Pocket Guide: Sketching and Field Journal Basics

Bethann Garramon Merkle sketching in Grand Teton National Park

Now more than ever, you may want a sense of calm and rootedness.

Of small, simple moments of joy.

Of deep connection to place.

And, a parallel quietness of mind.

Go for it! Suspend time. Pause the do list in your head. Instead, focus closely on details in the natural world around you.

Sketching is a powerful way to direct your attention and create this sense of focus. If you’re not quite sure how to get started, this little pocket guide is for you!

This advance copy of the Pocket Guide to Sketching and Field Journal Basics gets you started with the fun, whacky techniques that professional artists use to warm up, move past the blank page, and channel observation into discovery and delight.

With your copy of the pocket guide as your companion, you can pursue your curiosity while calming your mind. If you sketch your observations regularly, you will begin to build a sense of place, whether you observe snails in a window flower box, weeds growing through cracks in the sidewalk, or migratory birds in a wilderness area.

While the materials in this pocket guide focus on science and nature, the sketching exercises and basic principles are equally useful if you want to sketch your garden, coffee cup, or next trip (when we can travel again!).

pay_what_you_canPay what you can!

With whatever amount* you are able to contribute, you can take yourself on a journey that will enhance your sense of place and help you find small delights close to home.

*Just adjust the quantity in the PayPal link to adjust the amount you contribute! 🙂

 

 

 

Now, keep reading to learn a bit more about how science and art have teamed up throughout the ages!


The history of art and science are closely intertwined.

Prior to the advent of cameras, scientific inquiry required drawing. Think of the drawings and paintings of Leonardo da VinciMaria Sybilla MerianJohn James Audubon, or the maps drawn by Samuel Champlain and the Lewis & Clark expedition.

Additionally, most people with an interest in the natural world were trained to make basic drawings of what they observed.  Their illustrated journals and drawings persist as tangible records of discoveries, adventures and personal experiences.

This ability has lapsed as a public tradition, but it persists in some ways – as a profession (scientific illustration) and as an avocation for many naturalists and enthusiasts of the natural world.  Certainly, professionals like Cathy JohnsonVal WebbClare Walker Leslie, and David Allen Sibley make it look easy.

And yet, drawing is not a domain exclusive to the pros.  Without much training, it is still possible to render what you see in a way that informs and delights you.

Even in the digital age, hand-rendered reflections of the natural world still possess the power to transfix us, and make us long for the ability to do something like it.

Furthermore, researchers such as Felice Frankel and her colleagues have demonstrated that drawing (even without training) can help clarify what you know, assist instructors in assessing student knowledge, and refine public communication efforts by identifying key concepts.

Want to know more?

If you’d like to know more about how drawing can contribute to science learning, teaching, and research, see this series of blog posts about “Artful Science.” You can also tap into a series of sketching tips. If you’d like specific training, check out the details about how you can tap the potential of drawing to enhance science education, research, and communication with collaborators.

Don’t forget to download your copy of the intro to sketching guide!


Give nature sketching a try with the Pocket Guide to Sketching & Field Journal Basics!

Maribou storks_3_clean-ishThis pocket guide provides an introduction to field sketching/journaling and three foundational drawing techniques ideal for nature-based sketching.

Don’t worry if you are not trying to make “fine art.”  Without much training, it is still possible to render what you see in a way that informs and pleases you.

This pocket guide gets you started with the fun, whacky techniques that professional artists use to warm up, move past the blank page, and channel observation into discovery and delight.

Once you try these sketching exercises, be sure to share how it goes!  I’d love to help with your questions and get your feedback.

And of course, share your sketches while you #StayAtHome! 🙂

pay_what_you_canPay what you can!

If you’re not able to contribute much, don’t worry! Taking time to notice how life is growing and adapting around you is more important than ever. Just enjoy the guide.

And, if you are able, consider a pay it forward contribution and pay a bit more to cover someone who isn’t able.

Just adjust the quantity in the PayPal link to adjust the amount you contribute! 🙂

Either way – enjoy and happy sketching!

2 thoughts on “Pocket Guide: Sketching and Field Journal Basics

  1. I used your facilitated nature drawing exercises with two groups I taught this weekend at Harvard Forest, and even though I’m not an artist, they thought I was! Thanks for the resources. C. Hart, Harvard Forest Outreach & Development Manager for Education & Research Programs

  2. Appreciating the persistence you put into your site and detailed information you provide.

    It’s good to come across a blog every once in a while that
    isn’t the same old rehashed material. Excellent read!
    I’ve saved your site and I’m including your RSS feeds
    to my Google account.

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