If you enjoy watching birds float by or chipmunks scurrying across your lawn, then you can draw them to remember what was cheering you on. A few basic tips can help you make simple drawings. Don’t worry about how good they are. Enjoy learning to see nature. As the writer and naturalist Rachel Carson said, “If you notice nature, you will never be bored.”

All you need is a pencil and paper. (You can start in the bottom right section.) If your desired subject is not right in front of you or is moving too fast to capture, a field guide or a clear photo from a magazine or an online search will do. Select a picture in the profile so that you can better see the shape of your subject. Keep your drawing small, no more than two inches to start.

How to start: Find five or ten minutes in your day to slow down and be with nature. What would you like to draw to learn more about it? It could be anything – a butterfly, a chickadee, an oak, even a green pepper or an apple.

Take a very close look at your motif and find out its basic shape. How did it grow and where? How does it live Remember, this is a stress reliever, not a stress creator. Getting to know your animal is the most important thing. Try to make sketches of what you are seeing directly, mainly looking at the animal rather than your paper.

Do not take more than 15 minutes. If you think people don’t know what you drew, label it and write down the date so that you can remember when you drew it. And if you want to get better, keep drawing.

To get you started, here are a few tips:

Recognition…Clare Walker Leslie

1. All mammals can be drawn starting with three basic circles for the hips, abdomen and shoulders.

Recognition…Clare Walker Leslie

2. Once you have these you can sketch the other parts – the neck, head, tail, legs, and the initial details.

Recognition…Clare Walker Leslie

3. Once you’ve worked out your proportions, add the details of the fur, eye, nose, etc. to create your finished drawing.

Recognition…Clare Walker Leslie

1. All birds are drawn starting with two base circles for the body and head, the relative size of which is determined by the bird’s anatomy.

Recognition…Clare Walker Leslie

2. Add the tail, wing, piece of neck, and legs.

Recognition…Clare Walker Leslie

3. Once you’ve worked out your proportions, add details about the feathers, beak, toe, and eye to create your finished drawing.

Recognition…Clare Walker Leslie

Regardless of what type of animal you are drawing, it is important to properly position the eye and put a highlight so it doesn’t look dead. For birds, make sure you draw the top and bottom bill so the bill can open.

Recognition…Clare Walker Leslie

1. Find the basic geometric shape of your flower. Here the daffodil has a six-pointed star shape as there are six petals.

Recognition…Clare Walker Leslie

2. Draw the petals around your star, middle trumpet, stamen and pistil inside, and then the veins of the petals plus stem (and maybe the leaf next to it).

Recognition…Clare Walker Leslie

3. In profile, the shape of the flower is no longer round, but oval because it is shortened.

Clare Walker Leslie is an internationally renowned wildlife artist, writer, and educator. She has written 13 books about drawing and connecting with nature.