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!
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.
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”
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.
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.
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!
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.
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:
Others not so much! But I learn a lot from these ‘mistakes’.
We must keep trying. We must be prepared to invest time and be prepared to fail.
Let’s stop comparing our work, encourage one another in our endeavours, and keep learning.
“It is only what we have truly seen that we can truly reproduce; hence, observation is enormously trained by art-teaching.”