Illustrating Nature – The Best Books for Keeping an Art-filled Nature Journal

white oak twig from my winter nature journal
white oak twig from my winter nature journal

An art-filled nature journal differs from the page filled with writing, numbers, and collected data. A nature journal doesn’t have to be filled with words on every page, sketches or detailed drawings can also have a place.

Here is a list of nature journal books that have guidance drawing plants, animals, landscape and other natural subjects.

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Keeping a Nature Journal by Clare Walker Leslie and Charles Roth

This is the best and the standard by which all other books on nature journaling are judged. Clare Walker Leslie is the “queen of nature journaling”. If you like to draw and sketch nature then this book will delight you.

Not only do the authors provide basic information on how to keep a nature journal, but the pages are full of sketches by Clare Walker Leslie and other nature journal keepers.

It was the books of Clare Walker Leslie that got me started down the road of my obsession with nature journaling.

Drawn to Nature by Clare Walker Leslie

The small, square book is filled with examples from Clare Walker Leslie’s nature journals. I like her drawings and sketches. They are not too complicated or complex.
Even those who aren’t artists will be inspired to try their hand are sketch what hey see.

The Watercolorist’s Nature Journal by Jill Bays

This lovely book from Jill Bays reminds me of the Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady by Edith Holden that was published perhaps twenty years ago.

The artwork looks like Beatrix Potter’s art too. It has that British nature watercolor look.

The book covers the basics of watercolor.  It has season-by-season tips on capturing what you see in the world around you.
Creating Nature in Watercolor by Cathy Johnson

Cathy Johnson has provided the nature journal community with delicious books to read for many years. This book is no exception.

I always liked her style. She uses colored pencil in combination with watercolor to produce a sketchy rendering of whatever she is capturing on paper.

She sketches in nature the way I like to, first you draw, then you fill in the color.

The Art of Field Sketching by Clare Walker Leslie

Another classic from Clare Walker Leslie. It this book that got me started nature journaling. I bought this and her book, Nature Drawing, when they were first published and I haven’t looked back since.

Each title is filled with example of nature drawings and sketches from people who took Ms. Walker’s nature journaling workshops and prominent professional artists.

Ms. Walker always inspires in what keeping a nature journal can do.

Both The Art of Field Sketching and Nature Drawing are out-of-print but are available used on

Illustrating Nature by Irene Brady

If you are responsible for creating drawing for a local nature organization then this book can be a real help. Irene Brady teaches you how to create professional-looking nature illustrations of publishable quality. She explains the all the technical details that an illustrator needs to know. Even if you don’t plan to publish your illustrations, her tips and techniques can help you improve the look and layout of your nature journal pages.

Laws Guide to Nature Drawing and Journaling by John Muir Laws

This big book is chock-full of step-by-step diagrams to draw common backyard animals, native wildflowers, trees, and landscapes. There are also journaling helps on making a map, diagramming birdsong, keep lists, and estimating numbers.

Laws Guide to Nature Drawing and Journaling by John Muir Laws on


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