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Looking With Your Arms Open, March 31, 2010

How to Keep a Naturalist's Notebook
Are you a backyard birdwatcher curious about the lives and habits of your feathered friends? A hiker who wonders about the world you ramble through? An artist or writer seeking to learn more about nature?If you answered yes to any of those questions, Susan Leigh Tomlinson's book is for you. This thoughtful and elegantly written guide shows you to how to dip beneath the surface of the natural world through keeping an illustrated field journal. We journal about our lives, why not journal about the other species around us as well? Observing and noting nature is a way of getting to know that wider, wilder community, and through it, deepening our understanding of our own species. It's a way of honoring the living world, as Mary Oliver writes in these lines from Where Does the Temple End; Where Does It Begin, which Tomlinson uses as an epigraph in the book: I look; morning to night I am never done with looking. Looking I mean not just standing around, but...

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The book contains very straightforward help on getting started keeping a nature journal. In the book you will find ideas on what equipment you should have for nature observing and journaling (using common sense), types of notebooks, how to set up a notebook, and making your pages attractive and informative with simple ideas.It also contains very useful info on field sketching, and has simple practices to help you prepare to get outdoors and sketch animals that may move or disappear quickly. The author give you tips on what information you might like to record, how to use field guides, and what details about a subject you may need in your notes to later identify it.This is an excellent book aimed at college aged people and above. Although I enjoyed Clare Walker Leslie's "Keeping A Nature Journal", I found Susan Leigh Tomlinson's "How To Keep A Naturalist's Notebook" more concise, to the point, but much more helpful to me. The difference may be that Leslie takes...
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Are you a backyard birdwatcher curious about the lives and habits of your feathered friends? A hiker who wonders about the world you ramble through? An artist or writer seeking to learn more about nature?If you answered yes to any of those questions, Susan Leigh Tomlinson's book is for you. This thoughtful and elegantly written guide shows you to how to dip beneath the surface of the natural world through keeping an illustrated field journal. We journal about our lives, why not journal about the other species around us as well? Observing and noting nature is a way of getting to know that wider, wilder community, and through it, deepening our understanding of our own species. It's a way of honoring the living world, as Mary Oliver writes in these lines from Where Does the Temple End; Where Does It Begin, which Tomlinson uses as an epigraph in the book: I look; morning to night I am never done with looking. Looking I mean not just standing around, but...
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NB This review was first published by me on Amazon.co.uk...I wish I'd had a copy of this book a few years back when I started my Designing with Plants course with KLC. The course requires quite a bit of drawing, particularly for the 50 plant profiles element, showing how each chosen plant plus 3 selected companions fit together. I bought a couple of botanical illustration books at the time as I haven't done much in the way of artwork since I was 14, but found them to be way above the level I needed and gave up the course soon after.Whilst Susan's book is aimed at nature journaling, the guidance within is equally suited to someone like me who wants to keep a visual diary of their garden, garden visits, wildflowers or whatever takes a gardener's fancy. We may take many photos to keep a visual diary, but there's something about sitting down with a notebook, a pencil and either paint or crayons (or even those wonderful watercolour crayons) which really helps you to...
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