Article and drawings by Elaine Sevy
As we celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day, I invite you to embrace this Nature Journaling Challenge and connect with nature on a more profound level.
Nature Journaling forces you to slow down and pay attention to what is around you. It will help you encounter beauty and wonder you would have otherwise missed.
Visit a nearby trail or explore your own backyard.
Allow yourself to relax and have fun, and worry less about drawing pretty pictures and more about creating a memory. Write notes about what you’re seeing, and let it pique your curiosity.
Do you have a favorite wild bird? Do you wonder if that bird is a resident or migrant? Look at it more closely and be amazed. Learn more about it at allaboutbirds.org (Cornell Lab of Ornithology) and audubon.org. Write in your journal about what you see and learn, and develop a deep personal relationship with your bird.
Find a new pretty wild plant or look closely at one of your favorites and count the petals. Do the petals have stripes similar to a landing pad leading pollinators to the nectar? What kind of bee did I just see on that flower?
Make sure to note the place, date, time, weather, sounds, temperature, and how the experience makes you feel.
Consider downloading the iNaturalist App on your cell phone to help you identify the plants and animals you find. Visit inaturalist.org to learn about and participate in the City Nature Challenge 2020: Washington DC Metro Area, April 24-27. There’s a link under announcements on the Capital Naturalist Facebook page.
Include your family and children, and make it a game to find as many insects, birds, frogs, flowers, mushrooms, etc., as possible. Quickly draw little images of each critter on the same Earth Day journal page.
Want inspiration and ideas about how to create a journal page? There’s support groups that can help. Join The NOVA Nature Journal Club at
https://www.facebook.com/groups/544583139673338/. Once there, you can find a link to John Muir Laws’ The Nature Journal Club, which has an international following, free workshops and tools of all kinds. Copy ideas from other people, which will give you a new lens to look through. Let someone else’s journal page ignite your own creativity.
A good basic Nature Journaling kit includes: 6×8” or 5×7”sketchbook (at least 100 lb. weight paper to handle light watercolor washes), a mechanical pencil or 2B drawing pencil, pencil sharpener, kneaded eraser, a waterproof ink pen such as a Pigma Micron 05, set of watercolor pencils (Derwent is a good brand), a Pentel Aquash Water Brush and a paper towel. Also bring your cell phone for photo references, and binoculars. A shoulder bag makes your tools easily accessible.
Try your best to do some nature journaling on Earth Day, but there’s no pressure. Enjoy working on your journal through the end of April for this challenge.
Please submit photos of your journal pages to me (Elaine Sevy), so I can share them with others on Springfield Art Guild’s (SAG’s) Facebook Page and The NOVA Nature Journal Club Facebook Group.