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The Art and Craft of Nature Writing and Illustration 2017 | October 8 – October 11, 2017

Discover nature and stories through guided observations, research, and mentoring.

In order to help children and young adults foster a connection with the natural world, we must be truly connected as adults. We owe it to the world – the Earth – to share this connection, this gift with our children.

It is our responsibility to meet our children where they are, cut through the noise of their daily lives, and appeal to their natural sense of wonder. Our work is an invitation, and it must be evocative. To accomplish this, let’s take a few days away from our own distractions and blaze trails together through these deep, dark woods. Let’s connect with nature in the 1,300 acres of land surrounding the Highlights Foundation’s retreat center.

Our workshop for nature writers and illustrators offers four days of immersion in the art and craft of writing and illustrating about the natural world. Through nature-journaling workshops, lectures, one-on-one manuscript critiques, and ample writing time, this workshop will give you the tools and insights you need to create engaging children’s books.

This workshop will help you:

  • Use basic tools and techniques for nature observation and journaling
  • Identify solid nature story ideas for various children’s publishing markets
  • Work with experts to improve the accuracy and depth of your writing

Our goal is to make the event inclusive to both writers and illustrators. Nature journaling crosses over both disciplines and benefits all creativity, no matter what the medium. Writers will get to draw, and artists will get to write with absolutely no pressure. It’s all about learning to see, to observe more, and pay attention to all our senses.

Preliminary schedule
Day 1
Afternoon
Arrivals and check in.

Evening
Appetizers & dinner.
After dinner: welcome & introductions.

Day 2
Morning
Coffee/tea & guided Early Bird Walk (optional) with Rob Bierregaard.
Breakfast.
Keynote: Baby Birds: An Artist Looks Into the Nest, Julie Zickefoose.
Field Exercise: Come to Your Senses, Kate Garchinsky.

Afternoon
Lunch.
One-on-one critiques and free writing time.
A visit with Mary Colgan, Senior Editor at Boyds Mills Press.

Evening
Appetizers & dinner.
After dinner: fireside cider & s’mores plus owl calling! (Rainy night alternative: cider & bedtime stories in the library.)

Day 3
Morning
Coffee/tea, gentle yoga in the loft (optional).
Breakfast.
Situational Awareness and the Art of Disappearing, Julie Zickefoose.
Field Exercise: Situational Awareness.
Writing Extraordinary Narrative Nonfiction for Kids, Laurence Pringle.

Afternoon
Lunch and class photo.
One-on-one critiques and free writing time.
The Secret Life of the Green Illustrator, Kate Garchinsky.
The Nature of the Market: Picture Books.
Book signing party.

Evening
Appetizers & dinner.
After dinner: special guest.

Day 4
Morning
Breakfast.
Belle’s Journey: From Scientist to Children’s Author, Rob Bierregaard
A Skype visit with Karen Boss, Associate Editor at Charlesbridge.
DIY Social Media & Marketing Panel, Julie Zickefoose.

Afternoon
Lunch & farewells.
Optional tour of Highlights for Children and Boyds Mills Press.

Faculty & Special Guests