3 Tips for Nature Journaling When You Think You Can’t Sketch

First Day of Spring 2012 nature journal

My personal nature journal is a source of great joy and it gives me such pleasure to create pages that record my observations and memories of a particular day, excursion, or season. This post is directed to moms who think that they can’t start a nature journal because of a lack of drawing skills. I do very little actual sketching in my nature journal but have learned to use a variety of techniques to keep each page fresh and in touch with my personal style.

So what should you remember if you think you can’t sketch and you want to start a nature journal?

1. Keep it simple and don’t be afraid to get started.
A blank page can intimidate even the most seasoned journal-keeper. Work through your fear of failure by starting small and keeping it simple. Be a good role model. If you have children and you are encouraging them to keep a nature journal, you can empathize with their feelings of inadequacy. Be brave and your children will look to your example and be more confident about their own journals.

2. Use a variety of ideas…find something that works for you.
You are not required to sketch. Try something else. Keep a list, include an photo, copy a poem or some facts…just get started. Don’t wait. You may someday feel like sketching or watercoloring in your journal but it is not a requirement. There are no rules for nature journals. Use color and a few well placed decorations to make your journal more personalized if you feel inclined.

3. A journal can be a private place of joy.
Keep in mind the purpose of a nature journal and remind yourself that it is a personal keepsake and record of your thoughts and experiences. You do not need to share it with anyone…in real life or on the internet. If it makes you happy that is all that counts.

Taking it one page at a time, you will build a treasured spot for your nature study and outdoor memories.

Please Note: The grid printable shown in the nature journal at the top of this entry is from the Handbook of Nature Study Newsletter – March 2012 edition.

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  1. I looked at some of your pages – thanks for sharing them! It helps to know the different ways someone journals.

    Next year, I hope to start going to a local nature center twice a month where they do nature journaling with lessons! I’ve even thought of going on my own, though mostly it’s homeschoolers. Maybe I’ll just go next time! :-)

  2. This is a wonderful post! I think so many are afraid to start a journal, and this just might be the advise they did!

  3. I love your varied and beautiful ways of journaling! Such a helpful post. We were just using pastels with our spring splendor notebook pages…sketching purple irises.

  4. This was a terrific post for me, because I just started a Nature Journal and feel like a total dork when it comes to my drawing ability. However, I invested in some colored pencils and have done some crude sketching.

    Here’s the miracle: while I won’t win any art prizes, it’s enough to remind me of what I was looking at when I drew it. Also, I am much more observant every time I go outside, and that makes my connection with Nature stronger and more meaningful.

    I still might haul myself down to a local gallery for drawing lessons someday, but I don’t plan to wait for that to enjoy my Nature Journal.

  5. Photography helped my “non-drawing” overcome this problem. We’ve never made any real progress with a nature journal but now now she is happy to take a photo and then write.

  6. Yes…to everyone!

    Get started, don’t wait, and don’t worry….I hope I can keep encouraging all my readers to just do the best you can and find something that works for you.

    Enjoy it!

  7. Great post! Just the encouragement us non artistic types need. :)

  8. I have been finding your blog so inspiring, Barb. Since I am trying to foster a love for nature study in my older kids, (including two teens) since I didn’t do a very good job when they were younger, I was wondering if there were any good, living books for older children that could inspire them to want to do nature study?

    One of my teens in particular tends to be more receptive to new ideas if there is a story to spark an interest.

    Since she is 16, do you have any suggestions?

  9. Michelle,

    Why don’t you email me with your daughter’s interests and I can probably come up with a few ideas for you.

    I know for one of my sons that allowing photography as part of his nature study has really made the difference in his interest.

    Also, I can highly recommend adding in some biographies of people who had some sort of passion in an area your daughter is interested in or you are studying.

    So drop me an email…[email protected]

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