Laws Guide to Nature Drawing and Journaling – Review

Laws Guide to Nature Drawing and Journaling Review @handbookofnaturestudy

Nature Book Project 2016

This review includes affiliate links.

This book is the last book I will be reviewing from my Nature Book Project 2016.

I finally received The Laws Guide to Nature Drawing and Journaling by John Muir Laws from our public library and it has taken a few weeks to get through an initial read through of this detailed and thorough book. My first reaction was one of happy surprise. I have seen many books on nature journaling but this one is definitely the most thorough and potentially helpful of any book I’ve ever found. <<<<< This book is going to help me in my journaling and drawing skills immensely.

I would have been happy with this book just being a helpful “how to” sort of book with suggestions and hints for getting started with drawing in my nature journal. It was much more than I expected! The sections at the beginning of the book were a delight as they unfolded many ideas and insightful help in the philosophy and methodology behind nature journaling. Laws reminds us that careful and thoughtful observations should be the backbone of our nature study.

“Copying the journaling approaches of others will not reduce your own creativity or make you a clone of another person. You will incorporate what you find useful into your own style and discard what does not work for you.” John Muir Laws (page 63)

The Laws Guide to Nature Drawing and Journaling is full of inspiring illustrations that are not just in the book to be pretty. He breaks his example pages down to show how we can use the ideas and patterns in our own journals.

 Laws Nature Drawing

There are many, many specific drawing tutorials for everyday subjects you may encounter in your nature travels like frogs, flowers, trees, birds, and so much more. This section of the book could be the basis for a complete course in nature journaling. If my children were still homeschooling, my brain would be organizing the material so we could work through it methodically.

“Before you pick up your journal again, reform your intentions; let go of the goal of making a pretty picture. You don’t have to be good at drawing to discover amazing things through the process of journaling. John Muir Laws (page 86)

One of my favorite sections in this book is the two page spread that is titled, “A Road Map from Wishes to Practice”. On these two pages, John Muir Laws puts into words so much of what I try to encourage my blog readers to remember about journaling – everyone can draw with practice!

Use This Book to Bump Your Journaling Skills to the Next Level

If you are new to drawing or feel you don’t have a gift for drawing, this book is going to be a perfect bridge for you to get from where you are to the next level. It has specific step by step tutorials that will give you the confidence to start a practice of journaling. The author gives us all encouragement that we can take our skills to the next level with lots of practice and we will only fail if we give up or don’t try!

I highly recommend The Laws Guide to Nature Drawing and Journaling. I am going to be purchasing it to help me in my nature goal for 2017 to create a nature journal page each week. It will be a very beloved and well used book that I will keep in my personal nature reference library. I may be purchasing a few as gifts to share with some young friends I know that love nature and drawing.

Additional Thoughts

  • If you read this book, don’t miss the first 17 pages. There are some fundamental ideas found there that I truly think will shape my thinking about science and nature study for a long time to come. He has gathered some important ideas on these pages and I would hate to think you are going to skip them to get to the drawing tutorials.
  • He suggests using the prompts I notice, I wonder, and It reminds me of to help us go a little deeper in our nature journaling.
  • There are project ideas that help you get started as you face a blank page. Check out pages 20 and 21.
  • Although this book is written by someone who lives on the west coast of the United States, the ideas and tutorials are applicable to anyone no matter where you live.
  • There is a comprehensive supplies list with specific suggestions that I found extremely helpful. I am a firm believer that having quality materials and a variety of media to choose from makes all the difference in your results.
  • Not only does he have a list of supplies, he has pages dedicated to showing you exactly how to use the pencils, pens, colored pencils, gouche, watercolors, and watercolor pencils in your nature journal, including some common mistakes beginners make using the materials. Helpful!
  • If you have never checked out the author’s website, you NEED to: John Muir Laws.


Look for this book at your public library or put it on your Amazon wishlist!

This book is the last book I will be reviewing from my Nature Book Project 2016.

Nature Book Project 2016 @handbookofnaturestudy

Note some of the links below are affiliate links.

January- Discover Nature Close to Home

February-A Place for Birds and A Place for Butterflies

March- A Crow Doesn’t Need A Shadow

April- The Practical Naturalist

May- Break month.

June-Botany in a Day

July- Rockhounding Nevada (postponed)

August- Break month.

September- The 10 Best of Everything National Parks

October- The Nature Handbook

November- Bringing Nature Home (postponed)

December- Laws Guide to Nature Drawing and Journaling




  1. Barb,

    Wow. This looks awesome. He has a lot of great stuff on his website, too. I’m hoping to carve out some time this afternoon to watch one of his videos.
    I like your idea of a nature journal page a week. I think having a goal like that will change how I look at doing a nature journal. I don’t think my goal will be quite as ambitious, but it might help me to set one.

    • Barb McCoy says:

      I decided that focusing on the nature journal will force me to make careful observations and be more intentional about my outdoor time. The journal will be the product of all the other things I do outside. At least that is my goal…we share see how it plays out.Thanks Sarah.

  2. What a beautiful review! I am going to get this one from our library and maybe do a few nature journal pages this year. Thank you for the inspiration.

    • Barb McCoy says:

      Thanks Annie Kate. I hope you can take a look at the book in person…it will definitely be one you will draw inspiration from.

  3. Barb,

    I heard an interview with John Muir Laws on “A Delectable Education” podcast. After looking at his website, I found that he has video tutorials as mentioned above. But he also has a free downloadable curriculum that is available from the California Native Plant Society website. I heard about it on the podcast and got the link from his website I think. It has many activities that can be used similarly to one of your OHCs and it also has some drawing guides for flowers and birds. Some tips on integrating language arts (like poetry) and nature study/nature journalling. I think that your subscribers may also enjoy this free curriculum.

    I was already thinking of picking up a copy of this book when I next return to the US, but your review here clinched it for me. I didn’t know if it would be a luxury on top of the two/three books on nature journalling I already have. But it sounds like his has a lot to offer.

    Thanks for taking the time to review and share!!

    • Barb McCoy says:

      Yes, you are so right. He has valuable materials on his website and his videos are in depth and so very helpful. You will love this new book and I’m sure it will help you take your journaling up a notch.

  4. I picked up a copy of this book after reading your review. I found it to be one of the most wonderful books I have read about nature study! I was so inspired that I even got my kids outside to do a nature study page on a SUNDAY. I highly recommend the book and will be purchasing my own copy. Thanks for putting me onto the book!

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