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  • Writer's pictureBethann Garramon Merkle

Resources: Sketching, learning by drawing, and more

Updated: May 30

Pen and ink sketches showing aspen tree leaves from lots of angles. Semi-legible notes accompany the sketches.
Notes and sketches of a sprig of aspen leaves (Image: B.G. Merkle, © 2013)

*This list is dynamic, and in-development. Feel free to make suggestions (use the comments section or contact me directly) re additional resources and great examples that should be included.



  1. Guild of Natural Science Illustrators (link to Facebook page)

  2. Nocturnal wonders: looking closely at moths

  3. New species at risk book written in indigenous languages by GNWT departments of Environment and Natural Resources and Education, Culture and Employment, and the Sahtu Renewable Resources Board (illustrations by ecologist and artist Jean Lieppert Polfus).

  4. – a graphics-driven blog that shares and/or explains a scientific concept in 300 words or less.



  1. Guide to Sketching and Field Journal Basics – context and sketching exercises for keeping a natural history sketchbook/journal

  2. 4 tips that can make digitizing sketches feel more like fun than drudgery.

  3. Sketching animals – good (albeit casual) tips from 8 sketchers

  4. 3 free online sketching workshops from Strathmore (art supplies company)

  5. A Life in hand: Creating the illuminated Journal (Hannah Hinchman, 1991)

  6. First Step Series: Sketching and Drawing (Cathy Johnson, 1995)

  7. Keeping a Nature Journal (Clare Walker Leslie & Charles E. Roth)

  8. The Sierra Club Guide to Sketching in Nature (Cathy Johnson, 1997)

  9. Urban Watercolor Sketching (Felix Scheinberger, 2011)



  1. My Guide to Sketching and Field Journal Basics – context and sketching exercises for keeping a natural history sketchbook/journal

  2. Drawing to learn in science research substantiating multiple benefits of drawing in science, from Science (Aug. 2011)

  3. Field Notes on Science and Nature (book) (review in Nature); edited by Mihael R. Canfield, foreword by E.O. Wilson

  4. Science says art will make your kids better thinkers and nicer people

  5. STEM to STEAM (incorporating art & design into science)

  6. Video on observation and field journaling by naturalist & artist John Muir Laws

  7. Nature journaling with your family (blog post with tips relevant to teachers and parents) by naturalist & artist John Muir Laws


USING SKETCHING IN YOUR CLASSES (classrooms, field trips & field courses)

  1. My very reader/teacher-friendly paper about how to use drawing for teaching lab and field courses

  2. CA Native Plant Society field journal curriculum (GREAT intro to nature sketching, whether you’re a teacher or not)

  3. An Invitation for Engagement: Assigning and Assessing Field Notes to Promote Deeper Levels of Observation

  4. Picturing to Learn -research/teaching methodology for university science students which uses drawing to assess student comprehension and increase student engagement and learning

  5. Arts Integration Resources from the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts; STEM to STEAM article from KCPA


USING OTHER PEOPLE’S IMAGES (same rules apply for illustrations and photos)





Are you really giving away your intellectual property rights when you share your images on social media? Maybe. Here are some best practices for sharing while retaining your rights.

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