There is still a sense of wonder to be discovered in our own gardens if we give ourselves the time to properly engage
about the plants in your garden, or taking a sketchbook out on a walk with you? Is it about creating a book of drawings that you want to share with others, or is it about observing and learning on a more personal level? Be realistic about what you’ll be able to do – certainly to start with.
Lara Call Gastinger creates perpetual journals. The first thing she does with a blank journal is to mark each page spread with a calendar week – and then over subsequent years she will return to that page and add an additional drawing. The complexity of the page builds up year on year and means you don’t need to feel too overwhelmed by filling the page each time you do a drawing. It allows for observational snippets, as well as helping to pinpoint seasonal changes to a particular moment – and even track how these might be shifting over the years as a result of environmental changes.
Your choice of journal should be first and foremost practical rather than aesthetic. Consider ease of use at home or out in the field, type of paper for your chosen media – inks, pencil, watercolour, etc – whether you want to include additional items, such as pressings in envelopes or pouches, and whether you want to build up a series of matching journals. Ideally a journal should be large enough to allow you room to explore with your drawings and add in other connections and notations.
Don’t be tempted to buy too much kit; you’ll be less inclined to get it all out and use it than if you have a few essential items that can be easily accessed or carried around.
Once you’ve started your own journals, go and look at other examples – an Instagram search will bring up a host of other journallers who are sharing their pages. Not only can these help inspire you, but it’s also a way of picking up techniques and processes that you can add in to your own way of recording what you are seeing.
And don’t panic; this isn’t primarily about being able to draw well. It’s about observing, understanding and engaging just a little bit more with the world around us. Even with all the field guides that are published and astonishing wildlife photography and TV programmes available, there is still a sense of wonder to be discovered in our own gardens and parks if we give ourselves the time to properly engage. It’s the process of journalling even more than the end result.
Books Nature Observer: A Guided Journal by Maggie A Enterrios ( Timber Press, 2017). Keeping a Nature Journal by Clare Walker Leslie (Storey Publishing, 2003). Wonderland: A Year of Britain’s Wildlife Day by Day by Brett Westwood and Stephen Moss (John Murray, 2018). The Almanac: A Seasonal Guide to 2019 by Lia Leendertz (Mitchell Beazley, 2018)
Online johnmuirlaws.com – lots of advice and further resources including YouTube videos and the opportunity to join the Nature Journal Club. Follow #lgperpetualjournal on Instagram for more from Lara Call Gastinger and others.