Nature Journaling: Finding Nature at Home during Winter
Journaling Guide: Joy Bridy
Registration for this event is not required, but we encourage you to enter your contact information using the form below, so we can be in touch with future field journaling opportunities.
Many years ago, my friend Laurel Parker challenged me to spend time outside every day during the month of February. As soon as she suggested it, I realized how funny it was that I wasn’t already spending time outside every day, as weather is something to be celebrated or ignored (thanks, Tom Robbins), and I definitely considered myself an all-weather kind of person. Her challenge was accepted, and I began a deeper enjoyment of being outside, no matter the weather, no matter the day. This was the beginning of a committed habit of spending time outside each and every day, all year, for at least 30 minutes. Yes, I’ve experienced some blizzards and some extreme wind and rain, but in general, I’ve been gifted with a deeper connection to the world around me, and the added benefit of some interesting sketches and field notes, too.
Nowadays, getting outside is automatic, and my excursion is sometimes just the simple action of stepping out the front door and walking around my own place. With a pooch as a pal, we often visit one of our favorite public trails, usually culminating with our feet in water, or water on rock as a soundscape. And sometimes, I make a point to go to a place where I have never been. Always, though, the point is to be outside, opening my senses to the world around me.
People come into Nature Journaling from many angles. Whether you’re curious to learn about plants or birds, an avid hiker, someone who watches nature shows, or a musician/writer/artist of any kind, you’ve noticed that the natural world is a place of wonder and beauty, complex relationships, and fresh air. What tends to unite us is that we have an interest in expanding our relationship with the natural world. So, we grab a piece of paper and something to make marks with, and off we go.
This winter, as the nights are long and the days are short, you can slip your supplies in your pocket or bag, and head out with one added tool: a view finder. This is nothing fancy…my view finder is two L-shaped pieces of cardstock, given to me by someone (I wish I could remember who!), and they fit in my pencil case easy. The idea is that you can hold these two L-shaped pieces of paper up in the air to create a frame for mini-sketches.
Your sketches can be quick studies, outlines of the flow of grass or reeds, tree branches against the sky, or the way last-year’s wildflowers grows outwards from older stem and leaves Or you can migrate towards value studies of small landscapes, the flow of water, or clouds in the sky. The subject matter is endless.
As you are using your view finder, challenge yourself to work within different rectangles, both vertical and horizontal. Play with how you put them on the paper, whether you integrate any text, and if you use color or none at all.
Some days, you may only have focus for one or two, and other days, you may be inspired to fill pages!
As the circle of the year closes at Winter Solstice, opening on the other side for another full circle around the sun, many of us will find ourselves thinking about the past year, reviewing all of the seasons, and perhaps our Nature Journals will be part of that remembering. Take a look at what you’ve written and drawn and glued in, the places you’ve visited, and the thoughts that come up as you look back at your pages. As a Nature Journal Gathering group, we have made it one whole circle around the sun, and during one of the most challenging years of our times…a moment to be celebrated. Whether you have been following along for the whole year, or just stumbled upon this for the first time, take some time to look back over your entrties, enjoy where you’ve been, and clink your glass to mine as we celebrate where we’ve been, and where we’re going….
….as this is also the time of year to look forward, perhaps setting intentions for the coming year. One of the ways to integrate your Nature Journal into either your reviewing of the year past, or your envisioning of the year to come, is to make a Phenology Wheel, or a wheel of the year. For this project, draw a large circle on paper, and divide it into evenly-spaced pie shapes, each correlating to a specific amount of time. There are many options for the number of pie wedges:
- 12 wedges, one for each month
- 13 wedges, one for each moon
- 8 wedges, one for each of the solstice/equinox/midseasons
- 4 wedges, one for each season
- 52 wedges, one for each week (that’s a pretty big circle!)
- or whatever other system seems compelling to you.
Once you have your wheel and pie wedges drawn out, you can reference your Nature Journal for imagery, colors, forms, or your favorite sketches to integrate, come up with something on the spot, or if you’re focusing on the new year, leave it empty to fill in as the year progresses.
Whether you find yourself outside in our shared preserves this winter, or wrapped up warm in a chair by your favorite window, I hope that you continue to engage your curiosity about the world around you through drawing and writing, and I look forward to gathering with you to share our love for Nature Journaling into the new year.
May you be warm and generous, may you head outside even when you’re thinking maybe not, and may you find extraordinary moments where you least expect them.
Using a view finder :
Phenology Wheel guidance:
We would LOVE to have you share your Journaling!
There are various options for you to share your creativity:
- Facebook: If you use Facebook, please feel free to post on your Facebook page and use the hashtags #potomacaudubon #naturejournal. If you don’t use Facebook but would still like to share, please email your journaling enry to Krista Hawley at AdultPrograms@PotomacAudubon.org with ‘Nature Journaling’ in the subject line and Krista will pick one day a week where she will upload and post the pictures on the PVAS and PVMN Facebook pages (you can email them to Krista by either scanning and emailing, or just take a picture and email that to her).
- Instagram: If you use Instagram, please feel free to post on your personal Instagram page and use the hashtags: #potomacaudubon #naturejournal. If you don’t have an Instagram account, but would still like to share, follow the same procedure as emailing to Krista and we will post them to PVAS’s Instagram accountwhen we post to PVAS’s Facebook page.
If anyone is interested, I also follow The Nature Journal Club on Facebook and highly recommend it. I look forward to seeing what you come up with this month! ~Joy