Create a Nature Journal | Jayne Selwa | Skillshare

Create a Nature Journal

Jayne Selwa, Inspired by Nature

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13 Lessons (31m)
    • 1. Introduction

    • 2. Materials Needed

    • 3. How to Set Up Your Journal Pages

    • 4. The Basics: Time, Date, Weather

    • 5. Bringing Mindfulness into the Process

    • 6. Sense: Sight

    • 7. Sense: Hearing

    • 8. Sense: Smell

    • 9. Sense: Touch and Taste

    • 10. Hearing the Stories of the Place

    • 11. Feelings of Awe and Connection

    • 12. Make a Plan for Continuation

    • 13. Final Thoughts


About This Class

It's really important for me to feel connected with nature. This in turn helps me connect more deeply with myself.

I’ve kept a nature journal on and off for many years, and have used different formats and layouts. Sometimes the format is more scientific, sometimes it’s more artistic.

This class will guide you through the process of beginning a nature journal, even if you have never done anything like this before.

Class topics will focus on: choosing a journal, deciding on writing/sketching tools, mindfulness, connecting with your surroundings and senses, and connecting with feelings of awe and connection.

By the end of the class you will have a Nature Journal of your own, and you will have established a regular practice of journaling in nature.

You'll have two files you can download to help you:

A help sheet containing the sections to include in each Nature Journal entry

A planning sheet to help you plan continued journaling sessions

Project: You will create an awesome Nature Journal page full of creativity, insightful observations, heartfelt connections, and sketches; and you will have a habit plan to keep up with your new Nature Journaling practice.

This class is for anyone who wants to learn the skill of Nature Journaling. No prior experience is required.


1. Introduction: hi and welcome to my class. Create a nature journal In this class, you will learn how to create a nature journal of your own. Even if you have never kept any kind of journal before, I will guide you step by step through the process of choosing what to use for your journal . What writing and drawing tools to use and the layout of your pages. You learn what including to book entry, and you will learn how to deeply connect with your surroundings. To make your journal entries more rich and meaningful, you will learn how to personalize your journaling style to fit your individual personality and interests. As we go through each stage, I encourage you to share your progress. Final Class Project will be a Nature Journal entry in which you will include all the elements you'll be learning in class. Let's get started 2. Materials Needed: you don't need a whole lot of fancy materials to get started. With nature journaling, you can begin with things you already have. First thing you will need is the journal itself. You have options here. You can use a lined notebook or a blank book or a sketchbook. If you tend to be more verbal, you might want to use a line to notebook. If you tend to be more visual than a sketchbook will work nicely. Both notebooks and sketchbooks come the three basic sizes small about four by six, which is great because it's portable. You can keep it in your pocket or purse for quick access, no matter where you are. Medium about five by eight, which is still pretty portable and has a bit more room to fit your notes and sketches. And then large, about 8.5 by 11 which has plenty of room but isn't as portable as the other sizes. I'll be using my 8.5 by 11 sketchbook in all of the demos. Next, you need something to write with. Sometimes I just use a regular ballpoint pen, and sometimes I use pigment markers. Both of these air. Waterproof pigment markers have the advantage of coming in different thicknesses. I suggest trying both in deciding which you like better. In the demos. I'll be using pigment markers such as these. I don't suggest using pencils, pencils, air Great, because you can erase them. But they also tend to smudge. You can add color by using some colored pencils, markers or even some water color. In these demos, I'll be using an inexpensive portable water color set and a quash water brush pen. 3. How to Set Up Your Journal Pages: I include certain sections in each of my nature journal entries. The following videos. I'll be going over each one of these in more detail. Here's a quick overview of what you include in your journal entry. You can download the page, set up pdf, and keep it as a handy reference. We include the date, time and location. You can make multiple entries each day you can make use one page per day. Use multiple pages for each day, and when you write your location, try to be a specific as you can. When you make note of the weather. Be explicit because you can. What are you experiencing in the moment? I try to refine your observations. If it's raining, What kind of rain is it? Is it just Misty is a drenching. Include as many details as you can when you're describing the weather. Also, if you happen to know the temperature, you conclude that here, too, the moon phase in the tide phase. At first, you might not know what the moon phases. You might actually have to look it up. There's a lot of moon phase calculators online there, several APS that have that also many calendars include that, um, again, the tide phase. If you live near a title body of water, you know that you can look up the tide tables online again. They have Alps for that, Um, I don't happen to live near title body of water, so I won't be including tied information. But I'll be including information about the moon phase and let me go into each of the senses. And we started with the sense of sight. And that's the one that people can often relate to The most cause that's very often are most prevalent site. So you want to describe what you see, but you don't want to try to describe everything. I usually pick three things, and I describe them in detail. But I don't worry about being scientific. As you'll see. I don't if I don't know the name of something, don't worry about it. Just describe what you see. The more important thing is that you're making a connection with nature in yourself. Not that you happen to know the names of things. Your sense of hearing, um, make general impressions of what you hear around you. Um, if you can make a note of what directions coming from. If you happen to know from where you're sitting, what direction north, south, east and west are. That's great. If you don't no worries. Just sometimes I'll just make a little arrow as to what direction this particular sound is coming from your sense of smell. Our sense of smell is so powerful, and it could bring on many memories and feelings and connections, so describe what you smell. It is much details you can sometimes hear. Um, similes and metaphors can be helpful. Um, just describe what you smell in as much detail as you can now touch and taste these Caesar a little tricky here. I want to give you a caution here. You don't want to touch everything in nature. Obviously, you don't want to go touching plants if you don't know what they are because they might be something like poison ivy on you definitely don't want taste anything unless you absolutely 100% certain you know what it is. But so this this section is going to depend on what your surroundings are, how confident you are in knowing what those things are around you. Now we come to what story is this place telling me? This is where we want to cut a key into the feelings that we have about the place that we're sitting and see what the place might be telling us. What story is the place telling us this very often will be not literal stories, but maybe sort of poetic inspiration or images or just impressions that you get. And finally, we have a section for feelings of connection and awe, and I think this is the core of the Nature Journal in practice. This is what we're aiming for when we go out into nature and we make a journal entry. Not so much about recording what plants and animals we see. It's about connecting, and sometimes it can be hard to explain. What you're feeling of connection is, But the more you try to explain, the more you try to articulate it, the stronger it's gonna be So inasmuch details. You can describe any feelings of connection and awe, and, of course, you condone. This is your nature journal, so include whatever doodles and sketches and any random notes that you want to include. Now, these settings generally I don't set up the page ahead of time with the settings because I never know how much room I'm gonna want. I might see a lot of things that I want to record on a particular day, and I want more room for the site, but I might not smell anything, are very little and so I might not want as much room for smell. So I generally add the sections as I go along and you can print out this pdf of these different sections so you can have it as a memory aid to know what sections that you might want to include. 4. The Basics: Time, Date, Weather: when you're setting up your page, it really doesn't matter where you put any of sections. Just let your creativity flow. This is your nature journal, and you're gonna set it up in a way that makes sense to you. So I'm gonna show you how I usually write in entry. But again, there's plenty of room for creativity. So start your judge Journal entry with the date and the time About 9 30 I am on the location. Be a specific as you can, but remember, you want to be specific in a way that makes sense to you. So I am sitting at the picnic table next to Cedar Creek, which is a local creek. Now there are a lot of creeks named Cedar Creek. I don't have to write exactly which Cedar Creek it is because I know which Cedar Creek I'm talking about. In fact, I know which picnic table I'm talking about, because this is where I sometimes often actually come to sit and just look at the water. So a picnic table by cedar okay, could. So I'm gonna next making note of the weather. It is sunny, no clouds. It's about 70 degrees thereabouts. Now this is just a guesstimate. It feels like 70 degrees. You could look this up, of course, but it just kind of feels like 70 degrees, about 70 degrees. And there is a gusty breeze. It's intermittent, and the direction I can't really tell the direction it's coming from. It sort of seems to be coming from everywhere. The gusts that just came seemed to be coming from directly in front of me, but, um, as I've been sitting here, it's been coming from all different directions. Um, and you may want to make a note of the moon phase right now. The moon is in the first quarter, which means it's waxing. It's growing, it's in the growing phase, and you can make another where it is in the sky right now. The moon has not yet risen. So obviously there isn't anywhere in the sky, not yet risen. And if you are near the ocean or another title body of water, you could make a note of the tide. I, um, inland at the moment, so I'm not gonna be including that section 5. Bringing Mindfulness into the Process: before we go any further and make start our entries about the different senses, we want to take a moment and bring ourselves into a state of mindfulness. Journaling of any kind is a powerful tool for reconnecting ourselves with ourselves. And when we bring nature into the process, we are also reconnecting ourselves with our priest place in nature and cultivating a greater awareness of our surroundings. So taking a moment to Interstate a mindfulness before making your journal entry can greatly enhance the process. Here's a quick and easy method, which I use when journalist take three slow breaths. Focus on the feeling of the breath filling your belly. Slowly exhale, letting your hex elation be longer than your inhalation. So let's do that now. Breathing in and breathing out, breathing in and breathing out, breathing in and breathing out. Now that you've brought yourself into a state of mindfulness, we're gonna focus on each of the census 6. Sense: Sight: we'll begin by focusing on the sense of sight. Spend a few moments just taking in your visual surroundings. Slightly unfocused your eyes. This will activate your wide angle and peripheral vision. Pick two or three things that you want to make note of. Then use your regular focused vision to observe them. Carefully ask yourself questions about what you're seeing to help deep in your observations . Looking around here, I see three things that I want to include in my journal entry today. First on the stump behind where I'm sitting there, some really cool fungus. So the questions I'm asking myself are what size they are, what shape they are color. I'm noticing that there's striping happening on these illnesses. I'm gonna make a note about those fungus is secondly, over here. I see some really cool red Berries. I don't know what these are. Can you see those? So I don't know what these are, actually, but I see that he's Berries there are sorry for the camera. Shake their There's five of them and they're in a sort of red, uh, Verjee capsule there. So I want to make a note of those red Berries. Finally, I just want to make an impression of the way that the sunlight is sparkling on the water here. So making my observations for the sense of sight first thing I'm gonna make a journal about is the fungus on the stuff. I'll describe it. It's tan. It's about 1 to 2 inches wide. Edges are ruffled, it's straight. And because I'm a visual person, I'm actually gonna acquittal. Sketch. No, don't you know your sketches don't have to be, like, perfectly artistic or accurate or anything like that? So if you feel like you can't draw, don't worry about it. Drum. Anyway, kind of looks like that, and I like to include a little color. Have this really cool travel water sculler set, very inexpensive travel watercolor set. And I use that with an AK wash water brush pen, which is fantastic for doing portable art because you fill the pen body with water and the brush tip as brush and you can paint watercolors without having to bring from as many supplies as you would normally. So they're sort of tan, and we're not creating a masterpiece here. We're just making your impressions. That kind of 10 the bark is. It's but grayish. There's stripes in their retired Drew. Okay, so there's my fungus and I want to Red Berries. And there were five Berries in a capsule in the capsule was red, spiky and opened, uh, belong scenes. Kind of like a little sketch of that, too. So we'll stem capsule. And then there was five red Berries. I had a little bit of color there, too. And what I noticed also is that the Berries were kind of one shade of red cap, so it was kind of more like a purplish eight red. So we'll see if I can capture that impression. My quick little sketch there. Nothing fancy. And finally, um, the other thing I noticed waas the sunlight sparkling, um, surfaces Creek is kind of hard to draw, but I just I kind of feel sparkles will make some little sparkles. Okay, So quick impressions of three things that caught your attention, Um, at your location today and I want to stress that what you don't want to do is try to include everything you see, and you don't have to worry about being accurate in your double in your descriptions. It's more of what you saw, what you connected with, what made an impression on you. So two or three things is kind of an ideal thing that include in the site section. 7. Sense: Hearing: next, we were going to connect with that sense of hearing as you did with census. I take a moment to just open your senses, toe all of the sounds around you without focusing on any particular sounds. So just kind of sit for a moment and listen. I'm not sure if that's coming through on the video, but the breeze is ruffling through the leaves on the trees. Since making this lovely sound, and in the background, I could hear some traffic noises. So my sense of hearing frieze clips money to mad, I think, in the trees. And I hear some traffic and it happens to be coming from sort of behind me over to the right, which I happen to know, um is the North. But you don't have to worry about that. You could just kind of make a little arrow to determine what direction a sound you hear is coming from. I also hear crickets kind of all around me, and I hear, um, a woodpecker calling. It's kind of coming from over there, and that's about it. You don't have to again write down everything you here, but just two or three things that make an impression on you. 8. Sense: Smell: Now we're going to move on to our sense of smell. Our sense of smell often triggers memories and feelings. Um, because it connects with different parts of our brain. So what one or two sensor smells stand out the most? Describe them as precisely as you can. Adjectives are your friends here. You want to avoid big generalities like it smells nice or a bad odor. Instead, you want to write what qualities says the aroma have is sharp, is it? Muskie is a sweetly floral spend a minute on, just kind of taken your surroundings and here sense of smell here. The main thing that stands out, it's sort of a sharp and, um, a grid sent, which, um, happened to nose coming from the oak leaves. It's kind of faint, but has that sort of sharp, uh, tan and smell on? That's kind of it. That's sort of it's not not a very smelly vocation, but that's the main thing. And it makes sense because I'm surrounded by oak trees and their leaves start to fall. And so that aroma is in the air 9. Sense: Touch and Taste: Okay. Next. Our last two of the five senses are touch and taste and word of caution. Here There are some things that nature that you do not want to touch. Things like poisons, plans or venomous animals come to mind. A good rule of thumb is that if you're not sure what something is, if you're not sure it's safe to touch, just don't touch it. Likewise, you really shouldn't taste anything at all in nature unless you're absolutely 100% certain that you know exactly what it is and that it's safe to eat. If you have even the slightest doubt, don't taste it. Still, it is possible to connect with the senses of touch and taste. Close your eyes and feel the breeze on your skin. See if you can sense the humidity in the air on your face. If you do touch something, how would you describe it? Be as specific as possible in your description. So while I'm sitting here, um, I can feel the breeze on my face so touch on my face. It's cooling. Um, I can feel the breeze ruffling my hair. I'm feeling thankful that I put my hair in a pony toe. I can sense that it's not very humid today, so the air feels dry. So that's what I'm going to include for my sense of touch those impressions that are given to me from the air. If there was a tree that I felt certain that was safe to touch nearby, I could touch the bark. Or you can always touch the ground. You can feel that the texture of the ground is gritty. Is it, um, Clay E. So there are things you can touch it again. Be careful with things like plants and animals. 10. Hearing the Stories of the Place: Now that we've connected with our five senses, we're attuned to the spot we're sitting in and prepared to send some deeper connections. In the next section of your journal entry, you're going to record impressions of the stories that the place is telling you. And I know this might sound a bit airy fairy, but just go with me on this, okay? So first all set up my hearing the stories. At this point, you want to bring yourself into a sense, a state of mindfulness against. So close your eyes and take three slow breaths to being yourself back into a place of mindfulness. So breathing in, breathing up everything is breathing out, breathing it, breathing up, pay attention and images or feelings that arise. Is there a story behind them? The trees, plants, the earth, the animals all have stories to tell. When we quiet our minds, we can be akin to hear their stories make some notes about the impressions have gained about stories. Your place is telling you doesn't have to be deeper, profound. Just record whatever you notice and I am having to images come to mind in the first is a peaceful early morning fishermen. And so the key thing is this feeling Peacefulness and I also feel a connection to, um, a night time. I kind of feel like this is an area that teenagers might come, um, toe hang out. So but the place is not trashed, so they're respectful teenagers, But I kind of have that feeling of people coming here at night to just kind of hang out. So those are the stories that I'm here hearing some days I'll really get into the story is kind of get a lot of different impressions today. These are just two basic impressions that I have. 11. Feelings of Awe and Connection: Finally, we come to the point that I feel is kind of the whole point of nature journaling. We're gonna take some time to connect with feelings of connection and awe. We feel a greater sense of connection in all when we consciously seek after it and articulate it. So you're still in a state of mindfulness from according to the stories. So what do you feel? Even the tiniest glimmer of connection has value. Describe it. This might be the part of your journal where your creativity and fly you could describe the feelings and words. Or you could write a poem or you could make a sketch. So if you need to, um, take three slow breaths to bring yourself back into a state of mindfulness. And as I sit here, I have two things. So two things that make me feel one is I feel connected to all the animals I can sense in the words. I feel like there are deer here, just beyond my vision. There's lots of different kind of birds. I know that I feel like those odder and fever that's spoon in the creek, and I just feel a profound sense of gratitude that I can be sitting here in a place that wildlife can also sit in. I also feel connected to the Native Americans who have lived in this area for many centuries, and I feel their presence, and I kind of feel like that. This is a fishing area for them and also a gathering area, because one thing I see on the banks of the stream our little freshwater clam shells. So I just love that feeling of connection across the ages, knowing that here in the 21st century, people come here to fish and back. Long before this area was known to Europeans, the Native Americans here also came to the Syria, the fish and gather food. And and it's it's a place that has been connected with mankind for many ages. It's a connection through the ages, and today I don't really have a sketch that epitomizes that. But this would be a great section of your journal to make a little sketch or maybe write a little poem or something that helps to articulate the connection that you feel 12. Make a Plan for Continuation: Now that you've completed your Nature journal page, I hope that your post in the project section if you got value out of this, let's think about a plan for continuing this practice First. Think about how often you want to make your Nature Journal entry daily once a week, twice a week. What would be a time interval that you could be consistent with? Personally, I find that 2 to 3 times a week works well for me. Just like with most things, we tend to be more consistent with new habits. When we make a plan, decide ahead of time what days you want to make Nature Journal entries. Don't worry about the weather. You can always observed through a window if you need to. I've made a planner sheet that can help you to make your plan. Go ahead and download the planner sheet and get started on your plan for continuation 13. Final Thoughts: Thank you so much for joining me. I hope you enjoyed the class. Please post your completed nature journal entry in the project section. I'd love to see them. I hope that you'll continue with the process of nature journaling to strengthen your connection with yourself in nature and to feel more in touch with your own connection with the natural world. I hope to see you in another class.