I bought a wonderful book last year with the intention of starting a nature journal. This spring I am going to make it happen. Though I love journaling my garden on this blog and sharing it with all of you, I find a deeper connection sitting immersed in nature with only sketchbook and pencil (or paints) in hand. Last year I tried a brief session observing this bug on a solidago cultivar, Little Lemon.
Let me try to explain the difference between taking a picture of the bug versus studying it without the lens and sketching it instead. I recorded the date, time and weather. I noted the bug had six legs, three to each side. I noted its markings and colors. I noted how large it was and that it had long antennae. I noted what it was doing. Instead of walking away with a "picture of a cool bug" on my solidago, I walked away with a full, 3D moving memory stored in my mind – which is not an easy feat these days as I tend to forget just about everything. I would never remember it had six legs with just a photo. I would not really know its size. I couldn't be sure of what it was doing on the flower. From this picture I cannot tell the antennae were long or that the underside of the bug had opposite colored markings. Later, I was able to look this bug up and know for certain it is a locust borer. It was the first I had seen in my garden.
By the way, the sketches and/or drawings are supposed to improve with practice over time. If I were to come across this borer again, I might do a close up sketch of his legs or mouth, or a drawing comparing the markings on its underside to the markings top side. This would capture even more detail. I would also add color with colored pencils or watercolor paints.
I have been collecting leaves, seeds, nuts, feathers, etc. for some time and I hope to gain a much better insight into the nature of their nature by sketching them into my journal. I will force myself to see more.
To begin, I plan to focus mostly on the plants and creatures stirring in my garden. To be sure this project gets going, I am going to include a monthly post on this blog "From My Nature Journal" from now on – a journal by hand to enhance the digital journal. I hope you will enjoy these future posts and that maybe you'll try a bit of nature journaling yourself!