I’ve been keeping an illustrated nature journal for the last eight years, recording my experiences with the natural world, and the wildlife I encounter on my local patch. A huge part of keeping a nature journal is actually observation. Every journal entry is a learning journey, I’m constantly asking myself questions while I’m sketching and taking notes.
Looking closely with sustained attention means that I notice things I might not otherwise have seen. Whether I’m drawing a detailed study of lichen, or making quick field studies of my local foxes, I’m aware of the world around me so much more deeply, because I’m focusing intently on my subject, and getting to know it intimately. It’s an amazing way to connect with nature!
My mission is to get more people of all ages keeping a journal, and engaging more deeply with the natural world. People often tell me they would love to do it - but they think they can’t draw. I can happily tell them as I failed my GCSE Art O level; if I can do it anyone can!
Once we get the confidence to take the first steps, it’s just practice, patience and perseverance. If you love the natural world then nature journaling is a brilliant way to learn to draw and develop your creative skills. The more you draw the more you learn, and the more your drawing and your knowledge improves! It’s a win win situation! I do a lot of virtual ‘hand holding’ to help beginners. It’s always fantastic to see how pleased people are with the progress they make.
There aren't any rules! Some people may prefer to adopt a more scientific approach, others might use prose and poetry, or they might simply draw and record the names of the plants and animals the encounter, or use a mixture of different styles. It’s up to each person to create their journal, however they want to!
The important thing is - making that deeper connection with nature.
As well as boosting confidence journaling is a wonderful tool for helping our wellbeing. Getting outside and engaging with the natural world is so beneficial for both our physical and our mental health. There’s no need to travel far, nature is on the doorstep, or even through a window. A garden, allotment, or a local park are ideal places to begin journaling, or, you can visit one of Avon Wildlife Trust’s fabulous reserves! My own local journaling patch is home to two sites included in Avon Wildlife Trust’s My Wild City project. I’m thrilled to be involved in this fantastic initiative for Bristol’s wildlife, and its people!
Illustrated nature journalers are a pretty niche group, but we make up for that in having an amazing community across the globe. This week is very exciting for me as June 1-7 2020 was the first ever International Nature Journaling Week, for which I’m an organiser and contributor. You can find out all about this here: www.naturejournalingweek.com
There are tons of free resources, help and ideas for new journal keepers, and loads of inspiration from journalers all over the world, who are coming together to celebrate and record nature!
Even better, this global event dovetails beautifully with The Wildlife Trust’s very own annual nature challenge, the brilliant, 30 Days Wild: wildlifetrusts.org./30dayswild
It would be a great way to take action this week by beginning your very own illustrated nature journal!
You can learn more and find out more about Jules Woolford here: drawnintonature.com
Or connect with her on Instagram @drawnintonature