The Meticulous, Elegant Illustrations of the Nature Observed in England’s Countryside

If you hap­pen to have grown up in the Eng­lish coun­try­side, you prob­a­bly retain a cer­tain sen­si­tiv­i­ty to and affin­i­ty for nature. This can express itself in any num­ber of ways, most often by a com­pul­sion to gar­den, no mat­ter how urban the set­ting in which you now live. But Jo Brown has shown how to base a career on it: an artist and illus­tra­tor — and “bird­er wildlif­er mush­roomer,” accord­ing to her Twit­ter bio — she has long kept a “nature jour­nal” doc­u­ment­ing the flo­ra and fau­na encoun­tered in the coun­try­side around her home in Devon.

“At the end of April 2019, Jo post­ed a video of her jour­nal so far on Twit­ter,” says her web site. “It went viral and her fol­low­ers jumped from 9K fol­low­ers to 20K fol­low­ers in two days.” A glance at any giv­en page reveals what so impressed them. “Each page of Brown’s note­book con­tains a pen and col­ored pen­cil draw­ing that begins at the pages’ edges, appear­ing to grow from the cor­ner or across the paper,” writes Colos­sal’s Grace Ebert.

“Some­times cap­tured through close-ups that mim­ic sci­en­tif­ic illus­tra­tions, the del­i­cate ren­der­ings depict the detail of a buff-tailed bumblebee’s fuzzy tor­so and the red ten­drils of a round-leaved sun­dew. Brown notes the com­mon and Latin names for each species and com­mon char­ac­ter­is­tics, in addi­tion to where and when she spot­ted it.”

In oth­er words, the nature jour­nal show­cas­es at once its cre­ator’s keen eye, well-trained hand, and for­mi­da­ble knowl­edge of the nat­ur­al world. It also stands as a prime exam­ple of the art of note­book­ing.


Using to its fullest advan­tage her ruled Mole­sk­ine note­book (the brand of choice for those invest­ed in doing their jot­ting and sketch­ing on the go for a cou­ple of decades now), Brown effec­tive­ly deliv­ers a mas­ter class in the vivid, leg­i­ble, and ele­gant — dare we say organ­ic? — orga­ni­za­tion of both visu­al and tex­tu­al infor­ma­tion in the space of a small page.

You can take a clos­er look at how she does it on her web site as well as her feeds on both Twit­ter and Insta­gram. More recent­ly, her jour­nal has been pub­lished in book form as Secrets of a Devon Wood. Few nature-lovers, per­haps, can equal Jo Brown as an artist, but every­one can enjoy the glo­ri­ous­ly var­ied realm of life that sur­rounds them just as much as she does. “All that’s required,” she says, “is a lit­tle patience and qui­et obser­va­tion.”

via Kot­tke/Colos­sal

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Two Mil­lion Won­drous Nature Illus­tra­tions Put Online by The Bio­di­ver­si­ty Her­itage Library

The Bio­di­ver­si­ty Her­itage Library Makes 150,000 High-Res Illus­tra­tions of the Nat­ur­al World Free to Down­load

Ernst Haeckel’s Sub­lime Draw­ings of Flo­ra and Fau­na: The Beau­ti­ful Sci­en­tif­ic Draw­ings That Influ­enced Europe’s Art Nou­veau Move­ment (1889)

New Study: Immers­ing Your­self in Art, Music & Nature Might Reduce Inflam­ma­tion & Increase Life Expectan­cy

Japan­ese Artist Has Drawn Every Meal He’s Eat­en for 32 Years: Behold the Deli­cious Illus­tra­tions of Itsuo Kobayashi

The Sketch­book Project Presents Online 24,000 Sketch­books, Cre­at­ed by Artists from 135 Coun­tries

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and cul­ture. His projects include the Sub­stack newslet­ter Books on Cities, the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall, on Face­book, or on Insta­gram.

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