Drawing Inspiration from Mother Nature with Emily Johnsen

Today I am really excited to introduce you to our guest poster Emily Johnsen. She is a total inspiration in so many ways, from her blog Age of Montessori to her wonder sparking enthusiastic approach to life!

So I’ll be quiet and let her inspire you with her words, ideas, and photos!! Take it away Emily!! 

Drawing Inspiration from Mother Nature:

Guest post by  Emily Johnsen

I have always loved nature.

I have always loved learning.

And, I have always loved to draw and sketch.

So why has it never occurred to me to keep a nature journal? Your guess is as good as mine. It might have something to do with time, or a lack there of. Or maybe I can blame it on an overabundance of screen-time. Whatever the reason, it took Kelly Johnson of Wings, Worms, and Wonder to come to the rescue.

Kelly is on a mission to help people connect (or reconnect) with nature through creativity, gardening, and outdoor learning. Through her website, learning materials, and even a recent (and especially inspiring) blog hop, I was motivated to grab my pencil, dash outside, and get drawing!

As it is Autumn, my absolute favorite time of the year, I started with a very welcomed outdoor stroll. Along the way, I collected some of Mother Nature’s seasonal goodies. I found: Yellow things…


Look closely. Yes, that is a live butterfly in the photo; it just came along for the ride. After letting it hang out for a few hours, I sent it back outside.

Berry-like things…


Leafy things…


And a few different types of acorns…


Gorgeous, Ms. Nature! Thank you so much!

The next thing I did was to collect a few art supplies…


* My trusty 4B and HB drawing pencils

* A box of chalk pastels.

I love pastels because they are so blendable and forgiving. Some people don’t like that they are so dusty, messy, and smudgy, but that is part of the appeal for me. To keep art journaling on your “enjoyable” list, it is important to choose what you are comfortable with. If you are not sure what works for you, experiment with different media. Kelly has several tutorials on her site such as these two videos on watercolor techniques or this blog hop tutorial by Yuko Miki using coloring brush pens (which look really cool, by the way!)

* Some beautifully colored and textured pastel paper

* A kneadable or gummi eraser

* And an eraser/smudger stick

There’s no time like the present, so I jumped right in. First, I sketched the general shape of a mesquite pod. I used a soft leaded pencil and a light touch…


Next, I re-drew the shape with the background color of the bean…


Then I layered color on top. A bit of pink…


A bit of purple…




And black…


I blended the colors with the eraser stick. (Note: it is probably better to use a paper blending tool, which you can find at any art supply store. I just have this thing for “drawing” with erasers, go figure!)


Here comes the (slightly) academic part. But don’t forget, this is your Nature Journal! Stick with what is interesting and fun to you. Find out a little bit about your subjects, and make note of the things that catch your attention…


Group them by color, theme, type, or whatever tickles your fancy.


Do you know what a drupe is? I didn’t, but I do now!


Here is a different style altogether.

For this, I was inspired by Wings, Worms, and Wonder’s blog hop over to Honeyberry Studios with Yuko Miki. In her blog tutorial, Yuko creates stylized “doodles” of leaves with simple lines and bold bright colors. The results are beautiful frame-worthy doodle masterpieces!

So here is my attempt at a leaf doodle, still with my chalk pastels…


Hmmm, perhaps this would make a nice cover for my Nature Art Journal. I have got to say, nature journaling is a highly enjoyable, creative way to connect with and rediscover nature. It is also a great excuse to put down those phones and other various screened-things and get outside enjoying the fine (usually) fall weather. This is also a really, really excellent activity to introduce to children. As Kelly said:

Drawing, collaging, and writing as a nature journaling practice teaches children the value of connecting with nature in both the backyard and beyond. It also increases observation skills and focus, improves pattern recognition, and strengthens the Naturalist Intelligence (of Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences). All of which help children become more ecologically literate and empathetic to the environment, with the anticipated result of future adults who care about protecting the Earth’s biodiveristy.

Wow, I couldn’t have said it better myself! And, speaking of great quotes, here is another spot-on quote by the brilliant Dr. Maria Montessori:

Let the children free; encourage them; let them run outside when it is raining; let them remove their shoes when they find a puddle of water; and, when the grass of the meadows is damp with dew, let them run on it and trample it with their bare feet; let them rest peacefully when a tree invites them to sleep beneath its shade; let them shout and laugh when the sun wakes them in the morning.

unnamed-11Emily Johnsen is a writing, blogging, nature loving, mother of two, from beautiful Big Sky, Montana. She is also a huge fan of all-things-Montessori. Emily blogs for Age of Montessori, an online educational resource for parents and teachers.

Check it out at

What inspires you to get creative with nature? Certain materials or supplies? Experiences you read about or have personally?

Share your thoughts in the comments below

Seeds to Sprout:

***Registration for the Draw Yourself Back to Nature eCourse is open through Saturday! Click here to register! ***

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Learn more about Draw Yourself Back to Nature here!

And the winner of the #5dayjournalchallenge is: IG handle @skyefootprint!! Congratulations!! Email me to claim your set of Nature Journal Prompt Cards!

Creatively connect with nature through journaling! Click to learn more https://www.wingswormsandwonder.com/draw-back-nature-info/

About the author 

Kelly Johnson's passion is helping enthusiastic gardeners & journalers like you grow nature inspired art journal routines & gardens one seed at a time.
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