“Life is full of beauty. Notice it. Notice the bumble bee, the small child, and the smiling faces. Smell the rain, and feel the wind.” – Ashley Smith
Journaling is a dying art. In our twenty-first century computer generation, it seems as if people simply do not have the time or desire for even a hand written correspondence. Years ago it seemed as if all young men and women carried journals with them, taking notes on observations along with writing personal reflections about their days.
There are many benefits to journaling, such as nurturing penmanship, encouraging drawing from life, developing independent studies, and stirring up creativity. Beyond the educational benefits, journaling also nurtures the soul, affording some of the best quality time within one’s day. Furthermore, it becomes a log of one’s life, documenting countless events and anecdotes that would otherwise fade from memory. It is a priceless heirloom to be shared with future generations. But the greatest aspect of journaling could possibly be that it provides time to reflect, learning more about nature and oneself, along with affording the opportunity to have a deeper understanding of God.
Our theme for this journaling course is nature. It is not only God’s museum but also His cathedral, a place where one can enter into a wonderful communion with the Creator of all life. Many of the great minds of the past found their deepest wellspring of inspiration in the midst of such ambience. As Antonin Dvorak penned, “I study with the birds, flowers, God and myself.”
The key to successful journaling is to put your best efforts into it. This task is possibly a new beginning for you and can prove to be quite demanding and intimidating. Don’t become frustrated with your lack of drawing or writing abilities. The two are related disciplines that, with patience and practice, can prove to be wonderful friends. My penmanship has become much better over the years and the countless drawings from nature have greatly improved. Remember, practice makes for improvement, and journaling should nurture a love for both writing and art. As Leonardo da Vinci once penned, “All good things come at the price of labor.”
With this in mind, I leave you, pen and journal in hand, having high expectations that you will not only succeed in this course of study but also obtain an inner satisfaction from your accomplishments. A journal is but a season of your life, written in your own hand and illustrated uniquely by you. Search your heart, write your observations, be persistent, and your journal will become a treasure to share with all.
“Blossom by blossom the spring begins.” Algernon Charles Swinburne
Nature & the Classroom: Budding Blossoms Nature Journal Activity
A great treasure in nature is the blossom. Spring is the paramount season for studying such masterpieces, as God plays out his symphony with one beautiful blossom after another. A blossom is nothing less than a flower, cup-shaped, with overlapping petals.
For this assignment, do two blossom studies in your journal. In the first, simply sketch it with your black pen. You might want to draw it lightly in pencil first. Don’t be too heavy with the outline of the blossoms. When finished, color the blossoms with your colored pencils. For softer pastel tones, blend white in with your colors or lightly erase some of the color. Notice the study of blossoms from a Japanese weeping cherry tree (right). The blossoms descend from the branches. I simply put the branch in a vase and sketched it, then turned the drawing upside down to have the correct effect.
Do your second blossom sketch on another sheet of paper (preferably a semigloss or heavier stock paper). Using a basic set of water soluble markers, sketch the blossoms with your yellow marker. Then, draw five circles about the size of a nickel near your drawing, coloring one red, one orange, one purple, one green, and one brown. Finally, take a wet brush and rub it into the circles, painting your petals with these light pastel colors. The redbud study (below) was sketched with a fine black pen and then colored with markers. Notice how loose the drawing is. A touch of brown was added to the branches. Draw branches with angles and remember, limbs and branches become thinner and thinner the farther they extend out. Be attentive to add the knobs, or knuckles, at the end of each section for a little added realistic touch. The shaded areas of the branch also have some of the deeper violet of the blossoms, creating a sense of harmony. When your picture is dry, you might want to add some more details with your black pen. If you like the finished results, cut it out and tape or glue stick it to your next journal page. Put the date on the top and write about your day. What was the weather like? What is the name of your blossoms? Do you like your sketches? Which do you like best and why?
“Merrily, merrily shall I live now. Under the blossom that hangs on the bough.” William Shakespeare
Barry Stebbing, creator of How Great Thou Art Publications, has completed over 60 journals throughout his lifetime. Mr. Stebbing now has a program, “Nature Drawing & Journaling,” in which he shares many valuable pointers in drawing from nature and keeping a journal. Over 60 in full color delightful art lessons. Great for the classical classroom. For journals, materials or text please call: 1-800-982-DRAW (3729), or visit his website at: www.howgreatthouart.com