Design Immersion: The Artful Map 2013
Tiaras and Bow Ties: Lettering for Theme Namebadges

Tranquility Recorded: Nature Journaling at Padilla Bay


After arriving at the Bay, I took a walk through the uplands of the Reserve to design specific journaling exercises for the following day.

Nothing is rich but the inexhaustible wealth of nature. She shows us only surfaces, but she is a million fathoms deep.

This quote is especially appropriate for the tranquil location of the National Estuarine Research Reserve, of my July 13-14 workshop in quiet Bay View, Washington. 16 students and I gathered there to spend two days recording on journal pages some of the natural features surrounding us. Perfect summer weather, a fine classroom facility, earnest learners and plenty of delicious food (the Skagit Valley, where the Reserve is located, is Berry Central right now) combined to make a successful weekend.


Creating a beautiful pattern of inklines across the page, these drawings by Jude Middleton are good examples of contour drawings. Color added only to the hips, with a final spatter of watercolor overall, add richness. Journal notes finish the job; this is a perfect nature journal page!

Saturday's warm-up exercises began with a page of drawings. Blind contour drawings of the hips of Rosa rugosa (collected from a mound of them on the property) were followed by left-handed drawings of the same on the same page. Following these, the students then moved right onto fine watercolor paper with a detailed drawing of a rose hip and its clusters of leaves.



Brooke Randall's delicate pen work is enhanced by her way of applying watercolor. Using a variety of greens and yellow in foliage makes it come alive on the page. Journal pages are 6"x10" of Fabriano Artistico cold press watercolor paper.
Elle Romick's composition shows the landscape where the mound of Rosa rugosa lives. Careful placement on the page allows each design element to have significance and to enhance the others. Above the rose hip page is Jude's collage. Many of the students made these to decorate the cover of their finished journals.

After a brief lunch break, the group walked up the path to a point where we were allowed a landscape overview that included the mound of roses from which came our specimens. The rest of the day was spent developing both the hip painting and the small landscape study that joined it on the page. Lettering skills were practiced, too, with emphasis placed on overall page design.

On Sunday, the assignment for the day's work was given early on: five specific journal items were to be added to the journal on one or two pages. The examples below show the variety of choices: something from the aquarium, a detail drawing of a chosen specimen, a decorated versal letter, a small landscape, and a small map. But prior to starting our artwork for the day, most of us moved through the plentiful array of breakfast foods (shouldn't all serious work days begin with such a repast?) arranged on the buffet table:


Berries, nuts, home-baked items and deviled eggs courtesy of Anne's hens were among the generous spread.
Claire Russell selected beach specimens for her detail studies. Adding shadows consistently to each item enhances this collection.




Mary Heath rose to the challenge of designing a map that tells the story of our unique location. On the left side of the page is a view of the Bay overlook, and the eel grass rendering above the map creates the ideal top border for the map while honoring this important Padilla Bay aquatic plant.


Mary Siple also created a map of the Reserve and Bay, opting to feature a rockfish from the aquarium in the outstanding Brazeale Interpretive Center.


Mary's lugubrious rockfish becomes the humorous fellow featured in the fenestration on the cover of her journal. We all laughed!
Brenda Boardman's lively watercolor landscape was ideal for framing with a fenestration on her cover. Students chose between four colors of paper for their journal covers.


Kay Reinhardt rendered Barn Swallows in flight as a nod to the nesting swallows in the outdoor corridor of the Center.
Anne Middleton's delicate watercolor and fine ink lines are used here to depict studies of native plants. L to R: Salal, Elderberry, and Red Alder.


Our group used viewfinders to help isolate a section of the landscape that featured the distant mound of Rosa rugosa.

To all who participated in this weekend of learning, sharing, and the expanding of perception, I thank you for the chance to spend two days together and I applaud the excellent work you did. Continue to practice, practice. Special thanks go to the Padilla Bay Foundation administrator Kay Reinhardt. Thank you Libby, Anne, Mary, Nancy and Marilyn for your positive support and help in set-up, take-down, and seeing that all of our needs were met.


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