By Laura Fraile Moreno
The naturalist journal is a notebook based on the observations of nature. It includes both illustrations and notes written by hand. This practice improves the observation and writing skills and helps to learn and understand many of the species that surround us.
A naturalist journal does not have to be extremely detailed; it is difficult to reach certain levels of detail when you rapidly draw, for example, a bird in the nature. However, you can always fill in the missing information searching for bibliography and images – such as photographs and other illustrations – later.
After taking the field notes, once in the studio, you can clean the illustrations in a definitive notebook in order to be able to get a better approximation to reality using bibliographic references. In addition, this completes the information you have obtained from natural observation with general information about the species, such as distribution, reproductive behavior or feeding.
It is true that it will not be strictlly a field notebook, but you can preserve the aesthetics of natural sketches, improving the detail level and the information quantity/quality . In addition, it is a good exercise if you want to study a species to know it perfectly before illustrating it definitively.
The most comfortable tools to work at the time of going out to take notes in the nature are graphite – for example, a mechanical pencil -, and some watercolor pencils to give some touches of color. In some cases, you can even take a watercolors small box, although this can be uncomfortable when you have to carry a glass of water with you. Another possibility is to carry ink pens to make quick sketches or more defined details.
At the time of moving to clean, however, there is total freedom of materials. In my case I prefer watercolors and a fountain pen to draw the maps and write the text.