Advance planning can give you the beautiful nature journal that you’ll love to share with friends.
John Muir Laws has produced many great videos on nature drawing on his YouTube channel. One of those videos is a workshop lead by artist and nature journaler, Kristin Meuser. In the video Kristin teaches her method of creating attractive nature journal page layouts.
She teaches a nature journal page layout process which is easy to understand and duplicate.
Kristin’s process basically boils down to using a grid to organize elements on a page. This isn’t a rigid organization but flexible with guidance.
If you have studied art, you know all great art has an underlying structure.
Kristin’s grid framework works on any size page. Using the grid framework, you place elements in the grid blanks. I like how she draw objects in quite small sizes and brings them together into a cohesive whole. In the video, she does a good job of demonstrating her technique.
The elements Kristin includes in her pages are:
- color matching dots
- mini landscapes
- close ups of animals, plants, rocks, etc.
Kristin uses a blue non-photo pencil then a graphite pencil and finally watercolor to draw her images. Adding written notes combines observation with science. For more on scientific observation see my article on the Grinnell Method.
Materials and Equipment
Kristin uses a landscape watercolor pad, watercolors, and a folding palette on her field trips.
The five tools she uses are:
- watercolor brush
- [amazon_textlink asin=’B008YX6072′ text=’blue pencil’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’connectingw0b-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’60184a2c-bf03-4598-9a11-6d99defa66ff’] (Amazon.com link)
- graphite pencil
- white gel pen
- landscape format sketchbook
Her watercolor palette includes 8 colors with three primaries and five “cheat” colors. The basic colors are cyan, quinacridone pink, and hansa yellow are made by Daniel Smith. (Each link is to the paint sold on Amazon.com.) I want to try the quinacridone pink. Daniel Smith is the only maker of this color. I have used Daniel Smith watercolor for years. The quality is top-notch.
The three primaries include:
- [amazon_textlink asin=’B001PT6Z1I’ text=’magenta pink’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’connectingw0b-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’19d61270-6482-4c65-af26-3de9f5124a10′] (Amazon.com link)
- yellow – Hansa yellow
- cyan – Phthalo blue green (green shade)
The “cheat” colors are:
- ultramarine blue
- perylene green
- burnt umber
- magic shadow violet
- the fifth color I didn’t catch
Watch the Video on Nature Journal Page Layouts
The video is 46 minutes long.
Download the handouts for the exercises
The grid handouts are useful to practice the techniques. I printed out the handouts and tried out the exercise. In the video the students used tracing paper to trace the grids to play with ideas. I used tracing paper, too. My layout sketches are showcased in this post.
You can download the handouts on John Muir Laws Website https://johnmuirlaws.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/combined-page-design.pdf
John’s website is https://johnmuirlaws.com/
Kristin Meuser lives in the Las Vegas area and teaches workshops in the area. You can find information on her website naturemesue.com.
John Muir Laws is coming out with a new book on entitled, [amazon_textlink asin=’1597144908′ text=’Teaching Nature Journaling’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’connectingw0b-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’059a400e-de07-4e53-b1e6-7f2618fb4f77′](Amazon.com link). It will be published in May 2020.
I really enjoyed this video. I hope you also find it useful. If you have taken Kristin’s class or have any tips, let me know in the comments below.