Nature Journaling

Nature Journaling: Learn the art of seeing and recording the world around you

Fee for students: $145 + Eventbrite fees

November 15–17, 2019 | Desert Laboratory on Tumamoc Hill

Instructor: Roseann Hanson

Guest instructor: Paul Mirocha

Register here:

Keeping a nature journal can both deepen your connections to the natural world and help you learn more about it. Neither science education nor art training is needed—you will develop the skills of a naturalist and a field sketch-artist along the way. 

“Your observations, questions, and reflections will enrich your experiences and develop gratitude, reverence, and the skills of a naturalist . . . If you train your mind to see deeply and with intentional curiosity . . . the world will open before you.”            - John Muir Laws, artist, naturalist, and author

In this class we will learn how to practice “intentional curiosity” as the core of nature journaling: to ask questions, to dig deeper, to focus our minds both intently and inten-tionally.  

Instructor Roseann Hanson, who has been keeping a nature journal for more than 30 years, will be your guide on the journey to becoming a naturalist, nature journalist, and artist. 

The class will include:

The nuts-and-bolts of journal-keeping (paper and ink types, archival systems, how to make entries that you can refer to later, laying out pages, prompts to jump-start ob-servations, and tips on researching science questions sparked by your observations).

Easy tips that enable anyone to get started sketching and painting. Roseann will help free you from your inner critic and start sketching and painting. Art in a nature journal is not only lovely to see, but an important component of your skillset because the very act of drawing and painting something from life involves incredibly intense ob-servation. Your brain is wholly occupied by only that thing you are observing and drawing—it is a kind of meditation that results in new insights, deeper understanding, and even reverence and gratitude.


Prior to the workshop: Roseann will recommend some simple supplies—you don’t need much, and if you would like to experiment with colors, she will supply some paints and pencils you can borrow throughout the course. 

Friday, November 15th, 5 - 7 pm

On Friday evening in the historic and inspiring 110-year-old library at the Desert Laboratory (where the field of ecology was born and the journal Ecology was launched), Roseann will introduce you to the addictive and gratifying world of nature journaling, explaining the concept of daily observations and recording, how to use the tools you have, and tips for improving your observing and recording skills. She will show that by “observing-questioning-reflecting” you will be truly seeing, not just looking. 

Saturday & Sunday, November 16th and 17th, 9 am - 3 pm

On Saturday and Sunday the class will put simple prompts and tips into practice by spending 1-2 hours journaling, then convening and discussing results, and repeating throughout the day. Tumamoc Artist-in-Residence Paul Mirocha will join us part of one day to help hone field sketching skills. Bring a lunch each day to enjoy in the Sonoran Plant garden courtyard.

By the end of class, you will come away with a new way of actually seeing the natural world before you and have new skills for recording what you see in meaningful and useful ways.

Components include: 

journal types and recording instruments; 

the art of observing; types of recording (writing, visual, numbers);

learn prompts to deepen observation (“I wonder,” “I see,” and “it reminds me of);

introducing sketching and color;

archiving and sharing work.


Roseann Hanson is a naturalist and explorer who has been keeping nature journals for more than 30 years. She studied journalism and ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Arizona, and has worked in the American Southwest, Mexico, and East Af-rica as a conservationist, naturalist, and writer.  She has authored a dozen natural histo-ry and outdoor books, including the Southern Arizona Nature Almanac and San Pedro River: A Discovery Guide, both of which include her nature journal data and art. Roseann is a lapidary, metalsmith, and watercolor artist, and currently is coordinator for the trans-disciplinary art & science program at the Desert Laboratory on Tumamoc Hill, part of the University of Arizona College of Science. She was named a Fellow of both the Explorers Club in the U.S. and the Royal Geographical Society in Great Britain for her conservation and expedition work.

Paul Mirocha has worked as a freelance illustrator and designer since the early 1990s specializing in science communications and has illustrated over 20 nonfiction picture books for children. He has also worked as a graphic designer, web and UX designer, photographer, and writer. Paul has been artist-in-residence on Tumamoc Hill since 2012, focused on site-based fine art work inspired by the history of science on the Hill.