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The Sierra Club Guide to Sketching in Nature Hardcover – April 30, 1991

4.8 out of 5 stars 21 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Johnson, the author and illustrator of 17 books on art and nature, has updated her popular 1991 volume in the "Sierra Club" series. An inspiration for the naturalist/ artist, this practical, readable work focuses on drawing and sketching as ways of deepening one's relationship with nature. The complexities of color theory are kept to a minimum. Helpful source lists for art suppliers, national art workshops, and the bibliography have been brought up-to- date. This and Wendy Jelbert's Painting Nature's Details (Batsford Ltd., dist. by Trafalgar Square, 1996), which represents the fine arts perspective, should satisfy nearly all patrons. Highly recommended for general collections.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Inside Flap

Revised and updated with 280 sketches and paintings, this new edition will appeal to the large market of nature lovers, aspiring artists, botanists, birdwatchers, teachers, hikers and naturalists. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 228 pages
  • Publisher: Sierra Club Books (April 30, 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0871566915
  • ISBN-13: 978-0871566911
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 7.5 x 10.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,805,100 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

Cathy Johnson, sometimes known as Kate, has worked as a naturalist, writer, and freelance artist for the past 35 years, and was staff naturalist and contributing editor for Country Living magazine for 11 years. She was a contributing editor to the Artist's Magazine and Watercolor Magic (now Watercolor Artist) and has had a regular column in Personal Journaling magazine, where she wrote on a subject she feels passionately about -- realizing the importance of creativity in our lives. She has written and illustrated -- her own work and that of others -- for a number of national magazines, including Science Digest, Harrowsmith Country Life, Sports Afield, Country Journal, Muzzlelader, Women's History, Early American Life, Sketchbook, Woodworker, Woman's Day, Threads, Mother Earth News, National Wildlife Magazine, Sierra and others. Her writing and artwork have been included in a number of nature anthologies and art books.

She is passionate about journaling and sketching, as well, as her popular Artist's Journal Workshop suggests, and she runs a huge Facebook group online originating from that book She is very active on Facebook with a number of groups as well as her own professional page, here: https://www.facebook.com/Cathy-Johnson-Art-119899574740563/


She has written and illustrated 34 books, and contributed to a number of others, working with a variety of national publishing houses. Those include North Light/F&W, Time/Life, Sierra Club, Random House, Scholastic, Globe Pequot Press, Gibbs-Smith Publisher, Tehabi, Van Nostrand Reinhold, Walker Publications, Prentice-Hall Press, Penguin, Stackpole and others.


Many of these books have been published in editions overseas, as well, in Russia, Japan, Holland, France and England.


In 1993, she founded her own small publishing company, Graphics/Fine Arts Press, which primarily offers books of interest to the reenacting community or others interested in history and material culture.

She teaches online, offering a number of self-directed mini-classes on her website.

Her paintings are included in a number of private and corporate collections in this country and abroad, including Hallmark Cards, Inc., Kansas City, MO; F&W Publications/North Light Books, Cincinnati, OH; Early American Life Magazine, Harrisburg, PA; The Kansas City Life Insurance Co., Kansas City, MO; and Newcomers Funeral Home, Kansas City, MO.


Her original jewelry has also found its way overseas, to Scotland and Great Britain, and is included in the Images of the Archetype Collection in Glasgow, Scotland and her green man and fantasy paintings and sculptures are currently in a one-woman show online at http://www.greenmanreview.com/gallery-kate/index.html.


She has been a longtime member of the Author's Guild and the Costume Society of America. She was chosen Conservation Communicator of the Year by the Burroughs Audubon Society in l987, and won the Thorpe Menn Award for Creative Writing (AAUW) for The Naturalist's Cabin; Constructing the Dream (Viking Penguin) in 1992.

She offers a number of free tutorial videos on YouTube, as well, here: https://www.youtube.com/user/KateJosTube

She's married to the love of her life, Joseph Ruckman, and shares a small Victorian house with him and a varying number of cats.


Her website is http://cathyjohnson.info

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This is a pretty complete little volume. When you get it, you really do have to assume some knowledge and practice of making art and the media, however, she goes over materials and techniques, which can serve as a good refresher or initial exposure.
The best part is a discussion early on about how to pack all the materials so you don't keel over from exhaustion, hauling too much art gear, along with the usual standard hiking goodies. (I especially needed help with that, given my childlike adoration of way too many pretty colors.)
The emphasis is on SKETCHING, not doing the Mona Lisa. This is important in outdoor work as light changes and speed can be of the essence. I sometimes pick up this book so that I can just relax my techniques a bit.
The examples in the book, in many media and in monochrome or color are a delight to view. Sometimes, it's just fun to sit down with a cuppa and flip through the nice drawings of objects and scenes in nature.
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Format: Paperback
This book provides a tremendous amount of information on sketching in nature but don't let the title fool you- this is a terrific general sketching and drawing book. Johnson covers topics that are rarely covered in other books. The use of pens, watercolors, pencils and colored pencils (both water soluble and not) are covered. This is an invaluable book and is an asset to both the beginner and more advanced student. I'm on Amazon right now trying to find other books by Cathy Johnson- I'm that impressed.
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Format: Paperback
This is a very refreshing book. Cathy Johnson not only makes it look easy to draw and paint loose, yet accurate, watercolor sketches outdoors, but she tells you everything you need to know. This book will actually teach you how to draw and paint what you see, without making things overly complicated. Best of all, her supply list is well within the means of most people. I really enjoyed this book, and learned a great deal from it. This summer, I caught Lyme disease. It's nasty. For months, I could hardly walk, let alone hike and garden and do stuff I used to love. But Cathy's book has helped draw me back outside, and I'm learning to love nature all over again, one leaf, flower, and bug at a time. This book would make a great gift.
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Format: Hardcover
In lieu of a long list of superlatives let me just say that a few years ago this book inspired me to go out and sketch in the wilderness and I have been doing it ever since. I have read several books on how to sketch, draw and paint, but no one I know does such a magnificent job of describing and explaining the subject. From materials to technique, to the thought process that goes into sketching in the field, Cathy Johnson covers it all concisely, rationally and with feeling.
I recommend this book for beginner or otherwise. Twelve chapters. It has 227 pages and no index. Good bibliography.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I was looking for a book to go through all aspects of nature sketching and journaling. This is the book! I have lended the book out to other sketch artists and they found it very useful as well. Lots of pointers on different types of sketching and FANTASTIC illustrations. It it worth purchasing just for the illustrations alone. I would recommend this book to ANYONE who is interested in sketching nature.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Cathy Johnson scored another home run with me with this book. I'm newly returned to sketching after a 40-year break. I started with her "first series" sketching and drawing book after checking it out of my local library. The Sierra Club guide is broader and more inclusive, loaded with ideas and techniques from other artists, and very useful to a beginner. I like Cathy Johnson's style and her presentation - the idea of "suggesting" a form or shape or movement is appealing; she gives me enough information and encouragement to try something, modify it, and make up my own style.
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Format: Paperback
I loved this book. I am a beginner and it was an excellent resource.
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Format: Paperback
I am a novice artist and need all the tips and help I can get. This book is a big help and I refer to it frequently.
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