I have recently come across the lovely practice of nature journaling. I talk in my book, Australian Druidry about keeping a nature diary, and this is something I have been doing for many years, but nature journaling, I have discovered, is a bit different, and, well, I’m in love. My nature diaries up until now have been mainly just text – handwritten notes about the changes in the season that I notice as time goes by, perhaps a few lists showing changes through the year, and a record of temperatures, rain, available foods in the garden and foraging, whether I notice certain flowers blooming or animals making themselves known to me. But the difference with this and nature journaling, is that it combines these observations with art, creating beautiful layouts that are a mixture of paintings and drawings of landscapes, animals, and plants, and notes about what is seen, laid out beautifully so that each page is a pleasure to behold.
I am new to this and often when I’m new to something I find myself obsessed with finding out more. So I have enrolled in a class for the next eight weeks with Anna Barnes from Art Food Culture. She’s guiding a group of us to learn how to start our nature journals and it’s just so much fun. Our first class began with looking over some beautiful books like Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady, and How to be a Wildflower among many others. The layouts were gorgeous. Beautiful details, and creative layouts, some focusing on wild nature and others on the garden or vegie patch. Some with small pictures, some sprawling across the page. Some layers with photographs and pressed flowers, stamps, sheet music and poetry.
You know when sometimes you discover a bit of the world that is so totally the kind of thing you love, you just can’t believe you never found it before? Well that is nature journaling for me! I started my journal in our first class, but when I got home I just couldn’t stop. I am just feeling like I am brimming with ideas. The process is beautiful too – taking time to wander in the bush or the garden until something catches our eye and interest, then painting outside taking time to observe closely, perhaps jotting down some poetry or making a quick sketch of something to look up more closely at home. Then at home, finding an image of that bird or insect we saw flutter past, and adding finer details, reading books on nature and finding a delicious quote to add to the page… It’s a wonderful meditation just to do it all.
And so here, I share with you some of my first pages. I know there will be many more. First was some art exercises we did in class with a saffron milk cap mushroom, then a banksia tree and a lyrebird in the distance. When I got home I made a title page, and did a study on leaves. I also looked up the lyrebird in a bit more detail and added that in too.
The lovely thing about it is there are no rules. Like a journal, we can just let our thoughts and observations flow onto the page. It’s just that instead of only words, we are exploring with our art. Here are some ideas for what I think I will explore in future pages:
- Roads and pathways
- Grove spaces and clearings
- Frost, dew and morning light
- Nuts and seeds
- Buds and blossoms
- Grasses and wetlands
- Water, creeks and waterfalls
- Larger animals – kangaroos, emus, echidnas, wombats, cows, horses, sheep, goats
- Ogham trees
- Native trees
- Autumn leaves
- Fruits and harvest
- Gardening and cycles of activity
- Cooking and picnics
- Sunsets and sunrises
- Seasonal festivals and the wheel of the year
- Symbolism of animals and plants
- Stories of the seasons and how they relate to the land
There are so many things to explore. Have you considered creating a nature journal for yourself?