Keeping a Nature Journal A Book Review

Keeping a Nature Journal by Claire Walker Leslie and Charles E Roth is both inspiring and invigorating. As an artist of many years, this book gives me the courage to go out and keep doing what I do, only now with a better feel for Keeping a Nature Journal.

There are 4 Parts and 11 Chapters.

Part 1: Getting Started

  1. Discovering Nature Journaling
  2. Beginning Your Journal
  3. A Sampling of Journaling Styles

Part 2: Journaling Through the Seasons

  1. The Ongoing Journal
  2. The Autumn Journal
  3. The Winter Journal
  4. The Spring Journal
  5. The Summer Journal

Part 3: A Seasonal Celebration – A New Selection of Pages from Clare’s Journals

Part 4: Learning and Teaching Nature Journaling

  1. Getting Started with Drawing
  2. Teaching Journaling to Groups of All Ages
  3. Journaling with School Groups

I will be completely honest, I had begun to read this book many a year ago and even flipped through the pages and used some of the pages when I would teach Nature Journaling. That being said, to read it from front cover to back cover, opened my eyes to a myriad of thoughts and ideas I had never thought before. Their idea of Nature Journaling is not simply confined to “Nature” in the most common sense, but nature is tied to each of us, and each of us is tied to nature. Everything is part of nature.

On page 7, they distinguish a diary from a journal; “It is important to note here that whereas a diary or personal journal records your feelings toward yourself or others, a nature journal primarily records your responses to and reflections about the world of nature around you.”

Charles E. Roth states in the Preface, “I wish I had kept a journal that recorded my childhood discoveries of nature, and people’s reactions to them.” It was not until college that he began to take detailed field notes of his natural history observation. I, too, often recall my many discoveries growing up, not just nature, but in life in general. I have often sketched something here or there along the way, but if they are not in a “book” they have been lost among the many moves I have made over the years.

Last year, I began to sketch a few more things here and a few more things there. I take my sketchbook, aka, Nature Journal, with me, everywhere I go. There are many times, like at the airport or in the hotel, I wish now I had sketched or painted instead of using the camera. The camera just doesn’t really begin to capture what my eyes truly see.

This book does not start off with a lot of you should do this and you should do that, or you need this item and you need that item, it begins with an introduction to recording nature. “Nature journaling is the regular recording of observations, perceptions, and feelings about the natural world around you.  The recording can be done in a wide variety of ways, depending on the individual journalist’s interest, background, and training.” (p. 5). It goes on to talk about the medium and the format and their point is, you can record anything and everything in any form using any medium, drawing, writing lists of what you see, the weather, a poem, notes to look something up later. YOUR nature journal is ALL yours. There is no right and there is no wrong way to use it. The key is TO USE IT!

The benefits of nature journaling are far and wide and to list them all, would be tedious and cumbersome. The two most important benefits I take from nature journaling are the time to slow down and really see what I am seeing – is that a Northern Cardinal or is that a Tangier? Is that a Grackle or is that another type of black bird? Are those barn swallows or house swallows? Are my cherry trees really beginning to bloom already? By recording these observations in written and in sketch form, I now have a recording of who is visiting my property and when. I can then look back year after year to see if the populations are increasing or have I lost some of my bird friends? I can tell you after a few years if the cherry trees beginning to bud in February was a fluke or if it is a regular occurrence.

The key information to record in your nature journal when observing: (written or drawn)

  • Your name àunless it is written inside the cover of your journal
  • The date
  • The place
  • The time (does not have to be the exact time)
  • Weather
  • First impressions
  • Wind direction
  • Cloud patters and cloud cover

Begin Drawing:

  • Ground observations
  • Eye-level observations
  • Overhead observations
  • Whole-landscape observations

The wealth of information covered in this book is too much to include in this one blog. I may come back at a later time and cover some of the other parts of the book that I found very useful and helped me find my way. But at this time, I would recommend this book to ANY beginner or novice nature journaler. It will give you the confidence you need to go out there and put the pencil to paper, so to speak.

Journaling Through The Seasons

If you have read this far. Thank you. I do not receive any financial income from any person for discussing their work. I do not have any affiliations with any book store or any company. In all honesty, if you can go out and buy the book used or have your local Independent Book Seller bring it in for you, that is a much more feasible way to purchase the book.

So, for now, have a great day and I look forward to seeing ya’ll real soon. Feel free to leave a comment or a link to your posts.

About Jennifer A Adams

Mother. Artist. Nature Lover. Photographer. Writer. Painter. Farmer. Canner. Conservationist. Naturalist. Emergency Manager. Hiker. Camper. Lover not a fighter. On my way to make a difference in the world. Being the change I want to see in the world!
This entry was posted in Art, Nature Journal, Thoughts, Uncategorized, Writing and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Keeping a Nature Journal A Book Review

  1. Ann says:

    This was a very inspiring article. I’m wanting to go out and journal something. By the way, I noticed some of the summer birds are already migrating back here. I need to see what kind they are.

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