Any nature sketching enthusiasts out there?

What’s in your field sketching kit?
What’s your favorite subject matter?
Any books on field sketching you particularly like?
Post an image of a recent sketchbook page.


Here’s one of my sketchbook pages, drawn at Zoo Atlanta. Batagur borneoensis, the Painted Terrapin.


ok. i agree. Research Grade!


it’s oblique to the topic but i’ve posted some sketches here.
i used to do more of it, it’s fun.


Sort of but not quite.



I don’t take my sketchbook out with me live in a place it’s too wet and most are too quick to get a look at so camera saves me by capturing the moment I can work on later

These elephant’s were in a zoo don’t have these in the wild


I don’t do much plain sketching but I do paint in watercolors and soluble pastels (cretacolor!) while in the woods, at the ocean, a river, catskill summit, wherever, if I have enough energy to lug my supplies. Not much for strict representational art… I get close yet still heavily “interpreted.” My goal with the art is usually not to “document” but rather to remember the experience of something I see. Documentation type recording I mostly do with a camera (also do art with that too I supppose!).

I really like this Cathy Johnson book:
The art is so soothing and it’s a book I think useful at different skill levels both for watercolorists but also for anyone looking to document nature in the field with whatever medium.

I frequently use a mason jar of water and a small 80s-era make-up type organizer/caddy that’s basically a small version of a art supply top-opening portable case. I like aqua brushes with built in reservoirs for a slimmed-down kit. I carry high quality pencils, water color pencils, micron pens (must have for any application in my view), eraser, sharpener, straight edge, sponge, soluble oil pastel, and concentrated liquid water color or a tiny dry color case. I use a variety of things out of the recycling for palettes. I usually have weird texture tools too and a bamboo pen I scratch with.'I prefer small 5x7 watercolor blocks when in the field and of a heavier weight.

I like plants the most I’d say. Most of my art and field sketching/painting is of plants. I like to interpret Peterson bird drawings in my own way sometimes but not in the field.

Since I do sell my art I don’t want to create the impression of not following iNat guidelines on self-promotion but here’s a quick little American Oystercatcher piece that’s already homed and thus not for sale. Now I can’t remember if it was done in Cape May, NJ or Cape Cod, but it was one of those.


I know it’s not sketching, but I make moulds of sea creatures, cast them in glass and then use them in my art glass projects. I got into INat when I was trying to ID some shells I was collecting for this purpose.


What’s in your field sketching kit?

I keep things simple. Out in the field I usually just carry around a sketchpad and a no. 2 pencil.

What’s your favorite subject matter?

Living things, be it human animal, nonhuman animal, plant, or microbe.

Any books on field sketching you particularly like?

Not aware of any, but maybe I should look into that…

Post an image of a recent sketchbook page.

(Unfortunately not based on live models.)
The elephant is still a work in progress. Its posture is loosely based on this observation.


For my supplies, I try to go as light as possible. Sketchbook, watercolor field kit, water bottle, 1/2 cut water bottle for a water well, a few brushes, pencil, and a micron pen.
I love sketching anything in nature, either landscapes, wildlife, or up close botanical. As many of you know, sketching releases stress and it’s fun to get away from society and hang out in the woods! When I’m busy and cannot hike or sketch for weeks at a time, it really gets to me.

Happy hiking and sketching everyone!


I’ve never painted observations, but I can share some tips! I shared some here too before getting pointed over here:

  • There are watercolor pencils. Think colored pencils, but they bleed if water gets on them.
  • When you get into the arena of student and artist grade paint, the pigment they use determines everything from the price, the lightfastness (ie how resistant to light damage it is), tinting strength (does it stain the paper when you try to lift the paint up), and how much you probably need to use before it overpowers the color you’re trying to make.
  • There’s markers! Not really as useful in terms of lugging around, but there’s a lot of neat alcohol-based brands.
  • The heavier the weight of the paper, the more it can withstand buckling. 72lb is the bare minimum. There are options to get around this, like stretching it ahead of time (, watercolor board, or watercolor block sketchpads.

Yes! Excellent :)

I like drawing from photographs I have already taken (and uploaded to iNaturalist). I’m really into flies at the moment


Yea! Diptera! Welcome to the forum @feralbeetle!

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You guessed it - my favorite subject is probably fungi, followed by plants. For the field I like 2 or 3 graphite pencils (HB, 3B or 4B), a couple of Pigma Micron or similar pens, and a spiral bound sketchbook (about 3.5x5 in. to 8.5x11 in.). The waterbrush, with water reservoir in the handle, is the greatest thing since sliced bread. With one of those and my tiny watercolor set (that I made with half pans and a little box about 2x2.5 in.), I can add some color. Better include a piece of paper towel for cleaning the brush. Also a kneaded rubber eraser. With the smaller sketchbook, it all fits in my pocket - though I’m more likely to put it in the bag that holds camera, vials, hand lens, forceps, etc.

For inspiration, I recommend having a look at the thousands of ink illustrations by E.T. Seton that fill his many books published 100-150 years ago.


Forgot to point out the spore print in my sketchbook above. It is protected from smearing by a little flap of glassine paper taped on one side. Alternatively, you could spray it with fixative, but I thought I might want to remove some spores for microscopic examination.


I would have an impossible time drawing that well, upside-down would make it magnitudes harder. :grin:


I was never into drawing or painting until a few years ago, when I inherited some art supplies, so I started playing around and found I liked it. It’s relaxing and helps me appreciate the natural world in new ways. John Muir Laws’ superb book, “The Laws Guide to Nature Drawing and Journaling” has been my primary guide. I don’t have the opportunity to do it in the field as much as I’d like, but usually use photos of mine and those posted by others via Creative Commons licensing as subject matter. I hope to eventually share my drawings online, maybe via the iNat project @charlie mentioned earlier. Here’s a recent watercolor pencil piece based on a photo by Hal Trachtenberg,


Wow, very nice. I haven’t been into sketching lately just because life has been very frantic (young kids, new baby) but when the older one gets a little older I’m totally taking her out sketching :)


I love sketching nature! What I’ll usually do is make a rough sketch of an animal while I’m observing it, then fill out the sketch/add details/add color once I get back home. Great thread!