completely overwhelmed by the beauty, variety and expansiveness of this place.
I couldn’t draw them all- so I decided to focus on colors for this day. I walked around and stopped at the roses that caught my attention and painted color swatches.
Pressed flowers and leaves
Print with leaves, paint with sticks
Creatively capture nature in different way- go through other posts to Harvest ideas for your journaling!!
What creative ways do you capture nature??
Day 4. Inspiration
Inspiration can mean many things. Nature or someone’s nature journal page or their perspective could be inspiring. A new plant or a novel structure within a common plant. May inspired to draw or journal something in a new way.
On a beach walk I was inspired by all the beach treasures! So I wandered and collected some pieces that inspired me- to make ephemeral (temporary) art.
I loved all the colors, shapes and textures, and the piece came together organically as I placed things down.
I’m so glad I had my nature journal bad with me on this walk!! But my waterbrush was 1/3 filled! Yikes- I was hoping I would have enough (NOTE to self- always keep it full or bring extra water!). Fortunately, I did. I took about 20 minutes to sketch in pen then add words and watercolor.
I enjoyed the surf and seagulls singing peaceful songs, and the oceany aroma wafting over on each fresh seabreeze. Even my dog Macy was meditatively watching the ocean while I journaled.
I never know what will inspire me to fill a nature journal page. I just keep my journal with me, and my senses open.
Day 5. Confidence
When we were deciding on this theme, we first thought of “Fearless”. But I wanted us to come up the same idea, but in the positive light, since fearless has the word ‘fear’ built into it. The new theme was Confidence.
This could mean:
How do you gain confidence in NJ?
Or What have you done confidently? Perhaps an inventory of what things you feel confident with and a list of things you’d like to develop confidence.
Personally, I have struggled with drawing cats to my liking. The one thing that has really made a difference is the practice of doing contour drawing or blind contour drawing of cats! So today I scrolled through cat photos and practice modified contour drawings.
I do these drawings as brain training— it trains my eye, brain and hand to cooperate in drawing a cat! My eye carefully looks, and my brain takes what I see and sends message to my hand to draw it. So, I’m not drawing what I THINK a cat should look like, but rather drawing what i actually observe. This also forces me to really see details I would not notice otherwise.
I’m not drawing a cat, but rather its the process of SEEING the cat and training my hand and eye to work together is the goal.
Here how I do Modified contours:
Look at a subject (photo works great for practice)
Draw what you see in one continuous line–so don’t lift the pen off the paper- keep in on the surface. Backtrack if you need to get back to a spot instead of lifting.
You can add color after if you want. This is how I do a lot of my nature journal drawings. My brain doesn’t expect a perfect cat, so my inner critic doesn’t criticize me.
Day 6. Care
My approach with the theme of Care is two fold. There are various ways we can care for nature as well as care for ourselves.
When we care for something we show attention or consideration, and perhaps concern for the well-being and safety of some being.
Because we are all part of nature in this web of life, our actions toward nature affect us. Developing a practice to show care of nature is beneficial to all. When nurturing an awareness of caring we can turn in toward ourselves to identify any needs we might have, whether it’s a nature break, or taking a nap, a drink of water or connection with others.
We can use the nature journal as we explore caring for Nature, as well as for ourselves.
Some ways we might show care:
Care for Nature:
- Close examination of growth patterns (timeline from bud to fruit, or decay) to gain understanding and creating connection.
- Transitions through the seasons (watch a tree from spring to winter, wet to dry seasons, breeding or migration)
- Write Poetry or a song inspired by nature
- Record the recovery process of a plant or landscape from flood, fire, etc
- Restoration- how we help to heal the land, replanting, mapping
Care for self
- How do you support your well-being?
- Does Nature time reduce anxiety, stress, grief, worry.
- What brings you joy? or Gratitude?
- How do you take time for replenishment?
This page is documenting a new thing I learned about caring for roses. I’ve never paid attention to how to care for rose bushes, but I learned the other day from a volunteer caring for roses at a local rose garden.
I can use my nature journal to help me remember and implant this process into my memory better. By drawing it out on paper I commit to memory in a way that just watching someone or reading about it cannot do. I did this all through college and it helped me immensely to learn topics topics from biology, biochem, oceanography and ornithology.
Day 7. Celebration
I think of Celebration as marking a moment or experience or event. Perhaps its accomplishing a difficult task, or trying a new way of drawing or recording. Perhaps its celebration the seasons of nature: solstice, equinox, Full moon/ new moon. Or a first of the season bird or flower?
It just so happens that today is Celebration day and our wedding anniversary!
This morning, I was surprised with a bouquet of lovely roses- a perfect subject for nature journaling.
I typically have a hard time drawing roses so I immediately went for contour drawings to capture the flowers- and was inspired to reflect on gratitude for the past 25 years with my partner.
What are you celebrating today? Is there an accomplishment or something you tried this week?
Carry these themes all year long throughout your nature exploration
I hope these themes stimulate you to be present with nature, taking a deeper look with an open heart– in nature and within you inner nature.
What do you appreciate? How do you SHARE or let your creativity out to play? What inspires you? How do you care for nature and your well-being? How do you celebrate nature?
With sincere gratitude
Thank you to all who participate during INJW and afterward. It was truly special to see so many of you all around the world sharing your view of nearby nature.
As part of the INJW team, it was an honor and pleasure to bring this celebration to you. The months before INJW, there was a lot of planning, gathering videos, lining up speakers, uploading content, posting on social media, posting your blog articles, hiring language translation, video editing, as well as costs for the Zoom upgrades and technology and website fees. While we volunteered our time, there were things than must be paid.
If you enjoyed or appreciated any part of INJW, and are able to, please consider a donation as a gift of reciprocity. You financial gift will ensure that we can keep this event continuing.