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Monday, May 20, 2013

Nature Journal Workshop at the FNPS Conference

Quercus falcata leaves, souvenirs from Jacksonville.

Last Thursday I led a Nature Journal Workshop on the opening day of the 33rd Annual Florida Native Plant Society's (FNPS) conference, Celebrating La Florida: The Land of Flowers.  Eleven enthusiastic participants and I met on the back deck of the Herbert University Center at the University of North Florida in Jacksonville, ready to learn.

It was a varied group, with some having had some sketching experience, and some just beginning.  Some wanted to learn nature journaling to document their native gardens, some wanted to use it as a learning tool, and several people mentioned that they hoped it would help them slow down and improve their observation of the natural world.

Starting out - learning about the supplies provided.
As part of the workshop, each member of our group received a starting sketch bag with a 6x9 inch Aquabee sketchbook, mechanical pencil, Micron Pigma pen, Dick Blick folding palette with a few Daniel Smith watercolors, a medium size Niji Aquabrush, and a White Pearl eraser.  I also included a handout on the paints provided and a booklet of drawing tips that everyone could refer to later.

After an introductory overview of materials, we set off to do some sketching on the lovely grounds of the university.  I did  a short demonstration of my process, then participants had a chance to draw.

Walking around the lake to find our sketching spot.
I tried to get around to each person to help with any challenges.  There were some beautiful yarrow plants blooming -- which means feathery foliage and multiple flower heads -- definitely a challenge for anyone's skill level!  Halfway through our three-hour time frame, we took a break and learned about the waterbrush and the watercolors I selected.  Needless to say, the waterbrush was a big hit!

Painting watercolor swatches was a good way to learn how to use the waterbrush.
We took some time to play with our watercolors, and wrapped up with a look through some of the reference books I had brought up.  I also brought along some of my sketch journals for people to look through since I use a variety of techniques and approaches to nature journaling.

I had a great time sharing what I love to do, and hope that my new-found friends continue on with their sketching.  Keeping a nature journal has given me a lot of joy, helped me learn more about the natural world around me, and broadened my observation skills.  It's also helped me improve my drawing skills, and given me a chance to slow down and take time to enjoy the process.

Getting some great feedback on the workshop!
I'd like to say thanks to Ginny Stibolt, FNPS member and author, who invited me to present the workshop.  You can also read more from her live blog on the FNPS website, with photos of our sketching time.  I'd also like to say thanks to those who attended the workshop for your enthusiasm and feedback -- Happy Sketching!

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