Nature Journaling makes you a better observer, naturalist, and artist and opens a world of beauty and discovery. Learn how to keep your own nature journal and make using it your habit through free monthly workshops and fieldtrips. The Bay Area Nature Journal Club is a diverse community of artists and naturalists, of all levels, who meet together to connect to nature through art. Through free monthly field trips, hands on technique workshops, and community events we explore the Bay Area, developing our artistic and naturalist skills and deepening our love of nature. The club and its activities are a program of the National Wildlife Federation of California. We welcome the diverse communities of the region. The program is intergenerational and family friendly. Seniors and elders are encouraged to participate. No experience necessary. Read the article in Bay Nature.
How to join
This program is free and no registration is required. Show up with your journal and supplies and get ready to explore and draw. View the full schedule of Journal Club events and mark your calendar. You can get notifications about group outing and activities by joining my mailing list and the Meetup group. I also encourage you to join the Club’s Facebook Group to share sketches, drawings, arrange carpools, and connect with the group community. Announcements and events will also be listed in the Facebook group.
Nature Journal Workshops
Join us each month for a 1.5 hour workshop that highlights new aspects of journal keeping such as drawing flowers, making quick landscape studies, sketching birds, noticing important scientific details, or nature poetry. These classes prepare you with drawing skills you can apply on the upcoming field trip. For instance, a field trip to Hawk Hill might be preceded by a workshop on drawing hawks in flight. The technique workshops are repeated in five wheelchair accessible locations around the bay. Workshop highlights will be videotaped and posted to YouTube so you can watch them on my YouTube channel if you were not able to join one of the classes.
Second Tuesday of the Month Second Wednesday of the Month*
Marin County, See Schedule 10:00 AM Alameda County, Oakland Museum, 12:30 PM
San Francisco, See Schedule , 12:30 PM Santa Clara County, SC Valley Audubon, 3:00 PM
San Mateo County, Edgewood Park, 3:30 PM
* Workshops are held on the first consecutive Tuesday-Wednesday of the month. Tuesday workshops will always be on the second Tuesday. Wednesday workshops will usually be on the second Wednesday, but if the month begins on a Wednesday the workshop will be held on the third Wednesday of that month. There will occasionally be schedule changes. See the club’s schedule for details.
Monthly Journal Club Field Trips
Mark your calendars and join our field trip on the last Sunday of each month from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM (unless otherwise noted in the schedule). Trip activities include technique demonstrations, natural history interpretation, time in the outdoors, a potluck lunch, and plenty of time to draw and write. Most field trips will include easy to moderate walking. If field trips are wheelchair accessible or may require more strenuous hiking, they will be described as such in that month’s program description. See the club’s schedule for details. If rain is forecasted for the day of the field trip, the trip may be canceled or relocated to an indoor venue. Check the program description Sunday morning before leaving for updates and changes.
Instructional Videos from Workshops and Field Trips
Where ever possible, we video portions of club activities. If you can not make it to one of our club events or are looking for inspiration for your own classes or club, we hope that these short videos will be of help. You can browse and view the full archive of videos on my YouTube channel.
If you have film editing skills, please consider joining our volunteer team of videographers who film the technique workshops and make them accessible to everyone. A big thanks to Terry Smith, for her help creating these videos.
Art Shows and Exhibitions of Group Work
Bay Area Nature Journal Club members are invited to participate in periodic public shows of their work. These shows can help demonstrate individual improvement and the beauty and diversity of the San Francisco Bay Area. If you know a venue that would be appropriate to feature the work of our group, please contact me with details.
Expectations and what to bring
The Bay Area Nature Journal Club is a supportive community. Participants are expected to treat each other with respect and create a safe place for people to push their boundaries, draw, and write without criticism or fear. Please do what you can to engender this feeling in the group. I encourage all participants to share their tricks and techniques with each other. It is fun to teach and to learn from one another. I encourage you to make journaling and participating in club events part your regular routine. If you have not drawn in a long time, it can be scary to start again. Once you do, you will discover that this new skill develops quickly. Throw yourself into it and be fearless. You can do this. The most important thing is to get yourself to draw a lot. Club events and outings help but it is even better if you can get yourself to draw even more often. Leave your inner critic behind and go for it. If you feel comfortable doing so, bring your latest sketches or poems to share with others. Please also share your artwork, techniques and ideas in the club’s Facebook group. We can all learn a lot from seeing the work of other artists and naturalists. Most importantly, have fun with it- this is a joyous experience.
You do not need a lot of expensive materials to get started. At the most basic level, a field journal and a pencil is all you need. If you want to go further, I have prepared a suggested equipment list. You do not need everything on this list. Keep your kit light and accessible.
Each field trip is also a potluck lunch. Bring a spoon, bowl, and something delicious to share. We often stray far from our vehicles so make sure you have everything packed and portable.
Nature journaling and exploration are great activities for families and children. I encourage you to make journaling and participation in group activities a regular practice for your family. Workshops and demonstrations will be engaging and fun but targeted to adults. Mature children who have demonstrated an interest in nature sketching add a lot to the group. Please evaluate and monitor your children’s interest and energy to help them get the most from the experience and to ensure that their contribution enhances the experience for everyone. You may find it helpful to have a family discussion about behavior expectations and participation before an event.
How can I help?
Your donation makes a big difference to me and my family and helps make participation in the club accessible to low income families and students. This program is free for everyone. It is supported by generous grants and donations from foundations, individuals, and families. This program has an annual budget of $50,000. Please consider becoming a sponsor and donating to support the Bay Area Nature Journal Club. Also please help connect me with philanthropic individuals or organizations who can help sponsor the program. Thank you for your support.
Want to start a Nature Journal Club in your area?
A Nature Journal Club is a great way to build a community around nature study. You can start your own group in your area. Feel free to use my YouTube videos to share with your group or to modify in your own lessons. Contact me and I will create a link to your group. As the program develops, I will post tips, techniques, and lessons learned. Learn more.