View Full Version : Sharon's natural world journal

01-07-2014, 09:48 AM
Back in October I enjoyed an art workshop at my local nature reserve (http://sharonwilliamsonart.blogspot.co.uk/2013/10/a-brush-with-nature-workshop.html), drawing and painting things from nature. I love drawing and sketching, and the natural world is my favourite subject, so I decided that it might be a Good Idea to try a 'nature journal'.

Armed with this Good Idea I treated myself a Stillman and Birn zeta sketchbook and pondered upon some kind of direction. I've decided to try to find things that catch my eye, maybe from the hedgerows and fields, or from the veg patch, greenhouse or garden. I'm anticipating a lot of foliage! In case I'm incapacitated, or the weather is too awful to contemplate venturing outside, I have a collection of bits and pieces to fall back on - feathers, pine cones, seashells etc. Maybe when the weather improves I'll take the journal outside. We'll see!

The point of this exercise is to take my time with these studies. My usual modus operandi is fairly rapid pen and wash sketching, which I love doing and feels very fresh and lively. On the workshop I found I also enjoyed the discipline of really looking at the subject very closely, so this is about making time to do more of that. And maybe it'll improve my general sketching and drawing too...


First page, some empty snail shells I found under a hedgerow while out for a very wet and muddy walk.


Next page, the last of the chillies from the greenhouse.

Happy drawing all:)

01-07-2014, 02:56 PM
These are delightful sketches.

01-07-2014, 04:29 PM
These are both lovely. I too love drawing and painting things from nature. They can be so intricate and wonderful when often people don't pay much attention to them. I look forward to seeing more pages.

01-07-2014, 06:39 PM
Lovely sketches and the theme is good with lots of options.

There was a programme on the history of still life, which is on iplayer if you didn't see it. It was interesting.

Joan T
01-07-2014, 09:39 PM
Lovely sketches. I'll be waiting to see more!!!

01-08-2014, 05:14 AM
Thanks for the comments! vhere, yes I caught that programme when it was on the other night - fascinating.

01-09-2014, 03:03 AM
Looks like a great start to me!

01-10-2014, 04:51 AM
Very interesting thread. Beautiful sketches.

01-10-2014, 09:34 AM
lovely sketches, and a great idea for a journal, looking forward to more :D

01-19-2014, 01:23 PM
The next page in my journal: long-tailed tit, graphite



Usually long-tailed tits are busy little birds travelling in small flocks; I'd noticed this one early in the day, sitting near the bird feeders, on its own and all hunched up, looking rather ill. I wasn't surprised, then, when I went out a few hours later and found it dead, poor little thing. An opportunity nonetheless for a drawing, and a chance to get a good look at one of these charming little birds close up...

01-19-2014, 03:04 PM
Great sketches. Poor bird tho'.

01-20-2014, 01:17 PM
Sad, but beautiful sketches.

Joan T
01-21-2014, 09:07 AM
Poor little thing. Nice sketches!

02-10-2014, 03:08 PM
Natural world journal, next page…

This is a collection of feathers from a red-legged partridge, from my collection of bits and pieces (it’s been far too wet, muddy, cold and windy to venture far outside to find stuff to draw and paint, and I’m a bit of a wimp too…)



02-11-2014, 12:08 AM
Poor long-tailed tit, but great sketch! I loves those small white fluffy balls and wish I could see them often. Drawing your own 'treasures' are always nice!

02-11-2014, 11:57 AM
Nice nature sketches. Artists have often use a 'deceased' animal for a study. You learn a lot as it does not keep moving. On the other hand birds which are injured often recover if kept warm for a couple hours in a small box in a warm place. Children once brought me a stunned bird they found. I warmed it up in a shoe box in the airing cupboard and when they returned a couple hours later they were delighted to see me release the bird as it flew from my hand. (For Americans, an airing cupboard in England is a small cupboard where the hot water heater sits. It has shelves above the heater therefore warm and towels are usually kept there.)

02-11-2014, 03:08 PM
Lovely feather studies.

Joan T
02-11-2014, 07:24 PM
Love those feathers!!! I think they are like snowflakes...no two are alike.

02-12-2014, 09:04 AM
gorgeous feathers. I love to draw them as well, such fabulous textures and shapes and subtlety of colours

02-14-2014, 04:50 AM
Nice drawings - if you're not squeamish, you can put your poor bird under an upturned flowerpot in a corner of the garden and let nature take its course, you'll have an interesting skeleton to draw. I've got a puffin currently 'lying in waiting" :-)


02-15-2014, 10:16 AM
beautiful sketches, but oh how sad about the little bird, they have such a tuf time in the cold wet weather. Lovely sketches tho' :D

02-25-2014, 08:32 AM
Thanks for the comments:)

Lesley, what a brilliant idea! (No, I'm not in the slightest bit squeamish!). I'll remember that for future.

Marmsk, I agree it's infinitely preferable if they recover! I had a juvenile bullfinch hit the window here quite hard. I duly went and collected it, popped it in a shoebox somewhere quiet, and waited to see if it would perk up (it was completely stunned). It took a few hours but it did recover, thank goodness.

Next up in the journal, ivy from one of the hedgerows round here. Lots of leaves, and I totally failed to capture their shine! But the berries were fascinating. The more you look, the more you see...


02-25-2014, 02:52 PM
Beautiful leaves and berries.

02-28-2014, 08:35 AM
This was an unexpected find - my other half discovered it on the windowsill in his workshop. It's a small tortoiseshell butterfly, which must have found a corner to hibernate, but perished.


02-28-2014, 02:18 PM
They don't live very long in any case. Great sketch.

Joan T
03-01-2014, 10:03 PM
Lovely job on the berries and that wonderful butterfly!

03-07-2014, 09:15 AM
Beautifully done.

03-09-2014, 10:57 AM
Beautifully observed

03-17-2014, 08:23 AM
What beautiful nature sketches! I love the little bird sketches - sorry for the little bird but what a great opportunity to sketch from "life". Great job on the shells, feathers and butterfly also.

03-28-2014, 11:57 AM
Here are the next couple of pages of my natural world sketchbook/journal, daffodils from the garden, and white dead nettle (Lamium album) from next to the cricket field here in the village.


Yay, spring's here at last:clap:

03-28-2014, 02:10 PM
Beautiful spring sketches.

03-28-2014, 02:19 PM
beautiful butterfly!

Joan T
03-28-2014, 04:00 PM
Love the daffodils and the dead nettle sketches!

03-28-2014, 05:22 PM
I currently work in the Stillman & Birn Beta Series art journals (rough, cold press finish). I've wanted to try the one you are using. It is the smoother finish, no? Hot pressed? I'll have to pick one up when I am at the art store. (a good excuse for a field trip!) I love all your nature studies, especially the daffodil, as it is my birth month flower. :)

03-29-2014, 01:09 PM
Thanks for the kind comments!

Kathleen, yes the zeta is the hot pressed surface, nice and smooth, and the paper is a reasonable weight, which means it takes washes well and doesn't bleed through (I'm using both sides of each page with no problems so far). Nice for pencil too. I've just got hold of a little sample pack of the different S&B papers so I'm going to have a little play...

03-29-2014, 07:05 PM
Lovely flowers.

My favourites are the beta and delta, though I do like the zeta too. I love the heavy quality paper.

03-30-2014, 06:54 AM
Lovely spring sketches. The butterfly is gorgeous with its bright colours. I'm always sad when I find one that made didn't make it through the winter - they are becoming such a rare sight, so i treasure every live one I see.

04-02-2014, 01:39 PM

Next page, pencil this time. This is a twig of (I think, trying to remember what the leaves looked like) an ash tree, knocked off next door's tree by a delivery truck. Being the good neighbour I am I went and picked up the debris, and pocketed this broken-off end to draw:lol:


04-02-2014, 02:12 PM
Beautiful sketch.

04-11-2014, 10:44 AM
The next page. I've no idea what tree this is from; I picked this twig up from a footpath in Cambridge. Done with watercolour pencils and water-soluble graphite pencils.


04-11-2014, 01:46 PM
I don't have any idea either. But, it looks very interesting. Great drawing.

04-11-2014, 08:45 PM
Nice sketches! Loved the butterfly and the daffies. Your mystery twig looks interesting.

04-26-2014, 01:10 AM
Your branche sketches are lovely!!

Joan T
04-28-2014, 08:58 PM
Both twigs are lovely. The shading on the first one is nicely done and the subtle colors in the second one are great!

04-30-2014, 03:14 PM
Thanks for the comments:thumbsup:

Next page: forget-me-nots, from the garden.


04-30-2014, 03:54 PM
Delightful. Love the blues and greens in this.

05-01-2014, 03:41 AM
Delightful is exactly the right word :)

Joan T
05-01-2014, 05:02 PM
Nice delicate look to your blue forget-me-nots!

05-06-2014, 03:00 PM
Thanks for the feedback!:thumbsup:

The next page in the natural world sketchbook - pencil and watercolour sketch of some asparagus spears from my raised beds in the garden. Shortly before they were eaten. Yum...


05-07-2014, 02:29 PM
Wow, I've been a total failure at growing asparagus in my garden. Lovely sketch.

Joan T
05-09-2014, 04:54 PM
Great job on the shape and coloring of the asparagus!

05-10-2014, 04:14 AM
Beautifully observed, sensitive painting :)

06-05-2014, 12:18 PM
Thanks guys for the feedback!

Next page is a foxglove, drawn and painted in the garden during a warm and sunny spell...


06-05-2014, 02:09 PM
Gorgeous foxglove sketch.

06-05-2014, 04:16 PM
Lovely foxglove

Joan T
06-08-2014, 09:29 PM
Lovely shading on your foxglove.

06-13-2014, 02:03 PM
Thanks for the comments, much appreciated!

Next page in the natural world journal, this time it's dog roses - when the swifts are screaming in the sky and the dog roses are blooming, then it's definitely summer! These were from a hedgerow out in the farmland here.


06-13-2014, 03:18 PM
Gorgeous. Such delicate petals.

Joan T
06-13-2014, 10:33 PM
Beautiful flowers and leaves!!

06-19-2014, 01:43 PM
Fungi from the garden, growing in the lawn round about where we (that's the 'royal we' :wink2: ) chop logs. Don't know what they are - there's a couple of elderly specimens, plus a couple of youngsters.


Joan T
06-19-2014, 05:27 PM
Oh, I love the fungi sketches!!! They are such interesting things and people rarely sketch them. Nice!!

06-20-2014, 04:20 AM

06-20-2014, 04:25 AM
Wagtail, interesting journal you have going there! I can't wait to see more.

06-20-2014, 03:16 PM
Marvelous fungi.

06-22-2014, 06:32 AM
What wonderful paintings. I love the asparagus in particular. No I love them all!!!

06-30-2014, 09:54 PM
Gorgeous nature sketches, so accurate and elegant. I love the way you capture detail yet keep a certain loose liveliness to your style. They're all wonderful, the botanicals and the bird and feathers and shells and twigs. I've always admired this sort of thing and envy you being able to get out and about when weather allows.

I read through from the beginning and will definitely be watching now!

07-04-2014, 03:41 PM
Robert, you are evidently a sucker for punishment! I've got a while to go yet before I fill this sketchbook, hope you continue to enjoy!

07-26-2014, 09:25 AM
Next couple of studies...


The flower spike sent up by one of our Aloe plants....


...and the clematis growing in the back garden.

I'm off out now to enjoy the sunshine!

07-26-2014, 02:45 PM
Pretty flower sketches. My aloe never blooms.

07-26-2014, 06:02 PM
Two more great botanicals! I have seen aloe flowers once before, can't remember where, these are spot on! Gorgeous! Love the clematis too, with its distinctive leaves and the way you have them angled every which way so naturally.

08-02-2014, 08:04 AM
Great sketches as always, I really enjoy your nature studies!

10-09-2014, 11:22 AM
At last, a new drawing in my somewhat neglected natural world journal...

These are conkers - the fruits of the horse chestnut tree. A sure sign that autumn is here! The top drawing was done with coloured pencils, and the bottom group is in watercolour. Nice to explore the different qualities of these media!


10-09-2014, 01:01 PM
wow, just went through these really quick and i'll come back and go more slow but your work is beautiful! Very inspiring.

10-09-2014, 01:38 PM
Lovely conkers in both media.

10-10-2014, 10:21 AM

10-12-2014, 07:01 PM
Great conkers! I'm in love with this entire journal. Went back through and read from page one again, in awe of all the florals. Also you solved an identification for me. The purple flowers I have a photo of and mean to paint aren't "sorta like a foxglove maybe," they ARE foxgloves. Just a really vivid purple foxglove, when I know the garden varieties come in different colors.

So when I paint mine I'll call it a foxglove.

I've seen a cool Conkers drawing in Derwent pencils on the Derwent site years ago, it was one of their wallpapers. I think it was done with Derwent Drawing Pencils, dry work in soft browns and deep darks. Might have been one of their other colored pencils types. Yours are so perfect they made me smile! I've never seen them in life but the Derwent drawing was one of those extreme accuracy things like you do, no question it's the same object!

11-30-2014, 02:23 PM
I want to add my admiration too~ you have such a lovely journal going here, I really hope to see lots more sketches! I can't decide which ones I like best, they're all so nice..

Joan T
12-01-2014, 08:02 PM
I love how you did the prickles on the chestnut. These are great! We used to have a chestnut tree in our front yard when we were growing up.

01-04-2015, 05:14 AM
...super work, esp like the conkers, the asparagus, and the sweet forget-me-nots, brillo all :)

01-04-2015, 09:03 AM
Good observations about the natural world around you. The branch that you drew was exceptional. Are you still using the zeta?

01-27-2015, 08:54 PM
Wonderful job on those peppers in post 1 ... and the asparagus spears too ... mmm now I need to have a salad :)

03-04-2015, 12:23 PM

Oooh, been a while since I've done anything in my natural world sketchbook! But found the time over the last couple of evenings to do some pencil studies of a rabbit skull that I picked up while walking in the Yorkshire Dales last summer...

Yep pezk, still using the zeta (and loving it!)


Off to have a look at what everyone's been up to!

03-04-2015, 02:23 PM
Wonderful job on the skull sketches.

03-04-2015, 05:06 PM
Lovely sketches

Joan T
03-17-2015, 09:35 PM
Love your shading on the skulls!

09-19-2015, 09:29 AM
I really like your sketches and hope you will keep adding more.

09-19-2015, 01:25 PM
Lovely sketches! I really like the painted ones in particular, the colours are lovely. I've just started a nature journal myself, so I'll definitely follow your thread with interest!

10-07-2015, 09:37 AM
These are all beautifully done! Do you make curry with your peppers?

11-19-2015, 04:28 PM
Oooh, haven't posted in here for ages! Here's a small update on my natural world journal...


This first one is a cowslip. These were once common plants, covering whole meadows. No longer, sadly, as the meadows have pretty much gone, but they do still thrive on roadside verges.


And next up is a deceased water shrew, found by the volunteers doing pond-dipping at my local nature reserve. I've never seen one of these before so it was great being able to draw/paint it. It's currently residing in the garden under an upturned flowerpot, so I may yet get a tiny skull to draw...

And yes, Linda, to answer your question, I do make curries with the chilli peppers, and other delicious stuff too!

11-19-2015, 04:51 PM
It's great to see you back, Wagtail!

11-20-2015, 05:02 AM
Lovely sketches. It is good to see you back :)

11-20-2015, 05:21 PM
Lovely cowslips. Hope you get your tiny skull to draw. If it's not disturbed, you could get an entire tiny skeleton.

Joan T
12-05-2015, 05:49 PM
Great to see you back. Nice sketches!

02-28-2016, 07:51 AM
Well, the cat brought me a non-too-delightful present in the form of a field vole, so I took the opportunity to do a few pencil/watercolour studies.


02-28-2016, 04:43 PM
See, the cat is your muse. Brings you things to draw. :cat: Great sketches.

Joan T
02-28-2016, 08:59 PM
Poor little mouse...nice sketches!

02-28-2016, 09:48 PM
I would NEVER have thought to sketch your cat's offerings! Nice job.

02-28-2016, 10:33 PM
I had a cat once who liked to serve me breakfast. Unfortunately I was not into drawing at the time so the cat and the breakfast just got tossed outside.

I love your sketches.

Vivien Maloney
02-29-2016, 01:07 AM
Love your nature sketches! Looking forward to seeing more. :thumbsup:

Minerva C
02-29-2016, 11:33 AM
I had a cat once who liked to serve me breakfast. Unfortunately I was not into drawing at the time so the cat and the breakfast just got tossed outside.

I love your sketches.

Cats must be confused by human behaviour. Kindly offering breakfast and the human tosses you out...

02-29-2016, 12:08 PM
Wonderfully executed sketches - very impressive!

chammi kaiser
04-29-2016, 05:40 AM
Sharon, I have enjoyed every one of your sketchbook pages. Wonderful.

04-29-2016, 10:17 AM
oh the mouse and water vole are lovely sketches!

Munin Raven
05-01-2016, 10:11 AM
The water shrew and field vole studies are lovely. I look forward to more.

05-04-2016, 09:04 AM
How beautiful!