Biography

            From an early age my parents instilled in me a deep love and respect for nature. Over the years, that love has grown to a commitment to stewardship and a passion to share the delight of exploring nature with others. I now devote my work to creating field guides that celebrate biodiversity and are easy to use to help introduce new audiences to natural history and connecting people to nature through art and field journaling.

In 2001 I began an ambitious project to create a new and fully illustrated guide to the natural history of the Sierra Nevada.  After six years of research, 2,710 original watercolor illustrations and over 1,700 species, I completed The Laws Field Guide to the Sierra Nevada. The book is available through this website (signed copy) or in bookstores near you (may I suggest a local independent bookstore). I am now writing a guide to the natural history of the California Coast Range from Monterey to Mendocino. I have recently published The Laws Guide to Drawing Birds. This richly illustrated manual is written to help you draw birds both in the studio and in quick field sketches.

I teach nature exploration and field sketching classes throughout California (and sometimes even farther afield). Drawing and sketching is a way to look more carefully at nature. Time and again I discover that there is an infinite world of beauty and wonder waiting to be discovered if I can make myself slow down and observe deeply. Drawing slows you down and makes you look, again and again, until you start to truly see what is before you. Drawing is not a given gift but a skill that anyone can develop when they make nature sketching their habit. I am dedicated to helping people come into a deeper communion with nature through teaching people how to draw and sketch from their own observations. Learn more in my Nature Drawing links and blog posts. You can see a listing of upcoming classes and events either in list view or calendar view.

I am the founder and host of the Bay Area Nature Journal Club. A free, family friendly, intergenerational community who connect with nature through art and field journaling. I am the primary author and editor of the California Native Plant Society Curriculum: Opening the world through Nature Journaling. This standards based, curriculum is kid tested and teacher approved and integrates science, language arts, and visual arts through teaching students to keep a nature journal. The full illustrated text is available for free through this site. I am also working to get copies of my Sierra guide into the hands of children in the Sierra Nevada. To this end, I have developed an education program called Following Muir’s Footsteps, that engenders passionate love of nature, personal understanding of natural history and commitment to stewardship. This program gets students out in the field, learning from their own observations and using field guides and nature journals as the basis for discovering nature around them. The curriculum links to the State of California’s science, math, language, and social studies standards.

You can learn more about me and my work by reviewing articles that have been published in local and national media.

Short Biography for Events and Introductions

Naturalist, educator and artist John (Jack) Muir Laws is in love with the natural world and has lived his live sharing this passion with others. He is trained as a wildlife biologist and is a Research Associate of the California Academy of Sciences. Jack has taught nature education teacher since 1984 in California, Wyoming, and Alaska. He teaches the tools to help people develop as naturalists and stewards including, ways to improve your observation, memory and curiosity, conservation biology, natural history,  scientific illustration, and field sketching all while having fun and falling more deeply in love with the world.  In 2009, he received the Terwilliger Environmental Award for outstanding service in Environmental Education. He is a 2010 TogetherGreen Conservation Leadership Fellow with the National Audubon Society. He was the 2011 artist for International Migratory Bird Day. Laws has written and illustrated books about art and natural history including The Laws Guide to Drawing Birds (2012), Sierra Birds: a Hiker’s Guide (2004), The Laws Guide to the Sierra Nevada (2007), and The Laws Pocket Guide Set to the San Francisco Bay Area (2009). He is a regular contributor to Bay Nature magazine with his “Naturalists Notebook” column.  He is the primary author and editor of the curriculum: Opening the world through Nature Journaling. This free teaching guide is kid tested and teacher approved and integrates science, language arts, and visual arts through keeping a nature journal. He is the founder and host of the Bay Area Nature Journal Club, monthly free nature sketching workshops, field trips and events, connecting people with nature through art.