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A page from one of instructor Susie Kowalik's journals.

A page from one of instructor Susie Kowalik’s journals.

by Paula Blair Dabbs, Volunteer, Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden

A page from author Paula Dabb's art journal on Peonies.

A page from author Paula Dabb’s nature journal on Peonies.

I signed up for the Nature Journaling class at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden because I love to draw and I thought it would complement my classes in Botanical Illustration, also offered at the garden.  But as I learned from instructor Susie Kowalik, Nature Journaling is rewarding for anyone; whether you like to write, record, draw, doodle, or just spend time outdoors observing the natural world. This course is a  half-day workshop where you can learn to draw from nature in a way that’s fun and portable.

My classmates included writers who wanted to add small sketches to their notebooks, as well as artists who hastily added notes to their detailed drawings.  What we all had in common by the end of the class was a deeper appreciation of the Garden that came from taking the time to stop, observe, and record our environment.

Kowalik  has been teaching at Lewis Ginter for 6 years and doesn’t mind  sharing her own personal  journals with the class.

“Journaling this way uses both words and images to notice what you have seen;  to truly look at it and find out why it drew your attention in the first place,” she says.

Nature journal entry by  teacher Susie Kowalik

Nature journal entry by teacher Susie Kowalik

Each student is provided with a journal, the perfect pen for journaling, and leaves the class with  several completed pages in their journal.  For those who say,  but I haven’t drawn since 5th grade,  or I can’t draw a straight line,  Susie  also offers a class called “How to Draw Stuff in the Garden” who want to sharpen their skills before advancing. “How to Draw Stuff (in the Garden)” is a class as unstuffy as it title.  Kowalik says, “I’ve had so many ask me, ‘are you sure it’s drawing for a real beginner?’  Yes, it is.”   It’s  not uncommon for students to leave this class amazed by their new-found or rediscovered skills in art.

Nature Journaling is  Saturday, September 29, 9:30 am – 2:30 pm

How to Draw Stuff (in the Garden) is 3 Saturdays, 9 am-12:30 pm, September 8, 15, 22  (NOTE: This class typically “sells out” so register early.

For more information on classes at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, please visit our complete class course guide.

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4 Responses to “Nature Journaling ….Not Just for Artists”

  1. Meg medina says:

    This sounds so magical. The garden is a treasure in Richmond, and I can’t think of a more beautiful place to write!

  2. Many thanks to Susie for letting me interview her for this article. I appreciate her generosity with her time and talent.

  3. Thanks Meg! We hope you come back soon & write something magical. I’m excited to share your books with my 11-year-old daughter. We’re sorry we missed you at the Main Library for Girls of Summer. Heard it was a great program. ~Jonah Holland, PR & Marketing Coordinator

  4. […] Want to read more? Here’s another blog post about nature journaling.  […]

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