Event Block 4

Nature Journaling Course

This event was supported in part by the Cummington Cultural Council, the Plainfield Cultural Council, and the Ashfield Cultural Council, which are supported by the Mass Cultural Council, a state agency. 

What is the purpose of a nature journal? Spending time absorbed in the sights, sounds, and smells of the outside world can spark joy and reset a tired soul. These positive experiences can linger longer with us if we take the time to document them through writing and art in a nature journal. Experts praise nature journaling as a way to build a lasting creative connection with the environment.

Artist and educator John Muir Laws states it simply, “Nature journaling will enrich your experiences and develop observation, curiosity, gratitude, reverence, memory, and the skills of a naturalist.” As an artist and naturalist, John Muir Laws has devoted his career to helping people understand the process of nature journaling. He advises to “draw for two reasons, to see and to remember.

The point of nature journaling is to look intently and to see the world with purpose. Drawing, in particular, helps us slow down and see details we often miss. And just like with any practiced skill, our drawings will improve over time. Artistic talent and experience is not required for this program – only a love of nature and observational skills.

This course will consist of five 2 hour classes meeting at the Guyette Farm, 10 to 12 on Tuesdays – May 16, 23, 30 and June 6 and 13, 2023.    In case of rain we will meet under the pavilion at the Shaw Memorial Library. To be manageable the class will be limited to 12 people.

These classes will be led by Lori Austin, a retired science and math teacher, with over 20 years experience teaching all aspects of STEAM – science, technology, engineering, art and math. She has been nature journaling for over 15 years in places as far away as the jungles of Mexico to the deserts of Arizona, but prefers journaling right in her own neighborhood of Plainfield, Massachusetts. She has studied botanical painting under the tutelage of renowned Ashfield artist, Beverly Duncan.

Session 1. Getting Started

  • Introduction to Lori and how she got into nature journaling.
  • Introduction to nature journaling – examples of different types of nature journals and nature guides. These materials will be supplied by Lori.
  • Nature Journaling Basics 
    • How to use materials
    • What to include on each journal page
    • Begin journaling with variety of leaves 

Each of the following sessions will begin with a 15 minute mini-lesson on the topic, complete with handouts, followed by 90 minutes of journaling, then 15 minutes of sharing and Q & A.

Session  2 . Journaling Wildflowers and Adding Text to your Journal

Session 3. Journaling a Nature Walk and Including Data in Your Journal

Session 4. Journaling in the Garden: Early Planting in the Raspberry Hill Garden

Session 5. Nature Journaling: Local Critters and How to Capture Them in a Journal