Nature Journaling


Journaling with Nature Episode 74: Karen Houlding — Chasing Butterflies

Karen is a nature enthusiast who uses creativity as a way to connect with the natural world. For Karen, nature journaling is a tool for both relaxation and learning. She is a lifelong learner who lets her curiosity guide her towards new discoveries in both nature and art.

Published Articles:

Nature Journaling for Relaxation, May 2021 issue of Plateau Neighbors.

Nature Journaling in the Fall & Winter, December 2021 issue of Plateau Neighbors.


What does nature journaling mean to you? on International Nature Journaling Week

Wildlife of Sammamish, the Sammamish Safari!

All About Nature Journaling

I have been surrounded by and interested in nature all my life; exploring lakes & rivers in Ontario, Canada, hiking mountain trails near Vancouver, BC and paddling the clear waters of Florida. At home in WA state, I thrive when hiking in the evergreen forests and camping on mountain lakes. I am especially interested in botanicals, but I’m also fascinated by the continuous parade of wildlife that passes by our property on the greenbelt!

What is nature journaling and why would you want to do this?

What is it? Nature journaling, to me, is being curious, observing and recording the details in nature, patterns, colors, measurements of both plants and animals. What it is not! No pressure to display as art; it is your personal journal for expressing what you have observed and learned!

Why journal in nature? Many people have asked, why can’t you just take a picture, then sketch at home? I have done that, but when you step outside and sketch in the field, you’ll notice the feelings of the experience as you listen to the birds, feel the breeze or the sun’s rays. It can be done in all seasons; you can even get weatherproof sketchbooks! It can be a mood shifter for redirecting anxious feelings and promotes relaxation which is good for your overall health, both physical and mental! It’s a journey of curiosity to learn about the plants and animals you are observing, stamping a memory, noting fun facts, measurements and color. There are some curiosity questions you can ask yourself that the expert nature journalist and Scientist John Muir Laws inspired, 1. I notice…, 2. I wonder…, 3. It reminds me of…

How I got started & what inspires me.

One of my passions for the past few years has been art journaling the messages from inspirational books that I read such as The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown and Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert . During the stay-at-home in 2020 I discovered YouTube tutorials by Let’s Make Art which taught me essential watercolor painting skills. The biggest influence on starting my nature journaling journey came in Nov. 2020 through the Journaling with Nature podcast based in Australia! From these interviews I learned about multiple nature journalists and many resources and workshops that have helped me learn. I joined a FaceBook group called The Nature Journal Club where members from all over the world share their journal pages and support and learn from each other. My combined love of nature and art crossed paths!

See my Journal Pages and hear the stories!

Resource list of supplies and websites for inspiration.

Basic Supplies:

  1. Sketchbook or paper:
    1. Strathmore Visual Journal watercolor or mixed media (spiral binding)
    2. Stillman and Birn Sketchbook (stitched binding)
    3. Rite in the Rain weatherproof journal
  2. Something to draw with
    1. Pencil
    2. watercolor pencil
    3. black ink marker (Micron 05 pen or thin sharpie)


  • messenger bag or backpack
  • ruler
  • binoculars
  • Watercolor pencils, watercolor paints & brushes (#6 & #2), colored pencils

Resource Favorites that inspired me:

  1. Journaling with Nature Podcast – interviews with nature journaling enthusiasts from all over the world!
  2. John Muir Laws – start nature journaling, how-to draw, instructional videos, teacher resources, FB group
  3. The Nature Journal Club Facebook Group – worldwide members share journal pages and learn from each other
  4. Jean Mackay Drawn In Blog – workshops, book, blog
  5. International Journaling Week June 1-7, 2021: a series of live workshops and daily journaling prompts
  6. Wild Wonder Conference June 23-27, 2021: 5 full days, with a rich schedule of classes, panels, lectures, nature journaling challenges, social time, journal sharing, and an online auction.