Nature Drawing and Journaling in the Field

RGV BioU Mark

Instructors: Nona Estrin and Adelaide Tyrol
June 8 – 9 | $295


articipants will focus on applying a variety of methods, materials, and techniques to produce field illustrations, sketches, and journals. The site itself, including its fields, forests, wetlands and river, will be the foundation of this course. Artists of all levels, including beginners, are welcome in this workshop. Basic familiarity with the environment or the art of observing is necessary. Participants will share results and observations as they build skills and develop familiarity with the site.

Objectives and Goals

  • Develop your drawing as a way of learning about the natural world.
  • Instruction in how to enhance your observational skills in the field.
  • Learn simple techniques to improve your visual memory and help you draw what you see.
  • Learn how to use pencil, pen and watercolor for fast field sketches.
  • Practice drawing objects seen through binoculars and through the microscope.

About the Instructors

  • Nona Estrin is a conservationist, self-taught artist and naturalist and grandmother of 5. She has long used watercolor journals to record her observations. A year of her field notes and sketches are available in the award winning book, In Season, A Natural History of the New England Year, published with her husband, Charles Johnson.  She has shared her method of keeping a watercolor field journal through courses and workshops, in locations as diverse as the Wooden Boat School in Maine and the Strawberry Plains Audubon Center in Mississippi. She makes her home in East Montpelier Vermont, where she is the founder of East Montpelier Trails.
  • Adelaide Murphy Tyrol works out of her studios in Plainfield, Vermont and New York City.  She studied at the Art Student’s League, Parson’s School of Design and received her MFA from the Art Institute of Boston. Along with her gallery work, Adelaide is a natural history illustrator and works with the Wellborn Ecology Fund and Biodiversity Research Institute.   She also co-owns a scenic painting house in NYC which serves the photography and film industries.

Lodging Options

Biodiversity University is no longer offering lodging for participants. However, there are several nearby options at a similar price point. We recommend the following options:


Saturday breakfast, field lunch, and family-style dinner included.
Sunday breakfast and field lunch included.

Required Materials and Recommended Reading

In Season - Nona Estrin and Charles Johnson

A Trail Through the Leaves- Hannah Hinchman

Keeping a Nature Journal - Claire Walker Leslie

How to Keep a Naturalist’s Notebook - Susan Leigh Tomlinson


Course begins 8 AM on June 8 at North Branch Nature Center. Course concludes at 5 PM on June 9 at North Branch Nature Center. Any participants arriving Friday evening will be met by a staff member for an orientation and welcome.

Academic Credit / Professional Development options:

This course qualifies for 1 graduate-level science credit for an additional $150 course fee. All BioU courses are accredited by Castleton University. It is each student’s responsibility to ensure that their home institution will transfer the credit. Participants pursuing academic credit will be required to complete an additional assignment above and beyond the course hours, including literature review, reflective writing, and/or a field-based project.

This course qualifies for 22 hours of professional development hours and continuing education units. Certificates of completion are included in the course fee, and are available upon request.

Suggested Supplies

The Drawing Board in Montpelier offers a 10% discount for class supplies and carries many of these items. Participants who presently keep a field journal, bring what you already use.
  • Field Watercolor Sketch palette such as Cottman
  • Variety of brushes
  • Multi-Media sketchbook (takes watercolor or dry sketch) Aquabee or Canson xl
  • Drawing pens and pencils of your choice
  • Eraser / ruler
  • Small container for water
  • paper towels for outdoors, rag or small sponge for indoors
  • Binoculars
  • Hand Lens
  • Clothes for sun or rain
  • Sunscreen
  • Tick protective clothing (ExOfficio, LLBean, InsectShield or other) or bug repellent
  • Compact folding umbrella
  • Water for drinking
  • Something to sit on if desired, camp stool, pad or tarp.
  • Good walking shoes, possibly boots if weather is wet.
  • If sitting on ground is your habit, bring a bandana for brushes, etc.
  • A pack to put it all in.
North Branch Nature Center

713 Elm Street
Montpelier, Vermont 05602
(802) 229-6206

Hours: Center Open Monday-Friday 9-4
Trails Open 24/7