In the absence of being able to travel, or visit even other places in the county to take in some nature, I really want to squeeze what I can from my local patch. I enjoy journalling and lettering, so I have decided to adopt a bit of creativity with recording some of the wildlife I see on my walks.

I have an old Moleskine notebook where I have removed all the used pages and stuck in some different papers to create a new sketchbook. I have used some different media to create the journal page for our winter walk I highlighted in the previous post. I’ve uploaded a video to YouTube of me painting so that is linked here if you want to go and have a look.

The page itself is Kraft paper, and I have traced the kingfishers from one of my vintage bird books – which is where I took the little clip of text too. I have used gouache for the birds and alder tree, and a fountain pen for the handwriting. I’ve used coloured pencils for the backgrounds.

Why keep a nature notebook?

This activity is great for anyone wanting to either explore something creative away from a screen, or memorialise a particular time or event. There are so many ideas and as there is no need to share what you do, perfection is absolutely not necessary. Learning to appreciate what we have in our gardens, parks, streets and wider landscapes is incredibly important if we are going to make the necessary changes post-pandemic to restore and conserve our natural resources.

Any paper can be used, but it should preferably be fairly robust so that it takes water-based media, including glue should you want to stick things in. Remember that photos can be printed out to whatever size suits your purpose, and tracing or drawing by copying out of books means you don’t have to be accomplished artist or photographer to create your own personal journal of a special time or place with nature. It forces us to slow down, to observe, and to do the very human thing of documenting what we see by using our hands to make a visual representation of our experience. There are many studies showing how drawing and making are valuable to our sense of well-being as well as being out in nature; why not combine the two?

Here are some of my materials:

There are lots of ideas on Instagram and Pinterest for making a journal, but don’t get caught up in the quest for perfection which can be such a disadvantage with such inspirational artwork. I hope this post and my video shows how relaxing simply putting pen, pencil or brush to paper – whatever the result.

If you want some journalling materials with an ornithological theme, I have some sets in my Etsy shop.

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