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Nature Journaling @ Albany Bulb, Albany CA

After many months of shelter-in-place and stay-at-home-order sketching, the East Bay Sketchers were finally able to meet in person. We had 4 attend the Saturday session. After a brief meet-and-greet, we split up for some sketch time. Two of us re-convened at 2:30 to share work.

To be honest, it was awkward to be sketching again…how quickly practice becomes memory! The only remedy is to pull out the pencil and get to work.

The Albany Bulb is a fascinating place…filled with art and nature and humans with dogs. The day was warm, a little windy and active! I didn’t wander too far (see the learnings below as to why.)

Re-starting the sketching group is important and while I’m down for it…it’s also a little daunting. We need to keep each other safe while still connecting and appreciating being out in the world. More to learn on this topic as we continue to explore what a COVID-19 world becomes.

The sketches

Starting out with 1-minute sketches was a great way to warm up. Back at home, I added watercolor to bring them to life. The colors add to the memory of being at the Bulb.
This driftwood log was awash under the trees.
Playing with color! The strong light was licking the trees and making them look lusciously yummy.
The weather was beautiful and the mud flats were showing well. Hyper-saturated water in the sky wubbled the paper. Thanks to that central bird for getting me out of the funk and back into wonderfilled enchantment.


I learned that the inlet to the East of the Bulb is a wetlands formed by two creeks: Cordonices Creek and Marin Creek. Once I knew this I could see that the water flow from the creek outlets was different from the standing water. It was the flow paths that shape the mud flats. They are not random! 😉

I was surprised by how being at home and not out in the field has lowered my patience reserves. During the session I got hot. I got thirsty. I got tired. I got cranky. So I walked off my crank by heading back to the car, deep breathing, got out of the sun, had some water. Then I challenged myself to get curious about ONE THING. That one thing was a bird on the mud flats and then the wonder took over from there, resulting in the observational sketch of the mud flats, which was super fun to do and opened up new learnings. Now I’m eager to get out again.

Next time I’d like to get color on the page while in the field. Although I’ve accepted my practice of field-observation + studio-follow-up, I still think the color reference would be more accurate if done from direct observation.

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