Nature Journaling

Doreen Bolnick

July 16, 2022   9am - 12pm


Here's an easy technique to learn natural history, deepen your connection to nature and, with no extra effort, get the benefit of mindfulness meditation. We'll use words, numbers, arrows, diagrams and doodles or sketches to record: What we see; What we wonder; What our research shows. We begin by focusing on individual organisms in nature. Eventually our pages show how they're all connected. As Rachel Carson said, "In nature, nothing exists alone."  Art skills are not required since doodles and diagrams will do the job. The program includes a slide show, demos indoors and out, time to practice field journaling, a return indoors to research what we found and have a chance to try several types of media to add color to our pages. 


Paper: Beginners who are worried about their drawing skills are encouraged to use lined paper, as did many of the best-known naturalists such as Jane Goodall and John Muir.  Lined paper takes the pressure off the expectation of creating beautiful art. Others may bring a sketchbook with plain white paper in any size, for example: 5.5" x 8" to 8.5” x 11".

2B pencil with eraser. Optional: pen, colored pencils, watercolor pencils or watercolor.

Doreen is the author-illustrator of A Guide to the Common Wild Flowers of Zambia, co-author and illustrator of Wild Flowers of Southern Mozambique and co-author and illustrator of the first two editions of Waterfalls of the White Mountains.

Pre-Registration is required Email:, and have the word “Journaling” in the subject line.  Participation is limited, so sign up early.


Event Report

Doreen Bolnick

July 16, 2022   9am - 12pm


It was a beautiful morning at the park and a perfect setting for journaling artist, Doreen Bolnick, to talk about and demonstrate the art of nature journaling.


There were about 15 folks who participated in the workshop that began in the Great Room of the Summit House.


Doreen talked about some of the famous observers and recorders of nature in history. This slide depicts an example of John Muir's work.


She had an example from the Lewis and Clark expedition and from Charles Darwin and here the extraordinary Alexander von Humbolt - one of the first scientists to propose that South America and Africa may have once been connected.

The country diary painta.jpg

One of Doreen's inspirations for thinking about doing nature journaling was Edith Holden. Another was Janet Marsh who wrote Nature Diary. Doreen can readily identify with people who first want to try their hand at this artform. She remembers very well feeling afraid and intimidated herself. But she kept plugging away and in her first year and a half produced 9 journals!


When travels took Doreen to Africa she continued her passion for journaling and  produced 3 published works over those years illustrating various natural aspects of Zambia, Namibia and Mozambique.

One of the great joys of this "hobby" was connecting and collaborating with native scientists and others to the extent that they became co-authors.

And, despite the inevitable pressures of producing published works, we would bet that she definitely agrees with Clare Walker Leslie that some of the benefits of journaling are mindfulness, stress-relief, and finding solace.


For aspiring nature journalists, Doreen recommends John Muir Law's work. Here are 4 important concepts: Notice, Wonder, Investigate and Zoom out.

At his website,, Doreen pointed out that there are many helpful videos. 


Here's a helpful hint to keep in mind from bird expert David Sibley - even if you find your sketch misses the mark.


After the slide presentation inside, the group assembled in a lovely spot outside where Doreen began to demonstrate various sketching techniques.


The group seemed eager to pick up some tips from our expert.


After the session on the porch, the group went out back and found wild raspberry and morning glory flowers. Doreen demonstrated sketching a bit more. Then the group was given a half hour to produce their own sketches.  Subsequently, back up on the porch, Doreen demonstrated adding color to a sketch which the group was encouraged to do.

We have already received a lot of positive feedback on this workshop from the attendees and hope to do this again in the future.

Doreen is an excellent teacher and it is obvious that she easily identifies and connects with her students. Thank you so much, Doreen, for coming to Weeks State Park to do your wonderful workshop.