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Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do you see?

September 8, 2022 @ 10:00 am 11:30 am PDT

I can bearly wait for Thursday! Let’s go sketch bears in the wild, no fences, just you and the bear…

Join John Muir Laws and natualist, journaler, explorer Sandy Mcdermott for a bear raising adventure. She will describe her adventures with Brown Bears in Alaska and we will draw them together as we learn about thier natural history.

Meet Sandy Mcdermott

I am a professional artist and naturalist with 30 years experience and training in multiple mediums, including pen & ink, water colors, graphite, and photography. My heart and soul are with field sketching and watercolors. Many professional opportunities have come my way for developing outreach, educational, and promotional material; sales of original works; commissioned original works; and collections of original works for publication.

My education was in four parts. I received a BA in Art with a minor in Biology from Salem State University in MA. This degree combined my scientific interests to feed the brain with fine art that fed my heart. The following year I completed the Scientific Illustration program at U.C. Santa Cruz, CA, which included an internship at Bryce Canyon National Park in UT. Here I expanded my art focus with my growing interest in natural history. As my career matured, my interests moved to avian biology and ornithology. Supporting this new pursuit, I completed the Birder’s Certificate Program from Massachusetts Audubon. With the maturation of my field sketching, art medium, and ornithological interests, I completed several years of private study in watercolor painting with two New England master artists established in wildlife art and landscape painting.

Presently, my work is focused in two areas. Foremost, I am immersed in field sketching and nature journaling the landscapes and birds in south central Alaska. Moving to Anchorage, AK in 2021 presented an opportunity to channel my art in a new and exhilarating part of the world. This immersion pulls in my passion for field sketching, watercolors, plant identification, field ornithology, and bird migrations. My new surroundings present complex, beautiful and engaging ecosystems ever present for my art. Second, though no less integral to my current focus, is teaching nature journaling to students of all ages and abilities. Central to my teaching method is ‘Purposeful Play’: nature journaling and capturing one’s surroundings in a playful manner that supports all skill levels and interests.

As an instructor, I have taught a range of workshops and courses in the basics of drawing, painting, observation, and meditation. The unifying connection among all artistic outlets is the observation of the natural world. I hold dearly the belief that observation leads to knowing; knowing leads to caring; caring leads to stewardship; stewardship leads to conservation.

Join John Muir Laws for weekly live nature Journaling workshops with tips, techniques, inspiration, teaching strategies, and interviews. Topics are usually announced in advance of the workshop. If special materials or class-specific downloads are available, you can find them here in the class description before the class. All ages and experience levels are welcome. No registration is necessary.

Suggested donation: $20. Your donation helps support me and my family. Your generosity is deeply appreciated and it makes an immediate difference in my ability to continue to offer these programs. Your donation is tax-deductible. Click here to donate. If you are not able to donate at this time, no problem–please continue to enjoy the classes and find another way to pay it forward in your community with acts of kindness and service. Thank you!

If you are new to Zoom or are having trouble with the meeting controls, please see these notes and suggestions on Zoom Tips for Online Classes with John Muir Laws to help you get more out of the online workshop. When possible I will also make a recording of the workshop and post it on my blog. I look forward to seeing you there!


  • Your Journal and favorite drawing materials. Taking notes while you watch and participate will help you remember the new techniques and incorporate them into your journaling.
  • A Brown Bear (if a full grown adult is difficult to fit into your studio, It will be OK to just bring a cub or two.
$20 Suggested Donation

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