The Bay Area Nature Journal Club

Come explore nature with your family, friends, and a community of artists and naturalists throughout the San Francisco Bay Area! Each month brings a new outing and workshop to help make the practice of nature journaling a part of your life. The field trips combine nature exploration, sketching demonstrations, a potluck lunch, and time to explore creating your own work. The technique workshops help you develop drawing skills to apply in the field. We also sponsor art exhibitions of club members work in local venues. Read more about us in Bay Nature!

The Bay Area Nature Journal Club is a diverse community of artists and naturalists, of all levels, who meet together to connect to nature through art. Through monthly field trips, hands-on technique workshops, and community events we explore the Bay Area, developing our artistic and naturalist skills and deepening our love of nature. We welcome the diverse communities of the region. The program is intergenerational and family-friendly. Youth, seniors, and elders are encouraged to participate. No experience necessary.

You can get notifications about group outing and activities by joining my mailing list and the Meetup group. I also encourage you to join the Club’s Facebook Group to share sketches, drawings, arrange carpools, and connect with the group community. Announcements and events are also be listed in the Facebook group.

Nature Journal Workshops and Field Trips in the San Francisco Bay Area

Covid 19 Update: All classes and live workshops are suspended while we as a community respond to contain the virus. When the epidemic is contained and controlled, we will return to our regular monthly schedule (shown below). For now, please check my event calendar for weekly online classes.

Join us each month for a 1.5 hour workshop that highlights new aspects of journal keeping such as drawing flowers, making quick landscape studies, sketching birds, noticing important scientific details, or nature poetry. These classes prepare you with drawing skills you can apply on the upcoming field trip. For instance, a field trip to Hawk Hill might be preceded by a workshop on drawing hawks in flight. The technique workshops are repeated in seven wheelchair accessible locations around the bay. Workshop highlights will be videotaped and posted to YouTube so you can watch them on my YouTube channel if you were not able to join one of the classes. Be sure to check my online calendar to verify that the workshop will be held at the usual location and time in any given month.

We also enjoy monthly fieldtrips on the last Sunday of each month from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM (unless otherwise noted in the schedule). Trip activities include technique demonstrations, natural history interpretation, time in the outdoors, a potluck lunch, and plenty of time to draw and write. Most field trips will include easy to moderate walking. If field trips are wheelchair accessible or may require more strenuous hiking, they will be described as such in that month’s program description. See the club’s schedule for details. If rain is forecasted for the day of the field trip, the trip may be canceled or relocated to an indoor venue. Check the program description Sunday morning before leaving for updates and changes.

No registration is required. Show up with your journal and supplies and get ready to explore and draw. View the full schedule of Journal Club events and mark your calendar.

Wild Wonder Nature Journaling Conference: Virtual for 2020!

The Wild Wonder Conference is a gathering of nature journalists from around the world. Our next Wild Wonder Nature Journaling Conference will be a virtual event, October 7-11, 2020. We plan to gather again in person for Wild Wonder in August 2021 in Monterey, CA. Learn more about Wild Wonder Nature Journaling Conference and see photos and posts from our fun gathering in 2019. Subscribe to John Muir Laws’ newsletter to get email updates.

Art Shows and Exhibitions of Group Work

Nature Journal Club members are invited to participate in periodic public shows of their work. These shows can help demonstrate individual improvement and the beauty and diversity of the San Francisco Bay Area. If you know a venue that would be appropriate to feature the work of our group, please contact me with details.

Expectations and what to bring

The Nature Journal Club is a supportive community. Participants are expected to treat each other with respect and create a safe place for people to push their boundaries, draw, and write without criticism or fear. Please do what you can to engender this feeling in the group. I encourage all participants to share their tricks and techniques with each other. It is fun to teach and to learn from one another. I encourage you to make journaling and participating in club events part of your regular routine. If you have not drawn in a long time, it can be scary to start again. Once you do, you will discover that this new skill develops quickly. Throw yourself into it and be fearless. You can do this. The most important thing is to get yourself to draw a lot. Club events and outings help but it is even better if you can get yourself to draw even more often. Leave your inner critic behind and go for it. If you feel comfortable doing so, bring your latest sketches or poems to share with others. Please also share your artwork, techniques, and ideas in the club’s Facebook group. We can all learn a lot from seeing the work of other artists and naturalists. Most importantly, have fun with it- this is a joyous experience.

Nature journaling and exploration are great activities for families and children. I encourage you to make journaling and participation in group activities a regular practice for your family. Workshops and demonstrations will be engaging and fun but targeted to adults. Mature children who have demonstrated an interest in nature sketching add a lot to the group. Please evaluate and monitor your children’s interest and energy to help them get the most from the experience and to ensure that their contribution enhances the experience for everyone. You may find it helpful to have a family discussion about behavior expectations and participation before an event. Just to be clear- kids are welcome!

You do not need a lot of expensive materials to get started. At the most basic level, a field journal and a pencil is all you need. If you want to go further, I have prepared a suggested equipment list. You do not need everything on this list. Keep your kit light and accessible.

Each field trip is also a potluck lunch. Bring a spoon, bowl, and something delicious to share. We often stray far from our vehicles so make sure you have everything packed and portable.

Donate to Support the Bay Area Nature Journal Club

Projects of the BANJC are supported by donations from members. Please become a sponsor and support our work. Tax-deductible donations for the Bay Area Nature Journal club can be made through my non-profit partner Heyday. Heyday is a 501(c)(3) foundation (Federal tax ID: 94-3268357) and your donation will be tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law. You can make an online donation with the memo “For the Nature Journal Club” in the dedication box. Alternatively, you may mail a check made out to “Heyday” with a memo “For the Nature Journal Club” to Heyday, P.O. Box 9145, Berkeley, CA 94709 USA. Thank you for your support.