How to Create your own Field Journal

Posted by Sarah Jane Humphrey on

Connecting with the Outdoors

Filling the pages of a sketchbook is a great way to appreciate the outdoors and truly admire the flourishing hedgerows. I gain great enjoyment from journaling the plants around me – making notes about the flowers or foliage, sometimes the environment where they grow or how they change at certain times of the year, alongside lots of drawings. This sense of enjoyment is something I like to encourage others to access too. 

Botanical Journals have been one of my most popular workshops, with some beautiful illustrations and observations being made over the years. My inspiration for them came from the wonderful mind-space and relaxation that comes from journalling, so this week I'd like to share with you how to create your own Field Journal. 

There are many different ways you can choose to approach this, so to give you a nice starting point, you could perhaps begin with this short task.


You will need:







1. Choose your sketchbook

Choose a nice sketchbook to work from, if you don’t have one to hand a sheet of paper will do.


2. Choose your subject 

Find a subject to draw. I have been taking lots of walks recently around the Cornish coastline where I live in Falmouth. I love this time of year when all the wild flowers are beginning to bloom and there is plenty around to take inspiration from. In this example, I chose to focus on a simple sprig of Yarrow, although really you can choose as many plants as you like to fill your pages.


Field Journal

3. Begin your observations

Start by making small observational drawings. Choose one part of the plant to start with, and don't forget to look at the tiny details. For example, a close up of a single flower or a seed capsule, noting as much extra information as you can. Create observations of various parts of the plant so that you get to know it better. This is a great way to record further details that could easily be overlooked from a drawing alone.


Drawing Yarrow


4. Bring your observations together

After making lots of smaller observations, you will be much more familiar with your subject. From here, you are in a better position to create a full illustration – in this case I have finished with a whole stem of the Yarrow

The final drawing brings together all aspects of the previous observations, so that no detail is overlooked. 


5. Add some colour 

If you would like to add more depth to your journal, you can always consider using watercolours. This will bring your journal to life, capturing the colour of your illustrations.


Field study of Yarrow


6. Optional additions

You could add a date or grid reference to your journal entries as a visual diary to refer back to in the future. Some people like to illustrate perpetual journals, perhaps recording plants growing in your garden or allotment as they go through different phases. You could also experiment with using different mediums. For example, you could use coloured pencils or different types of pens. 


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