On Being Perfect…

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An early watercolour sketch. My perspective for the chimneys was way out, and I could not at all represent the sky. So frustrating!

I get a lot of feedback from readers via emails, comments on the blog, and via the Facebook group about how inspired they are to keep nature journals, not only for their children, but also for themselves. This makes me so very happy!

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Another early sketch. Coloured pencils are easier than that awful watercolour!

I really do believe that keeping a nature journal enriches our lives in so many different ways. For me personally keeping a nature journal brings me so much closer to the natural world around me; I notice things in both a macro and micro sense. I am much more aware of the seasonal changes, of changes in the sky, both day and night.  I see the tiny details of whatever I happen to be sketching, details that would have ordinarily passed me by. Details that I do not see when I photograph a subject, or look at it just for pleasure. Nature study brings me closer to my Creator, and for that, I am forever thankful.

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But coloured pencils take f-o-r-e-v-e-r !

I also, unfortunately, sometimes receive messages or comments from people who feel that they cannot keep a nature journal because they “cannot draw”, or their drawings are “not good enough”

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Working more quickly with pencils

This makes me feel so sad, and so frustrated! There seems to be a myth that people can either draw or they cannot. This is so wrong! Would we tell a child who was struggling to read, “well, some people are born readers, others aren’t” No! We would teach them the rules, insist they practice by reading many, many books. It is the same with drawing.

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Teaching myself dry brush watercolour by copying the paintings of Edith Holden from The Country Diary Of An Edwardian Lady 

I am not saying that some people don’t have a natural talent, but they still have to work at it, spending many many hours, months, and years perfecting their work, learning new skills.

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Learning that dry brush can take quite a while too…

Nature study is so much more than creating beautiful images. It really is in the journey, not the end product (though of course, we all enjoy the satisfaction of producing a lovely end piece!) But as we learn to draw (and of course, the only way to learn to draw is to actually draw!) we can still be learning about our subject, even if our finished piece is not what we would like, or bears no resemblance to what we have been sketching!

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Finding my own style

As we sketch, we observe each and every little detail. This is in fact the key to sketching success; learning to see. Sketching what you actually see, not what you think you see.

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Loose & splashy!

I have also been told that my work is too ‘arty’ for a nature journal. There are not enough notes, or that my work isn’t precise enough. I think that we must create our journals for ourselves. Comparison really is the thief of joy. I do not have the skill to paint photo realistic work. Nor do I have the time! But I have come to a place of peace, knowing that the journal pages I create each bring me closer to a subject I want to learn about and a Creator whom I love.

Some pages I am pleased with, such as this page of trees:

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Experimenting with light & shade

Others not so much! But I learn a lot from these ‘mistakes’.

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Oh dear!

We must keep trying. We must be prepared to invest time and be prepared to fail.

Recent landscapes:

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The good..
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the bad…
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and the ugly!

Let’s stop comparing our work, encourage one another in our endeavours, and keep learning.

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Always learning

 “It is only what we have truly seen that we can truly reproduce; hence, observation is enormously trained by art-teaching.”

Charlotte Mason

12 thoughts on “On Being Perfect…

  1. I completely agree with everything you said, and I love this: I think that we must create our journals for ourselves. Yes! I have been told that I’m not a “nature journalist” because my journals aren’t “scientific.” I study nature. I journal about it. In my opinion, that makes me a nature journalist. But I don’t do it for the title; I do it because it brings me great joy. I connect with God through the world that He made and find great beauty and pleasure in it. Thank you for sharing a lovely post!

    1. Thank you Tonya.

      Your journals are always so inspiring to me & I am surprised to hear that you have been told you are not a nature journaler, but I suppose this is exactly why we must focus on our journals for ourselves. It matters not what I or anyone else think of your journal, as long as it is serving its purpose for you x

  2. Thank you for this inspiring read…….I love the idea of nature journaling but have been hesitant because of skill…..but with your comment to not compare I realise we all start somewhere just go with the flow……and looking through your good….bad….ugly pictures it gives me peace to just start I might be surprised with the outcome……especially since your bad is pretty good in my eyes……beauty is in the eye of the beholder…..

    1. Thank you for taking time to comment, Tracey. I do hope the post encourages you to begin journaling.
      It is frustrating when we begin and our sketches do not look how we want them too, but keeping sketching is what changes things 🙂
      Keep me posted!

  3. I love this. Thank you for your encouragement to press on; to keep practicing. I am so grateful for you for writing and posting your videos and photos, and continuing to encourage your readers in this. I love taking the time to sketch and paint, too, because it forces me to slow way down and to pay attention; to be quiet and still. It is truly restful and it has become one of my favorite things to do.
    ~Stacy

  4. These are amazing and so incredibly encouraging. My little ones are 6, 5, 3, and 1 and I just purchased your book to use with them next year. I love watercolor but need practice, and seeing your progress is so inspiring! Thank you for sharing it with us!

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