Friday, August 03, 2007

A review for Poppins: Why I love my Nature Journal

A little while ago, Poppins asked me why I liked the Nature Journal by Claire Leslie Walker. I tried to write it up as a comment on her blog, and then as an email, but it just wasn't inspiring me. Let's try a review blog post approach, shall we? First off, do visit the Amazon link above, Poppins, and peek inside. It will look like blank pages at first, but if you squint, you can see the faint line details on the edges of the pages.

Ok. Here is my journal. I decorated the covers and the inside page with vellum see through stickers. On the inside cover I have my name in stickers, and a sticker that says "Whispers of nature carried through the wind." I liked being able to personalize my journal, as one of my nature study mom-buddies has the same journal.

I have many sketchbooks, and I use them all. What makes this one great for nature journaling specifically, is in the front and the back, it has several drawing lessons and tips for nature journaling, right out of Walker's book (companion to this nature journal), Keeping a Nature Journal. Here is one spread:
Here is another. For an inexperienced artist such as myself, this is nurturing, inspiring, and useful.
Once into the actual journal, the two page spreads are very inviting. I like to write about what I am seeing- describe it in words, and then draw one or two views of my subject (in this case, a branch of an elderberry bush). There is plenty of room for this. On the upper left corner are faint lines for your writing. On the outside corners of each page are faint lines to add the date, time, location of your drawing session.
It also has this handy-dandy page holder-backer-strap-thingy that works very well. I can find the next blank page in a hurry, so that I can spend time drawing that flitty bird rather than flipping through pages. Notice the words at the bottom of the right hand page (and pardon my fingers holding the book open). There are words of encouragement at the bottom of some of the pages. They are inobtrusive, and don't take away from the 'blankness" of the book.

Here are a few examples:
"Drawing even the little things helps to focus the mind, calm the spirit. There's always something to be drawn."

"What I haven't drawn I don't know."

"Add clippings from newspapers, magazines, note cards, or letters from friends to your journal when they relate to natural events."

The only negative I would say about this book is that you cannot fold it backwards. A spiral binding would detract from the "bookness" of this book, if that makes any sense, but I prefer them for functionality.

Be sure to go to Walker's site. She has written a lot of great books, and also has some of her illustrations on her site. I love to look at others' work for inspiration.
Hope that helps, Poppins.


Mama Podkayne said...

LB, I can't find the posts with teh watercolor pencil art. Is it under srtist's way or another tag or did I just miss it?

Though, your paint stick art has me drooling. I very much want a set of those.

Needleroozer said...

It's the WIP- frog collage post, Mama P.

You will LOVE the paintsticks!! I just ordered a blender stick and was drooling over all the colors.

Mama Podkayne said...

Ah ha! I love your frog collage. I just missed the line about the WC pencils. I took mine to the pool last week and let the kiddo put her drawings in the water to see what happens.

I love that I have so much more control over color and blending than I did with traditional WC's. That part always frustrated me.

I am getting me some paint sticks asap!

GailV said...

Great review! As someone who spends hours looking for the "perfect" blank book, I respect the time you took to write this review.

The problem I have with spiral bindings is that they eventually unspiral themselves. And I had a fancy sketchpad/journal with a ringbinding sort of like the Girl Scout handbooks; the back cover will no longer stay on it. So these days I prefer the more bookish binding.

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for taking the time to do this! I've got a great sense of the journal now.

I've really been enjoying the "Keeping a Nature Journal" book from her these past weeks. I keep sipping at it because it really isn't a 'one big gulp' kind of book. More and more I'm realizing just how little I know about the environment around me. It's appalling. I don't even know the name of all the trees in my yard.


Pamela said...

Great suggestions ~ a resource I really am going to check out!

Thanks for sharing.