by Jill Novak
I was asked what supplies we use for nature journaling (I’m glad you asked!). Below is our basic supply list. I also have a workshop entitled Becoming God’s Naturalist which explores creative and practical ways to get the most out of nature study and nature journaling. It is available in a two CD set along with The Gift of Family Writing. You can find these resources in our bookstore:
Our Basic Supply List for Nature Journaling
Paper – For finished drawings we use individual pieces of 110 lb. cover stock fastened to clip boards (available at Wal-Mart). The completed drawing or painting is stored in a binder inside plastic sleeves. That way the children don’t have to worry about ruining previous drawings.
Sketchbooks – My children love having their own sketchbooks. Right now they’re crazy about large formats. Buy a couple of different sizes. You can never have enough sketchbooks! Just about any brand of sketchbook will do. Look for Beinfang or Cannon.
Watercolor paper – You don’t have to buy watercolor paper for beginners, but if you do, try a watercolor block. The paper is already stretched so you don’t have to worry about it buckling. I like to work on Strathmore Watercolor paper cold press. It is available in different sizes (the 9 x12 is nice). We also paint on 110 lb. cover stock. It holds up pretty well as long as your brush isn’t excessively wet.
Pencils – Our favorite all-purpose pencil is Faber Castle. You can find them in most art stores. Buy soft art pencils B, 2B, 4B, 6B and aqua or water soluble art pencils. Let the kids experiment with the different textures. They’ll tell you which ones they like the best.
Artist pens – by Faber Castell. These pens are great for noodeling, doodeling, and sketching. My kids love these pens and told me to put them on the list.
Watercolor pencils – Derwent available at Michael’s, Hobby Lobby or Ebay.
Erasers – We use plastic erasers by Staedtler which are available from Wal-Mart in packages of three. Plastic erasers remove pencil marks without hurting the paper. Kneaded erasers work well for picking up tone.
Paints – I like Prang 12 count paints for children (little kids can use Crayola). They offer a wide palette to mix from and are relatively inexpensive. I also purchased a set of Grumbacher watercolors for myself. These are not necessary if you are just starting out, but you can get them on sale at Michaels for $2.00 a tube. Some children, like my Elizabeth – now age 15, loves tube paints.
Try not to let age be a limiting factor when it comes to art supplies (my mother let me paint with oils when I was 10).
Brushes – Purchase fine quality brushes of different widths and shapes for watercolor. Inferior brushes will ruin your efforts to control the paint. If you’re watching your budget, purchase a couple of sets of packaged brushes from Wal-Mart or Hobby Lobby. They may have to be replaced periodically but they are much better than the brushes that come in paint boxes.
Just as every child can write from what he knows, every child can draw from what he sees. Children who rarely pick up a pencil on their own can learn to express themselves creatively if they are exposed to the right environment – one that’s filled with the beauty of God’s Creation, the work of inspired artists, and the tools of the trade.