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Nurture, nature and beginning.

Why not be a beginner and join me 'nurture journaling nature'?


Whilst recently recording my ‘What to look for’ in May Patreon video and tutorial, I made the mistake of saying ‘Nurture Journal’ instead of ‘Nature Journal’.  A funny mistake that I brushed off.  

However the thought stayed with me over the following few days, and the more I thought about it, the more it felt like the right terminology for how and what I create.


The Oxford dictionary definition of ‘nurture’ is:


To ‘care for and protect (someone or something) while they are growing’


‘the action or process of nurturing someone or something’



Which got me thinking about the terminology and practice of ‘Nature journaling’.


Is ‘nature’ what I document, and ‘nurture’ how I document?  Am I ‘Nurture journaling nature’?


The term ‘nature’ is used separate from ourselves, nature is another entity apart from humankind.  


The Oxford dictionary definition of ‘nature’, points that out:


‘the phenomena of the physical world collectively, including plants, animals, the landscape, and other features and products of the earth, as opposed to humans or human creations


Nature is defined as everything but human.  Yet when I ‘nature journal’ I feel part of nature, not in it, or watching it.  I feel connected to the other beings around me, as if we understand each other.


At face value my ‘nature journal’ is a series of paintings documenting what I see over the year in my surroundings.



Yet there is so much more that goes on before, during and after.  Documenting what I see has encouraged me to nurture the place I live, to care about the place I live.  A place that I felt resentful of.



This began way before I put a pencil onto paper.  Noticing and pausing each year as ‘the daffodils appeared each Spring’, as ‘the leaves began to unfurl on the trees’, ‘hearing the first Blackbird sing’ a list of markers, place holders across the year.  Markers of time that I felt were missing in my life, these markers were the ones that spoke to me.



Beginning, noticing and taking time to pause began my journey to nurturing nature and myself. The journal became a way to honour and learn more about the plants, animals, birds and landscape around me.  Not as separate from me, but as part of me. As part of my story over the years.



I began by learning names, and facts.  Then deepened that knowledge further, going on wonderful rabbit holes learning more and more.   I have learnt how as humans we have connected to and used ‘nature’ to survive. In order to do that we had to feel part of nature, at one with it, not separate from it. We used to tell stories, passing on our knowledge and draw on cave walls, using pigments made from the land. We also tried, failed and learnt as we went along. I have also followed this tried and tested path, realising often that I have identified a species wrongly after putting paint onto paper.  Happy to be corrected by those that know more than myself. That is how we learn.


When I paint what I notice and learn about, I feel that connection again. I feel a connection with those in the past that would have seen these plants and animals differently to me.  I can see, smell, hear and remember how I felt when I noticed them.  I feel like I am honouring that lost connection, the journal is the end result of so much more than the picture on the page.  The act of drawing them helps to anchor the time, place and knowledge in my memory, and to tell its story.  My journals are my cave paintings.  I have also nurtured this side of my journaling, learning to use watercolour. I am self taught and took many hours of trying, failing and learning. Being humbled by a material that cannot be totally controlled.



I recently held a drop in drawing session at a local community garden open day. The session was an open invitation with no expectations. Drawing some of the metal objects that had been dug up in the process of digging a small triangular bed in the garden.  I was struck by how difficult it was to get adults to sit and draw.  Many of them immediately commented that they ‘couldn’t draw’, or ‘ haven’t picked up a pencil since school’!


Adults that were afraid of failure and judgement.  Adults that once gently encouraged spent on average 30 minutes sitting in the flow of making marks on paper.  Creating some beautiful images, but most importantly they all expressed how much they enjoyed the experience.  Enjoyed the pause, the peacefulness.  We forget as adults that we can’t be great at everything, sometimes we have to be a beginner.  We have to let go and enjoy the process without thinking about the end result. That’s the good part. To me being a beginner at something is so liberating, it gives you the freedom to mess up.  Yet so many people feel the opposite, and feel paralysed by that idea.


I still feel like a beginner most days, that’s what makes me keep going.  Learning something new sparks my creativity and fulfillment.


I am going to be a beginner in the month of May.  This month in my ‘What to look for’ in May tutorial one of our prompts is ‘Unfurling Ferns’.  I have only drawn Ferns a couple of times, and really don’t know a great deal about them.  I don’t expect to be able to make an amazing drawing straight away or have the knowledge of a ‘pteridologist’ (someone who studies Ferns).  But if I begin, I will know more than I do now.  I am excited to get to know Ferns, to spend time sketching them, and learning all about them.  I will be a beginner, trying and most likely failing, but learning as I go along.


Why not choose to be a beginner too?, and look at the world with new eyes. Be liberated to have a go, and sometimes get it wrong.   With practice and learning more than you did yesterday.  Nurture not only nature, but yourself.  Nurture your learning and your journaling process.


You can find my ‘What to look for’ in May tutorial on Patreon and also as a stand alone tutorial on my website.


Please share your thoughts on ‘nature journaling’, ‘nurture journaling’ and on being a beginner on here in the comments or over on my new forum.  A safe place to chat with like minded people.


Wishing everyone a wonderful May.

Angela


*the font in the images is my own writing in calligraphy, written with handmade shaggy ink cap ink - a process that I enjoyed failing at and learning from.





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Thank you so much for your reply Solveig. Your journey makes me so happy. Enjoying the process regardless of the outcome is really important, if you let go you will improve without realising, learn and have fun all at the same time. I would love to dive deeper and find out why so many people feel the same way. Being a beginner at something is the most humbling, yet exciting part of learning. Thank you, Angela

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Thank you so much, Angela xx

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Love this , Angela💚 All of it.

Nature journaling does feel incredibly nurturing to me too. I feel the connection, the love and the need to do more to nurture nature.


About being a beginner… I can get a bit impatient with myself, but something shifted in me earlier this year. I realised how much I enjoy learning about the wild beings I encounter on my walks, accepting that I don’t know much and wanting to learn more. Accepting that I am a beginner. And yet I was so critical of my art. Comparing myself to others and not accepting that I am a beginner at creating art too. Even to call what I create art 🫣 Something shifted in…



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