Before going to the Denver Botanic Gardens with the Front Range Nature Journaling club , I revisited my list of field trip tips , and it helped me take better care of myself. I had a stool and sat whenever I could. I took breaks and let myself drink in the setting instead of journaling every second. Still, I learned three more things I hope will help me do even better next time.
Walk off your nerves. I got lost driving to the gardens and was ten minutes late as a result. Drawing in public is nerve-wracking enough. I was wired and knew I wouldn’t be able to settle down without doing something about it. So I started my visit by walking the full length of the gardens and talking to a friend to calm myself down. By the time I reached the alpine rock garden, I was ready to get out my sketchbook and draw.
Make a list of the things you didn’t bring (and one of things you didn’t use). I caught myself saying “I wish I had” three different times, so I made a list right in my journal of the things I missed. While I’m not sure I’ll be adding them to my kit, it seems like a good way to help me remember what I might pack next time. I also have made notes on my packing list after a trip of the things I didn’t use. Both lists seems like a good way to get myself to a stream-lined kit of essentials.
Remember it’s all practice. My goal for this trip was to use color, specifically watercolor. I was successful in that I got color on every page, but I was also frustrated. I spent a long time mixing colors without success. I also wasn’t able to capture detail accurately. I fought with the paints. During the last page of the day, I had to take a lot of deep breaths and remind myself that while I wish I was more skilled with watercolor, this session actually counted as good practice. I wasn’t happy with the results, but I can’t get better if I don’t keep using them.
This trip was much less draining for me than the last one, even though the driving was more stressful and the journaling more frustrating. On my to-do-at-home list is to experiment with other ways of making color. I want a way to capture color quickly, and I’m no longer certain that watercolor is the answer for me. I may try gouache, watercolor pencils, or colored pencils with watercolor washes. More practice is needed, especially if I want to enjoy my “big event” nature journaling field trips.
What are your favorite tips for nature journaling field trips? What’s your favorite color medium for the field?