GUEST DOODLEWASH: Love Letters To Nature

Doodlewash in watercolor of woman feeding a baby sea otter by Jessica Hay

Doodlewash of Pavlof Volcano in watercolor by Jessica HayHi! My name is Jessica Hay and I live in Wasilla, Alaska (follow me on Instagram!). I am fascinated with science and love writing but not math, so I studied Anthropology. I never finished my Masters degree, but I did receive a BA and have worked in my field.

My work with the National Park Service (both Lake Clark and Katmai NP) and the Alaska Department of Fish and Game focused on my passions: subsistence fishing, collecting oral histories, education, ethnobotany, and all things trail. My passion for learning about the natural world, connecting with people, and the influence of my work as an anthropologist in remote Alaskan villages has led me to nature journaling.

As an anthropologist, I am interested in the social history of landscapes, and Alaska is the most inspiring muse. Functionally, the landscape provides for me in many ways: I gather medicine, I eat the plants, I fish and hunt and eat my catch, I recreate here, and I receive so much inspiration from it all.

Doodlewash of a mosquito in watercolor by Jessica HayI often have moose in my yard (in fact as I write this I am watching two browsing on a fallen tree from my window). I can find anything from Dall Sheep to bears, anadramous fish to migratory birds, and any number of fascinating small mammals and plant life minutes from my home if not on my doorstep. Every day, I have something I find endlessly fascinating to document in my journal.

As an academic/career-minded woman turned homemaker, I have found that combining my love for art and writing has been a rewarding creative and intellectual outlet. I think it also has made me more observant of natural phenomena, and dig deeper into understanding the minute details that largely go unnoticed.

Last fall, I joined Instagram and have really enjoyed the interaction with people from around the world. What an amazing tool for artists, especially those like me who are otherwise isolated from larger populations and ideas.

Doodlewash of Brown Leaf in Watercolor by Jessica HaySo here is how my journaling works:

First, I go outside. I always find something super cool (to me). I have a camera everywhere I go, and take photos of my findings for reference later.

Second, I draw. I usually have a half hour to an hour to draw and journal. Most of the time I work only in ink, but if we are sitting around the table and the kids have their Crayola paints out I will add a splash of color to keep it interesting. My journals are messy. There is no time to lay things out in pencil first, so I just go for it with ink. At first it was intimidating, but now I have been working this way for a year and I think it has made me a better artist. I am forced to work with mistakes and be content with less than perfection.

Doodlewash of Eagles in various poses by Jessica HayThe photos included here are the raw, honest look inside my personal journals, with my observations. I find that drawing out my observations is a way for me to get to know my subject more intimately. I consider my work to be love letters to the subjects.

I deeply love each bird, moose, and bone I find, and love extending my time with them by drawing. Sometimes I find a detail I hadn’t noticed before and my understanding deepens. Often, I will be thinking of some spiritual element of my own life that is symbolically represented in some aspect of what I am drawing. I love having that quiet reflective time.

Doodlewash of Yellow Leaf in Watercolor by Jessica HayAnd last, I share! Since joining Instagram, I find I have time to expand on my ideas about my work in written form. I think my work as an artist is equal parts drawing and writing. I write a lot of captions in school parking lots, while waiting for a pot to boil, or from my bed at night. All of these odd little times of waiting are now my own to use to complete my artistic expressions. Thank you so much for being part of my journey!

Jessica Hay

Recommend0 recommendationsPublished in Featured Artists
  1. Teresa Robeson 7 years ago

    I love Jessica’s art! Studying nature from various vantage points/methods is a great way to get to know it better and treasure it more!

  2. Jessica Seacrest 7 years ago

    Thanks for sharing your story and your art Jessica! Your leaves are amazing, and your studies- very interesting!

  3. Sharon Bonin-Pratt 7 years ago

    Jessica, your art is delightful and shows your passion for what you do.
    Thanks, Charlie, for introducing us to this wonderful artist.

  4. dapplegrey 7 years ago

    How I love this post – and everything about Jessica’s story and her creative journaling. Thank you!

    • Author

      Yay! So thrilled you liked this! Jessica is definitely one to follow on Instagram. She shares her stories there as well! 😃

  5. Jodi 7 years ago


  6. Sharon Mann 7 years ago

    Thanks for sharing your fascinating life and beautiful art Jessica. Thank you Charlie.

    • Author

      Thanks Sharon!! 😃I’ve been following Jessica’s sketches for some time and then she added doodlewashes!! Was so happy to feature her here!

  7. Teri C 7 years ago

    Love the way you incorporate art, journaling and nature into your life.

  8. memadtwo 7 years ago

    Really wonderful! Each page is better than the next, I can’t pick a favorite. (K)

  9. debiriley 7 years ago

    Jessica has such a deep, love for nature that enthuses and inspires us all! that sense of intimate connection to her subjects……. is beautiful in its purity and essence.
    gorgeous art, heart felt!!! cheers, Debi

  10. greenmackenzie 7 years ago

    Wonderful….what a fulfilling and grounded life…..and I love the art work💕

    • Author

      I agree!! Glad you liked Jessica’s feature! Definitely check out her other work and stories on Instagram!! Wonderful stuff!! 😉

  11. waynejacques 7 years ago

    Thanks for sharing Charlie. I have been following Jessica for a while and her work is wonderful. It great to read a little about the back story.

  12. artandmoondreams 7 years ago

    “I consider my work to be love letters to the subjects.” Perfectly said. Love this post, idyllic and inspirational. The paintings are wonderful and the journal pages fantastic…great feature, loved every bit. (Even the mosquito looked great!) Thank you for sharing. Peace.

  13. Sharon Nolfi 5 years ago

    Your nature studies are wonderful! I’ve visited Alaska and loved it there.

  14. Pamela Smith 5 years ago

    Great article,I love your artwork.

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