On a sunny winter’s weekend I attended two nature journaling workshops in Brisbane to find out what it’s all about and how it’s done in a group setting. On the Saturday morning I met with Paula Peters from Paperbark Writer for a beginner’s nature journaling workshop. Sunday afternoon’s offering was a workshop with the Brisbane Nature Journaling Club, led by Bethan Burton. Both led me to a calm and contemplative state of connection with nature while drawing, colouring, or scribing some words in my art diary. This is definitely something I want to do regularly and offer alongside Forest Therapy walks!

Interestingly, a big element of nature journaling is addressing anxiety. It seems that many people seize up when it comes to drawing or writing something because of the internal critic pressuring them to ‘put a pencil to paper and draw the Mona Lisa’, as Paula remarked. Since I draw to release creativity and feel the flow of colours, without an end outcome in mind, it seems that anxiety barrier isn’t as prevalent for me. However, I understand that many people can feel the pressure for ‘perfection’ and just scrap anything less that they create. So it’s important to remember that the process of nature journaling is about simply expressing what you notice from your unique viewpoint of the world – however that looks and feels for you – without reacting to the demands or comments of the inner critic.

Nature journaling is about simply expressing what you notice from your unique viewpoint of the world – however that looks and feels for you

This element of releasing control and allowing overlaps with the notion of my Forest Therapy Walks. That controlling, busy, impatient voice within us that sometimes helps with productivity needs to take a back seat when it comes to slowing down and cultivating calmness. Imagine if you were driving from A to B and out of total impatience you just jump out of the car halfway there! Well that’s what I imagine it’s like when people are nature journaling, or walking along with me, and they suddenly start criticising the quality of their drawing or state of mind. We can choose to gently acknowledge that busy voice, put it back in the backseat, get in the car again and continue driving along and enjoying the scenery, so to speak.

In the nature journaling workshops, it was fun to learn the wide variety of ways our viewpoints can be expressed. You may like to draw outlines, write descriptions, colour in, paint, record numerical observations, rhyme, express your inner feelings towards the nature around you, or something else completely. While all the possibilities may seem overwhelming, both the facilitators Paula and Bethan helped by giving some simple cues for our observation. As with the invitations I provide on my walks, the simple cues opened up the doorway to observation, connection with nature, and we had the media to turn that into creative expression.

The diversity of expressions from everyone in the group was one of my favourite parts. Sharing our creations of colour, words and drawings gave each other a window into our unique perspective of the time and place that we were in together. Nature journaling brought us into greater awareness and connection with the natural world and our inner world. Better yet, we were able to share that connection and calm in a group, adding the element of community. I see wonderful things happening for people’s calmness and connection to nature from nature journaling and I’m looking forward to seeing people engage with it and Forest Therapy in Brisbane.

Check out some of my creations in the photos below. Find out about upcoming Nature Journaling events in Brisbane on the Paperbark Writer events page and the Brisbane Nature Journaling Club Facebook Group or Meetup Group.