I love to draw the twists and turns of Elephant Garlic, especially when the early morning sun creates shadows on the leaves. As I drew the image below, I slowly became aware of a racket from an upset crow in the neighbour’s yard. The peak of their house is just visible over the hedge and a heron perched patiently (for the second time that week), waiting to raid the pond below. No idea why the crow cared.
I enjoy experimenting with page layouts and sidebars in illustrated journals and find it more fun than filling page after page of a sketchbook with reference drawings. The many opportunities to play with page layouts makes each drawing a welcome design challenge.
Instead of only observing, and focusing on the successful rendering of a subject, an illustrated journal helps create a habit of paying attention to the present moment, smelling, tasting, feeling the warmth of the sun or the crispness of the autumn air and then recording your discoveries. Every community has its own unique nature habitats to source plants and animals to observe and sketch. I live on the west coast of Canada and have access to beaches full of limpets, mussels, chitin, crab and other shells and draw them repeatedly.
The act of being still and staring invites observation and curiosity. Taking short periods of time to examine and investigate objects, such as feathers, plants, animals or rocks, captures our attention and challenges us to inquire and to develop mind sets of being problem solvers. As you make space in your day to notice your surroundings, you remember to notice them again and opportunities to be grateful arise.