Starting new habits

by | November 20, 2018 | Basics, Creativity, From my desk, Nature Sketchbook, Sketchbook, Watercolor | 5 comments

In the last few weeks, I’ve thought a lot about habits.

I used to write a lot for this blog, but in the last year it didn’t really find a place in my schedule. I made a book, moved, learned a lot about illustration, started to publish new creative classes online (which has been wonderful), and my own creative goals kept morphing and changing. I was busy searching and experimenting.

I can’t say I’ve really arrived at an endpoint here - and as a matter of fact some of my creative goals have changed recently, more on that in a moment - but I’m in a place now where I want to reconnect with the outside world a bit more.

Recently I’ve also started another habit: I’m keeping a nature journal, which means visually recording observations and findings from the natural world, similar to the notebook of a naturalist. I take it with me when I go hiking (or just for walks) and sketch and scribble down interesting finds. It’s all about observing details in nature that you otherwise wouldn’t notice - it’s not about having a pretty painting in the end, but rather the process of seeing, noticing, asking questions. It’s been a huge transformation for me to discover this technique. Basically it liberated me in my approach to make art and it seems to answer the ever-burning question of WHY I want to make art. I find myself curious again, in the role of an ever learning student, and I’m enjoying observing, learning about nature, getting better at drawing, being able to draw more details (I lacked the patience in that before), and letting go of mannerisms I had adapted in my painting style.

By doing this I’m relearning to see with the curious eye of a naturalist, to really observe and notice details, and I’m enjoying every minute of it. It gives me calm and peace. When I do this, I don’t think about a pretty artwork (or commercial applications), I think about recording details and asking myself questions and filling the page with things that interest me. I make a lot of detailed sketches and written observations. I analyze and draw plants, and I’ve learned a lot about bird anatomy, which helps me so much when drawing birds. It’s amazing how nature works.
I want to explore that scientific, curious side of my art more, and also the loving, observing side that gives attention to the natural world surrounding me. And I think I’d like to share that process here on my blog - building an old habit while forming another new habit.

All that means I will still make creative classes - only the focus might change slightly. In fact I’m preparing a new class right now, about this very topic of nature sketchbooks. I’ll certainly share details about watercolor paints, inks, or other supplies as I explore them further, and how they serve me when I’m sketching in the field, or working in more detail in the studio. I hope to explore many new techniques and I’m fully embracing my beginner’s mindset right now. So if you want to learn with me, you’re in the right place.

I’m glad I discovered nature journals as a way to rediscover art in a fresh way for me, and to remind me that I’m deeply in love with nature and that I want to honor that (and, if I can, to make other people fall in love with nature, too). I’ll definitely write more about this way of journaling very soon.

Incidentally, I’ve also taken a break from social media while all of this happened. This is a good thing. I’ve gained a lot of calm and headspace, and more clarity for the things I envision for myself (art & life-related), and the things I want to spend time and attention on. I feel happier when I’m not chasing likes, or scrolling endlessly through feeds. I also learn more from reading in other blogs and books. I’ve read a lot in the last few weeks!

So, all in all, I hope I can dust off this blog and use it as a place to share my creative goals and love for nature, record experiments and nature explorations, and to share tips and techniques as I discover them. Hopefully this will be a place where we can connect with each other.
Lastly I want this to be a place where I can celebrate nature, in all the small and big ways we can observe.

I’m making a habit out of writing and sketching again, and I hope you will come along with me on this journey - the comment section is open, please leave a comment if you feel like it. Have you ever gone through a similar process?

I hope to see you here!

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  1. I love your folk art classes on Skillshare and I am very excited about your new direction into nature sketchbooks. I found a copy of Keeping a Nature Journal by Leslie/Roth at my local used bookstore recently. I have not started a sketchbook/journal yet. I will be looking forward to your future Skillshare courses on topic.

    • Thank you Tamara, I’m excited to hear that! I have that book, too – it’s wonderful and a great source of inspiration! I’m already working on creating that next Skillshare class, I’m hoping I will have it finished by next week. :-)

      • Fantastic, I’ll can not wait to get the email notification when the class goes live. I spend a quite a bit of time outdoors (which is not hard to do where I live in Northern California). I have been dabbling in watercolor in the past year but only have been practicing in earnest in the past month. Taking a paint kit out on my hikes and camping trips will be my new endeavour.

        • That sounds lovely, Tamara, such a beautiful region and so many hiking opportunities. I hope you aren’t affected by the fires.

          • I was and wore a face mask during the little time I was outside. But now the rain is here and the air quality is much better. PS, I saved your new Nature Journal Skillshare course. I will be starting this weekend.

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Julia Bausenhardt Illustrator & Nature Enthusiast

In this blog I write about art and nature, sketching, pigments and watercolor techniques, nature journaling, workshops and more.
I want to show how you can connect to nature through making art in your sketchbook, and how you can discover both the natural world and your own creativity that way.

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