nature journaling

Watercolor prints

Published by Lori Pickert on October 8, 2008 at 03:34 PM

Here’s a great project for your nature journal.

You can use your watercolor paints to make monoprints in your journal.

Select some leaves and flowers. If you are in a park or public place, be sure it’s okay to pick fresh leaves; otherwise, look for fallen leaves that are still flexible.

Paint onto the leaves. Be careful not to leave too much paint on the leaf. The first few you try will be experimental. You’ll learn as you go.

Sometimes a leaf is so shiny it won’t hold paint. Try painting the underside. Does it have a different texture? The underside usually has more prominent veins and might make a better print.

This is what happens when you use too much paint! The print is still beautiful, though.

Carefully lay your leaf on the page. You can just rub the back of your leaf, or you can use a scrap piece of paper to press it flat and rub gently over it.

How many different colors of leaves can you find?

Try mixing your paints to match your leaf exactly.

Is your leaf just one color? You can paint on a mix of colors.

Remember it will take a minute for your prints to dry. You may want to bring along some extra sheets of paper for practicing and for printing on while your journal pages dry.

Don’t forget to write in your journal where you were when you made your prints.

You can bring along guide books to identify plants, trees, and leaves; if you want to, you can label the ones you know.

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Most of our nature journaling will be done en plein air. But don’t overlook your local nature center. You can get up close and personal with birds, reptiles, and animals that you will be lucky to see from a distance when you’re drawing and painting outdoors.

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See also: the complete list of nature journal activities (as it grows!)

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Nature journals: Drawing outdoors

Published by Lori Pickert on April 20, 2008 at 02:18 AM

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park bench, by Jack, age 8

 

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Nice things to have when you draw outdoors:

• A big binder clip to keep your sketchbook pages from flapping in the breeze.

• A hand lens for looking at flowers, insects, and textures up close.

• Hat with a brim to keep the sun out of your eyes and off your neck.

• There is so much to look at, sometimes it’s hard to choose what to draw. A small frame or viewfinder can help a child focus on a smaller area that is easier to draw.*

• Take a photograph of what you were drawing.

Make a field bag from recycled clothing

Published by Lori Pickert on April 12, 2008 at 07:33 PM

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It's nice to have a small field bag for nature walks — to hold your art supplies and also to bring home any treasures you might find.

An old pair of pants can yield 2, 3, or even half a dozen bags depending on the size. We've made many a field bag from an old pair of jeans. Jack and I made this bag out of an old pair of khaki camo pants he had outgrown.

(Denim and khaki are great materials for a field bag because they are tough, durable, and hold their shape without a lining.)

First, find an old pair of pants. Any size will do!

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We thought that knee pocket would make a great detail on the front of Jack's bag.

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These back pockets would also make a great bag front. If you are using jeans, you can use the front pocket as the front of your bag and the back pocket for the back!

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Mark where you want to cut your fabric, and make sure your sketchbook will fit inside your finished bag!

Right away you'll notice one great thing about making a field bag out of your old clothes — you won't have to sew very much, because you can take advantage of the seams that are already there. We cut this bag out of the middle of one leg, so we sewed the bottom and around the top. If you used the bottom of the leg, and the bottom hem of the leg became the top of your bag, you would only have to sew one seam!

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Cut along the marks you made. Since we cut out of the middle of the leg, we now have a tube of fabric.

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Turn your material inside-out and sew the bottom seam. We triple-sewed ours for extra strength.

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Fold over the top and sew around, making the top seam. You can pin it in a couple of places if you are worried about it moving around on you, but uneven seams give extra character.

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Jack really wanted a matching strap, but you could also make the strap out of any old ribbon or woven tape you have in your stash.

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We cut a strip of fabric about 2 1/4 inches wide and then used that strap to cut out another.

Since there is no pattern for this project, you don't need to worry about how wide your strap ends up being — there is no right or wrong!

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Sew the two long sides of your strap — but not the ends! Because next you need to turn it inside out.

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Sew the strap onto the bag! We went back and forth a few times for extra strength. We are expecting this bag to get some heavy outdoor use.

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All done! Wasn't that easy? While we were at it, we made another one:

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You can decorate your finished bag by sewing on patches, sticking on your favorite pins, embroidering them, or anything else you can think of.

Then fill them up and take a hike!

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See also:

Nature journaling: supplies

Nature journaling: supplies

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

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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.

Art lesson: Nature journal

Published by Lori Pickert on March 29, 2008 at 02:33 PM

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Nature Journal Posts

Nature journaling: supplies

Make a field bag from recycled clothing

Watercolor techniques

Drawing outdoors

Get closer to wildlife at the nature center

Watercolor prints

• • • • •

Spring has arrived and our homeschool art class is moving outdoors.

We'll be working on a long warm-months natural journaling project.

If you're following along at home, you will need a sketchbook, pencil, colored pencils, watercolors (I like Prang), and an old water bottle.

First step will be to make a field bag to carry our supplies!

While you're going through the winter clothes and deciding what to discard or donate, keep an eye out for an old pair of jeans or khakis — they make awesome bags. Check in next week for instructions!

• • • • •

If you send me a link, I will make a blogroll of people who are in our virtual class. And don't forget to join the Camp Creek Art Flickr group! All you need to participate in Flickr is a Yahoo e-mail. Any questions? E-mail me!