Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Wild Wednesday ~ Nature Journal Recharge

A few weeks ago, our family attended a presentation by the naturalist Bernd Heinrich. After the talk, I picked up from the book sale table a copy of Heinrich's recent book collaboration with ecologist Nathan Wheelwright, The Naturalist's Notebook, which is a how-to guide for tracking nature's changes (phenology), with a five-year calendar/journal in the back.

It's a lovely, lovely book, with gold-edged pages and (my favorite) a built-in ribbon bookmark, illustrated with Heinrich's sketches and watercolors throughout.

While most of the information wasn't new to me, having read a lot of books about nature journaling and having gone through the Maine Master Naturalist program, I always appreciate a refresher and I especially liked the ideas of experimentation and citizen science presented throughout the book—ways of taking your nature experience beyond appreciation and observation.

I had been in a bit of a nature-journaling rut and just looking at Heinrich's illustrations inspired me to get out and get sketching.

The months I spent learning to use watercolor paints last winter finally paid off—this is the first time I've tried using them in a journaling format (other than a few stray and unsuccessful experiments over the years) and coincidentally, the art store changed brands of my preferred field notebook, to one with heavier pages that take the paint beautifully.

Heinrich describes his art supplies thus: "I use only number 2 pencils with erasers or Micron 01 indelible ink pens. I have eight brushes (but use no more than three) and two watercolor sets. Each set …holds 24 colors…. Most likely I received both sets as gifts when I was a teen and there is still enough paint left in both to last another lifetime…."

This inspired me to rethink my art supplies and drawing tools. Not that I have an excess of either, but I really do love trying out different media and adding to my large colored pencil collection.

So I've been experimenting with watercolor and number 2 pencil, and watercolor and colored pencils.

And I've been working on making the most of my different watercolor sets (three travel sets of various smallness, and a palette of colors squeezed from tubes), learning the different characteristics of each and figuring out how to maximize color combinations, especially with the little travel sets.

Most importantly, I've been using my journal to help me appreciate the natural world during these waning days of autumn and learn a little more about the world around me.


  1. Nice. Makes me want to pick up my pencil and paper again. It is a good time to pay attention to the world around us.

    1. Yes! And it's such a relaxing escape from the crazy of our world.


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