One of the challenges of any nature journaling for the purposes of learning is finding a balance between enjoyment and enlightenment.
So far I’m achieving both, but not without some conscious decision-making. This has not been a passive sketching project. There are thousands of species of ferns, from many different groups – many I’ve never seen or heard of. Finding good reference photos for some has been a challenge. Knowing how many and which fern species from each genera to include on a page is another time-consuming concern, but all part of the process of enlightenment. It would also be easy to pick the least complex leaves to draw in order to finish pages quicker, but I feel this would misrepresent an ancient and diverse group of plants. Besides, the end result would be a less visually appealing spread.
As with most taxonomy and phylogeny, sometimes a species inclusion in a group doesn’t make sense, at least to a non-botanist like me, especially when the experts don’t agree. There have even been several occasions when there has been some ambiguity, even controversy, about a species’ placement within a particular group. I do my best with the taxonomic nomenclature, but systematics is not the reason for the journal so it doesn’t really matter if some of it is imprecise. I won’t be travelling the world identifying fern species any time soon.
Another minor issue I have is my own handwriting. I write in all caps because it’s more legible, but even then I keep it to a minimum because, frankly, it’s ugly. I’ve updated my Lamy Al-Star nib to a black stainless steel medium nib rather than the fine nib I was using as it is much smoother, so I am more inclined to use it. Clearly, though, I still need practice.
The final issue with a journal like this is time. I’m impatient to see a page done, but since a spread can take an afternoon to complete I won’t be finished any time soon. Fern leaves can be complicated, at least when it comes to drawing them.
Whatever the challenges, I am committed to seeing this sketchbook filled, no matter how much time it takes.