Nature journaling: supplies

Published by Lori Pickert on April 10, 2008 at 07:25 PM


The best part of any new project is gathering the supplies, right?

naturesketching.jpgFor kids:

  1. Sketchbook. This is a great one. It has heavy paper so you can watercolor in it and the pages won't fall apart. But any sketchbook will do — you can even make your own.

    I like a journal about 5 x 7", because you only need a small bag to carry it and your supplies, but the page is big enough to draw a whole scene as well as details.

    Pay attention to how the journal is bound — spiral obviously allows you to work flat. If the binding is sewn it may also lay flat — you don't want a journal with a spine that won't open all the way and allow you to use the whole page.

  2. Pencils + self-enclosed pencil sharpener + white eraser. Ideally you will have a few pencils of different hardness. These are sold grouped together inexpensively at the art supply store. But again, ordinary pencils are fine, too.
  3. Pencil case — hard or soft, as long as it protects everything in your bag from being covered with pencil marks and your pencil leads from breaking.
  4. Watercolors + brush. Any old watercolor set will do! They usually come with a brush. I personally like Prang because they are very good quality, last a long time, and the colors are bright and clear. You can buy Prang watercolors at any department store; you don't need to go to the art supply store.

    You can get a little fancier by buying a few extra watercolor brushes of different sizes. It's nice to have at least one extra brush in case you lose yours. Again, you can buy a few brushes bundled together at the art supply store for a few dollars. (You can always find a more expensive version of every art supply, but don't worry about that for this project!) You can also investigate water brushes; they are wonderful for painting on the go: like this or like this. Check your local art or hobby store to see what they have. These unscrew and you fill them with water, then you simply squeeze them to clean the brush. (Bring a piece of old t-shirt or similar to dab against — you can wash and reuse these.)

  5. Water bottle. Again, any old empty water bottle or soda bottle will do. Fill it up about three-fourths of the way. Fancy: I like these water-bottle clips that fit over the neck of the bottle and allow you to clip them to your bag or belt loop. But you can also carry it inside your field bag.
  6. Ziploc bag or small plastic case for holding treasures. Pinecones, leaves, and seed pods will take a beating if they're just thrown loose in your bag or stuffed in your pocket. Keep one ziploc bag (freezer type is best — they are heavy duty) and reuse for each trip.
  7. Field bag to carry your supplies. If you want to do some extended walking or exploring before you draw and paint, it's nice to have your hands free. We'll be sharing our instructions for making easy field bags out of recycled clothing!

Extras: A folded paper towel (for drying your brush or taking up paint), a white crayon (for resist work), a black or other color crayon (for rubbings; a soft pencil also works), and that's about it! Camping cups — the ones that telescope or lie flat — are nice for pouring water into (as bottles are generally tippy). I have a little canvas bucket that I use.

For grown-ups:

  1. Your own kit (everything on the previous list). If you are working with a large group, it doesn't hurt to bring an extra of everything.

    You can carry an extra small bottle of water for the kid who inevitably dumps theirs, but don't be tempted into carrying more water! It's heavy and it will make you cranky and weigh you down.

  2. Sunscreen, bug spray, wipes, bandaids, ziploc bag. (Wipes are great for the unexpected bird bomb or "ugh, what did I sit in?!" One ziploc bag can hold all your garbage. Reuse it if you love the Earth.)
  3. Field guides for looking up interesting finds on the spot.
  4. A roll of masking tape for when kids want to tape something in their journal.
  5. A field bag or backpack to carry your supplies and keep your hands free.

With this kit, you'll be all set.


Comment by MamaBird on April 12, 2008 at 06:09 PM

Yay! Thanks for motivating us to get this all together. We walk through the woods often on our way to the community garden or to stroll the dog, and this is JUST what we need to help channel the artistic impulses (and corral all the nature detritus that makes its way home stuffed into pockets and tricycle baskets and strollers). We got a replacement copy of Calder's Circus today!!! Cheating soul that I am (my mom hooked me up). Another thanks! My 5yo is entranced. She almost wanted to miss her friend's birthday party to sit and read it!

Comment by Lori Pickert on April 12, 2008 at 06:55 PM

Yay about the book! :^D

And thank you! I was just thinking that most of us could gather these things together in one meandering walk through the house — and the things we don't have (a specific nature journal, say, or a field bag) we could make in half an hour. It's so easy, yet it creates these amazing opportunities when you're out and about.

We had our first day out yesterday, and Jack and I have been making field bags, so — argh! — so much to write up & post! :^)

Comment by annette on April 12, 2008 at 07:46 PM

This is so much fun! I've been wanting to do this for some time and you've provided just the motivation. I cannot wait for the field back tutorial -- I've made a couple but always love a new idea (and I need 4 plus one for mama!). ----ak

Comment by Lori Pickert on April 12, 2008 at 09:28 PM

annette — if you make bags, please share photos! :^) and thanks so much! i think it will be lots of fun. ;^)

Comment by sarah on April 13, 2008 at 02:57 PM

both my girls have their nature hike bags, now it's time to fill it with their supplies and hit the trail :)
as usual, thanks for all the inspiration! :)

Comment by Lori Pickert on April 13, 2008 at 08:03 PM

thank *you*, sarah! let me know what you get up to! :^)

Comment by molly on April 15, 2008 at 01:20 PM

oh this is so exciting. the weather is getting really good now...I can't wait to gather supplies. (any excuse to freshen up the supply cabinet is good with me!)

Comment by Lori Pickert on April 15, 2008 at 01:58 PM

the art studio is just about the only place where i am not only willing but enthusiastic to clean and organize! :^)

Comment by Debbie Qalballah on February 24, 2013 at 08:39 AM

you can also get fill=able paint brushes that carry water ready to use - aquaflow brushes or some such thing. makes nature journalling outdoors a little bit easier.

Comment by Lori Pickert on February 24, 2013 at 09:26 AM

debbie, thanks, i need to update this post! we do use water brushes. :)

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