For this installation of Nature Journaling, we want you to get closer! This exercise is called “Zoom in/Zoom out,” and is a helpful tactic for focusing in on details and more fully understanding what it is you’re drawing. Sometimes the best way to figure out how to draw something is to break it up into its various components and focus on those individually before you can precisely capture the whole. There are multiple ways to approach this!
Let’s say you are drawing a scene or a landscape. First, draw your scene, and then, once you’ve gotten your first impression down on paper, get a little closer and focus on just one part of the place you drew. You might pick a tree, a flower, or a boulder on a hill, or even a bird in the sky! The more your choice moves, the harder this exercise will be.
Whatever it is you isolate, draw that again from a little closer. You might find you see and capture just a little more detail of what you’d already understood and drawn. Suddenly you see that it’s not just a black bird, but a red-winged blackbird, or that the bark on that tree is light in some place, dark in others with a pattern twisting up the trunk like ski tracks. Maybe it even totally changes your understanding of the landscape scene! Maybe the boulder isn’t just a boulder but covered in many-colored mosses and lichens! In the margins around your drawings, write what you discovered, what you noticed, and what your process was.
The second tactic for this Zoom in/Zoom out exercise is to pick an object to draw like a leaf or a flower—something small and intricate. Draw it! Once you’ve drawn the item as a whole, get in even closer. What is the patterning or texture on the underside of the leaf? When you break apart the flower what tiny parts do you find hiding on the inside? Now draw these more up close and personal elements of your object! Again, you may find your understanding of that object shifts, more aware of its details and the qualities that make it distinct from its tiny hairs to its pollen-dusted stamen.