Marilyn French-St. George: Introduction to Nature Journaling
Introduction to Nature Journaling
Introduction to Nature Journaling is an 18 hour course spread over a number of weeks. Each class period of 3 hours in duration includes:
guided discussion of homework assignments and reinforcement of learning objectives through students’ work,
Introduction of key attention focussing strategies supported by videos and classroom exercises,
field observations where we explore the key learning objectives within the context of the Santa Cruz River.
My teaching approach is guided by the belief that we can all learn from each other. I encourage participants to talk about their approaches, difficulties and successes experienced during the week exploring the various attention developing techniques introduced in class. The success of the class depends on participation and sharing.
At the completion of the course participants will have explored a variety of ways to focus attention, explore and document the wonders of our natural world.
Specifically, participants will be able to describe, create and use:
* the three verbal cues to hone attention (I notice, I wonder and It reminds me of),
* Metadata to support journal pages
* blind contour drawing to develop new neural connections between eye and hand so that the hand follows what the eye sees,
* zoom in and zoom out strategies to explore the intricacies of life,
aerial mapping supplemented by info from Google Earth to describe locations,
* cross sectional mapping and cube landscape drawing to focus on the details of the land structures around us,
* Species identification tools such as Seek and Merlin,
* phenology charts to visualize natural changes over time,
stem and leaf data diagrams to describe group behaviours in our natural world,
* direct measurement and proportional measurement to scale objects,
* personal iconographies for plants and animals.
In summary, by the end of the course, participants will have acquired an understanding of a variety of attention developing tools to aid in the creation of memorable story telling pages through the combination of images, narratives, numbers and poetry. These pages will open doors to further inquiry as we become both more curious about and advocates for the natural world we share.
Skill Level Required
About Marilyn French-St. George
Despite having enjoyed drawing and playing with mud since an early age, I came to think of myself as an artist fairly late on in life.
My prior professional careers opened my eyes to a variety of human conditions that have informed my artistic directions. Working as a clinical and research audiologist (UK, Canada and USA) helped me understand ways in which not understanding becomes isolating and how technology has limits. In mid-career I moved into the high tech world of telecommunications (Canada) and started to understand how human ingenuity exceeds our capability to mitigate unforeseen consequences. In my later career as an accident investigator with the Transportation Safety Board of Canada I learned how quickly we trade resiliency for efficiency.
In 2001 the technology bubble implosion resulted in my being laid off. It was a time of soul searching that resulted in my husband and I starting a custom glass studio in Canada. I transitioned from working in glass to working in wood in 2014 when we moved to Green Valley. I added sketching and painting to my tool kit in 2017 and my sketchbook became my travel buddy after my husband died.
My sculptures and paintings document my exploration, inquiry and understanding into the issues and challenges we face being apart from, but not a part of the natural world. They are motivated by a passion to tell stories. Our contemporary interaction with the natural world challenges the resiliency of both humanity and all other life. Here in the desert we see first hand how the natural world’s ability to adapt to our presence is tested. Humanity’s false hope that the natural world can adapt around us is an endless source of creative story telling.
It was my good fortune to attend my first nature journaling course last fall at the Nature Center in Tubac. Marilyn French St. George was the instructor of the course. Having no introduction to nature journaling prior to this course, I was excited to learn a new creative and contemplative outlet. Marilyn’s approach was exactly what I needed to feel comfortable in this new realm. The class size was small allowing Marilyn the opportunity to interact with each person in a relaxed and encouraging manner. She was warm, responsive to questions, and she offered critiques of our work that provided useful information, while also teaching us all to refine our skills. Her follow up with us from one week to the next provided lots of opportunities to revisit what we learned and then to move beyond it to new ideas and techniques. I am looking forward to furthering my skills in nature journaling with Marilyn’s guidance.
I am writing this on behalf of Marilyn French-St. George who taught a Nature Journaling class for the Tubac Nature Center in fall, 2021.
I loved the class. Marilyn is an effective and inspiring teacher. She came well-prepared for each class and shared her own extensive experience with nature journaling during each lesson.
She designed each lesson to include plenty of time for us to share our work, our successes, and our concerns. As she led the discussion about student work, she found ways to highlight effective or noteworthy ways each of us tackled the various homework challenges. Sometimes this came as a surprise – she found something positive to highlight even in work the student herself didn’t much appreciate.
I enrolled with a good background in science and nature but a fear of drawing. I had never had any training in art, knew I was hopeless at trying to draw a picture, and was initially a bit horrified at the idea of showing any of my work to others. Marilyn’s kind and helpful attitude and her gently encouraging response to my efforts was exactly what was needed. Over the weeks, I gained courage, began to feel freer to experiment, and I actually began to enjoy the challenge.
I will always be grateful to Marilyn. She is one of the most naturally gifted teachers I’ve ever had. She created a classroom that allowed us all to grow and develop our skills with nature journaling beyond what we initially thought possible
I took a 6 week class in Nature Journaling from Marilyn. She was very well prepared including visuals. She was an excellent speaker and always encouraged class participation. I am taking another course from her in March and recommend her highly without reservation. She is an excellent teacher.
4 Calle Iglesias, Tubac, AZ 85646
PO Box 5112, Tubac, AZ 85646