Observation as Inspiration: The Value of Nature Journaling with Amy Tan and John Muir Laws

Please note: This virtual program is 12-1 pm EDT.


“My start in nature journaling and drawing came through workshops with John Muir Laws, co-founder of the Wild Wonder Foundation. I not only learned to draw, I discovered I could live more deeply in the moment, with curiosity, awe, and gratitude. It was restorative in a time of turmoil. I hope you can join me and share the joy.” – Amy Tan

“Keeping a nature journal is a learnable skill that can change our lives forever, opening doors to mindful attention, curiosity, wonder, beauty, connection, peace, and joy.” – John Muir Laws

Join Amy Tan and John Muir Laws as they discuss the enriching experience of nature journaling. Keeping a nature journal helps us to become more attuned to nature. Through the process of sketching what we see, we learn to better observe, understand, and appreciate the world around us. During this moderated Q&A discussion, Tan and Laws will share their experiences of developing and honing their skills as artists and naturalists through the process of nature journaling.

This program marks the opening of Amy Tan’s Backyard Birds, an exhibition of Tan’s drawings and nature journals, featuring sketches published in her new novel, The Backyard Bird Chronicles. The exhibition reflects on Tan’s six-year project of observing and drawing the birds in her backyard, and the important role of nature journaling to her artistic process. This program also coincides with International Nature Journaling Week, June 1 through 7.

About the presenters: Amy Tan is the author of The Joy Luck Club, The Kitchen God’s Wife, The Hundred Secret Senses, The Bonesetter’s Daughter, Saving Fish from Drowning, and The Valley of Amazement, all New York Times bestsellers, as well as two children’s books and the nonfiction books The Opposite of Fate and Where the Past Begins: A Writer’s Memoir. Her work has been translated into 35 languages and adapted for film, television and opera.

For her work, Tan has been nominated for the National Book Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award, and the International Orange Prize. She is also the recipient of the Commonwealth Gold Award, the 2005 Common Wealth Award of Distinguished Service, the 2021 Carl Sandburg Literary Award, and other honors. In March 2022 she was voted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters. She was also awarded the 2021 National Humanities Medal by President Joe Biden in a ceremony at the White House.

John Muir Laws is a principal leader and innovator of the worldwide nature journaling movement and the co-founder of the Wild Wonder Foundation. An award-winning naturalist, artist, scientist, author, and educator, he has dedicated four decades of his life to connecting people to nature through art and science. From an early age, his parents instilled in him a deep love and respect for nature, and that love has grown to a commitment to stewardship, nature conservation, and a passion to share the delight of exploring nature.

As a writer, scientist, and artist, Jack has developed numerous interdisciplinary educational programs that train people to become intentionally curious, observe with rigor, and discover and document the wonder and connection they find in nature. He is the author and illustrator of several books including The Laws Guide to Nature Drawing and Journaling (also available in Spanish), The Laws Sketchbook, The Laws Guide to Drawing Birds, Sierra Birds: a Hiker’s Guide, Sierra Wildflowers: A Hiker’s Guide, and The Laws Guide to the Sierra Nevada. He is co-author with Emilie Lygren of How to Teach Nature Journaling. Learn more about John Muir Laws here.