“I notice, I wonder, it reminds me of” are powerful prompts that lead you to observe more deeply, ask better questions, and make interesting connections.”
— John (Jack) Muir Laws
This is a great time to get outdoors and draw. Even if you’re a backyard nature watcher, trees and animals may be changing their appearance and tremendous shifts may be happening in migrating birds and other animals.
We first got to meet Jack in person at our first Conference on Dyslexia and Talent almost a decade ago.
He mesmerized us with his personal story (see video below) and approach to creating a more user-friendly field guide, Laws Guide to the Sierra Nevada.
Fast forward to today, and Jack has launched an international movement of nature journaling that has so much of his unique way of observing and discovering embedded in it. He’s clearly got a lot of people hooked and it’s also exciting seeing how many in younger generations are contributing their unique perspectives and voices. At the bottom of the next page, you’ll find Jack and Fiona presenting their unique birding observations to the California Audubon society.
Check out the video to see what a stimulating cognitive exercise it is! When I was younger, my simple efforts and journaling didn’t go as deep at Jack and Fiona.
There is so much questioning and reflection with what they do – it’s quite an inspiration!
In the above example from Audubon, Jack jots down his visual observations of the Painted Bunting and how its colors change in direction to the sun. He also adds the question of whether these birds deliberately display their colors at their brightest when there is a prospective mate? He wasn’t able to answer this question on this trip – but by jotting down the notes in a journal, he increases the chances he’ll remember to look for answer to questions on a future outing.
Below, see how he also takes brief sketch notes of the movements and behaviors of birds that he is watching – one making a tail display by pitching its head down, while the other keeping its head steadier while flicking its tail.
On the bottom Jack’s free associations watching the movements of a crow or raven hunting insects. I like the note, “looks like a dinosaur, oh yeah it is.”
If you’re thinking of trying out Nature Journaling, you can check out Jack’s books.
The Laws Guide to Nature Drawing and Journaling is a great place to start, but Jack also has a lot of blog posts and step-by-step video lessons on his website.
He has regular free “Ask Jack” video sessions as well as online meetings (all ages) and even spawned a grassroots movement of Nature Journaling Clubs based on his ideas (here).
Jack even has a Nature Journal Club for Teens that meets online with different prompts each month through Facebook. Check out some journal examples and get more information about this here.
Below is a recent video blog post of Jack’s on Drawing Owls.