Nature Journaling: Combining Art and Writing

Bored with life? For a breath of freshness in your mundane existence, try your hand at nature journaling. A proper nature journal consists of a sketchpad and your written observations of the wonders of creation. Let the beautiful and amazing natural world inspire and lift you as you draw and write.

So what exactly is a nature journal? Simply put, it is a notebook in which you record your observations of the natural world. Educators use nature journals to teach science, art, and writing with children as young as kindergarten. The educational opportunity does not end when school does, however, because many adults down through the years have kept nature journals. A well known example is a book called “The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady” written in 1906 by Edith Holden. Another famous nature journaler was Thomas Jefferson.

A nature journal is a place to sketch or draw anything from a tiny bug or seed to a mountain view. For best results, use a pad designed for sketching. In some school supply stores, you may be able to find bound volumes that feature pages that are blank on top and lined on the bottom. These make it easy to both draw and write about the things you see.

Drawing may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it is a skill that can be learned. Spend some time at it and you may grow to love it. One thing that makes drawing special as a hobby is that you really can’t do it while you are thinking about something else. In order to draw a leaf, flower, or bug, you must pay very close attention to it. The idea is to observe the item closely, then transfer, line by line, what you see onto paper.

Colored pencils or water colors are nice to use for nature journals. Just a little color can really bring a penciled sketch to life. Here’s a tip for those who cringe at writing in bound volumes and possibly messing up some pages. Draw what you like on a removable page, and then keep your best work in page protectors in a special looseleaf. In this way, you not only don’t have to risk ruining a good page: you also don’t have to take all your completed drawings with you to the field.

Don’t stop at drawing, though. Note the parts of the item you drew, when appropriate. For instance, on a drawing of a flower, note the stamen and pistils. Describe the colors and the habitat where you found it. Then, if the muse strikes, pen a few lines of poetry about the flower, too.

You can also devote pages in your nature journal to the thoughts you are having on that particular day, especially as they relate to the experience of being out of doors, observing the natural world. Maybe you will feel inspired to outline a letter to the editor about the need for environmental legislation. Or, maybe you’ll feeling like drafting an article stating the benefits of active time out of doors for the health of children.

A rule that helps with all journals is to get into the habit of dating your entries. This will help you, in the future, to pinpoint the season in which you drew the sketch. You might even want to include the time of day. If you’ve ever journaled without dating entries, and then tried it with dates, you will understand just how nice it is to have things dated. Our memories just are not able to keep track.

About Shery: Shery is the creator of WriteSparks!™- a software that generates over 10 *million* Story Sparkers for Writers. Download WriteSparks!™ Lite for free at She is also the author of 2 books. Visit her official site at

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