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« Nature Journaling: Supplies »

The best part of any new project is gathering the supplies, right?

For kids:

1. Sketchbook. This is a great one. It has heavy paper so you can watercolor in it and the pages won't fall apart. But any sketchbook will do — you can even make your own.

I like a journal about 5 x 7", because you only need a small bag to carry it and your supplies, but the page is big enough to draw a whole scene as well as details.

Pay attention to how the journal is bound — spiral obviously allows you to work flat. If the binding is sewn it may also lay flat — you don't want a journal with a spine that won't open all the way and allow you to use the whole page.

2. Pencils + self-enclosed pencil sharpener + white eraser. Ideally you will have a few pencils of different hardness, e.g., . These are sold grouped together inexpensively at the art supply store. But again, ordinary pencils are fine, too.

3. Pencil case — hard or soft, as long as it protects everything in your bag from being covered with pencil marks and your pencil leads from breaking.

4. Watercolors + brush. Any old watercolor set will do! They usually come with a brush. I personally like Prang because they are very good quality, last a long time, and the colors are bright and clear. You can buy Prang watercolors at any department store; you don't need to go to the art supply store.

You can get a little fancier by buying a few extra watercolor brushes of different sizes. It’s nice to have at least one extra brush in case you lose yours. Again, you can buy a few brushes bundled together at the art supply store for a few dollars. (You can always find a more expensive version of every art supply, but don’t worry about that for this project!)

5. Water bottle. Again, any old empty water bottle or soda bottle will do. Fill it up about three-fourths of the way. Fancy: I like these water-bottle clips that fit over the neck of the bottle and allow you to clip them to your bag or belt loop. But you can also carry it inside your field bag.

6. Ziploc bag or small plastic case for holding treasures. Pinecones, leaves, and seed pods will take a beating if they're just thrown loose in your bag or stuffed in your pocket. Keep one ziploc bag (freezer type is best — they are heavy duty) and reuse for each trip.

7. Field bag to carry your supplies. If you want to do some extended walking or exploring before you draw and paint, it's nice to have your hands free. We make easy field bags out of recycled clothing!

Extras: A folded paper towel (for drying your brush or taking up paint), a white crayon (for resist work), a black or other color crayon (for rubbings; a soft pencil also works), and that's about it! Camping cups — the ones that telescope or lie flat — are nice for pouring water into (as bottles are generally tippy). I have a little collapsible canvas bucket that I use.

For grown-ups:

1. Your own kit (everything on the previous list). If you are working with a large group, it doesn’t hurt to bring an extra of everything.

You can carry an extra small bottle of water for the kid who inevitably dumps theirs, but don’t be tempted into carrying more water! It’s heavy and it will make you cranky and weigh you down.

Sunscreen, bug spray, wipes, bandaids, ziploc bag. (Wipes are great for the unexpected bird bomb or “ugh, what did I sit in?!” One ziploc bag can hold all your garbage. Reuse it if you love the Earth.)

2. Field guides for looking up interesting finds on the spot.

3. A roll of masking tape for when kids want to tape something in their journal.

4. A field bag or backpack to carry your supplies and keep your hands free.

With this kit, you’ll be all set.


This post first appeared at the Camp Creek Blog.

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Reader Comments (7)

Field bag...yes...I think that's where I came in. I must actually make it this time :-)

This seems like a good, not too tricky set of materials to gather. If they're always ready to go (in the bag!) it would be interesting and exciting to stop and use them, outside, to record what we're looking at.

Just need to find a decent, potable UK field guide.

January 3, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSam

great list and I'd add a camera too!

January 3, 2009 | Unregistered Commenternancy

sam, yes, make your bag & then show it to us! :^)

you are so right -- if the bag is ready to go when you are, you are so much more likely to have what you need, more likely to journal, and maybe even more likely to actually *go*. if you have to stop & gather things, maybe you run out of enthusiasm. ;^)

nancy, yes -- you are absolutely right! :^)

January 3, 2009 | Registered CommenterLori

Run out of enthusiasm? You've been to my house, haven't you? Lol. I promise I'll make the bag this time. I've already gathered enough old pairs of trousers to make about 8 bags, so I have no excuse :-)

Nancy - I always take the camera now, I feel lost without it! The problem is, we never print off the photos, so they stay trapped on the computer.

January 3, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSam

sam, lolol -- i tell you what, i’ve been “getting ready” to take the boys on an outing longer than the outing itself was supposed to last! ;^)

can’t wait to see your bags! i am thinking in need a new one for myself, and i want to make it with a really *wide* strap .. but i can’t bear to cut into my old khakis yet, even though they are on their absolutely (no pun intended) last leg!

lol re: never printing photos, too -- gah, i am the same. at least with our nature journals, though, i am apt to print them out in b&w to regular paper and glue them in -- it’s something!

January 3, 2009 | Registered CommenterLori

Great list, have bag, will explore!! Thanks for reposting this here Lori!

January 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMeredith

thank you, meredith! we’re going to have a field bag show-and-tell this week, so there will be more cool stuff to look at! :^)

January 10, 2009 | Registered CommenterLori

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