Join the High Country Nature Sketchers

Encouraging the exploration of our world through observation, sketching & journaling.

High Country Nature Sketchers is a community of artists and naturalists of all levels who meet together to connect to nature through art. We welcome all to join us!

Meetings are held around the Watauga county area once a month, usually the second Saturday of each month, from April through October.

We usually meet in the mornings, but meeting times may vary depending upon season, sketching location, lighting, etc. Meetings typically last 2 hours.

2018 UPDATE: My family and I are in the final stages of a building project and have an upcoming move planned. HCNS is on pause until after we are settled, so thanks for your patience. I hope to resume meet-ups sometime this summer.

How to join:

1) Carefully read the group FAQ located below.

2) Click the button below to join and pay the yearly membership fee, currently $20 per person, or a maximum of $50 per family of three or more. This small fee greatly helps maintain the quality of our group and allows you to receive emails about group meetings. You may also pay the fee at meetings.

3) After payment, request to join the HCNS Facebook group. Not on Facebook? Not a problem. Emails will be sent out to current members each month with meeting and club information.

Note: Any information you share goes directly to the group admin and is kept confidential. Joining this group means that you agree to receive group emails, usually no more than 1-2 emails per month. Thanks for joining!

High Country Nature Sketchers FAQ

Please read carefully before signing up!

So what’s this group about?
High Country Nature Sketchers is based on the structure of the west coast group that is facilitated by John Muir Laws. (You may notice a lot of his advice reflected here, and HCNS is listed on his website.) Though the main focus of the group is nature/outdoor sketching and journaling, we occasionally explore other subjects. Each month, we usually have a specific sketching theme or assignment. Instruction is a small part of each meeting, but emphasis is on personal observation and style. If the group wants to learn about it, observe it and sketch it, we try to do it! 

How often do we meet?
HCNS meets once a month, the second Saturday of each month, from April through October. We usually meet in the mornings. Throughout the year, additional workshops and gatherings may also be planned to take advantage of various sketching and learning opportunities.

Where do we meet?
We meet in and around the Watauga county area in various locations. Plan to be outdoors, but in extreme conditions the group may meet indoors or be rescheduled for the third Saturday of the month.

What does it cost to participate?
Currently, there is a $20 per person yearly membership fee. For families of 3+ (same household), membership fees are $50 per year. Leaders donate a huge amount of effort, time and their own funds that greatly exceed this small fee, so any contributions above the minimum membership costs are always welcome.

Meetings may occasionally happen at a location that requires an entrance, event, or parking fee, but all effort is made to keep costs as low as possible.

What ages may participate?
HCNS is targeted toward adults. However, this group is committed to a family-friendly, welcoming atmosphere. Mature children who have demonstrated an interest in sketching, can handle outdoor conditions, and can work quietly and independently will gain the most from the club and will ensure that their contribution enhances the experience for everyone.

If you have children who aren’t quite ready for independent study, consider a class or journaling group more appropriate for their ages and reach out to me regarding this endeavor. Parents who participate in this group are welcome to implement the ideas learned within their own families.

What do I need to sketch?
Paper and a pencil will do, but some folks enjoy more. Materials for sketching are personal & completely up to individual members. Bring whatever materials you need, but keep it simple, especially since walking and hiking may be a part of our meetings.

Supply suggestions are available here and you can see my favorites here, but very little is needed. (For example, see my minimalist sketching kit.) Coming to meets is a great way to learn about new tools and techniques!

How do I get there?
Transportation is completely up to individual members, but please consider carpooling.

How long are meetings?
Meetings typically last around 2 hours. We have a short, introductory learning session with the remainder of the time spent observing, sketching, and interacting. The leader will be available throughout the session for input and questions. Members are welcome to leave whenever they desire or need to, or in most cases, stay as long as they like.

But what if it rains?
Some of the greatest joys of nature observation happen when we let go of creature comforts and relish the outdoors in all it has to offer. However, please be mindful of our unpredictable mountain conditions! Wear comfortable shoes and pack plenty of water. Other possible needs are a camp stool, sunscreen, bug repellant, binoculars, etc. In cooler weather, dress in plenty of layers. Prepare for rain. (It happens.)

But what if I’m not very good?
HCNS is simply a means to hone observation skills and increase appreciation and understanding of the world around us, so sketchers and naturalist of all levels and expertise are welcome. Participants are expected to treat each other with respect and create a safe place for people to push their boundaries, draw, and write without criticism or fear. Please do what you can to engender this feeling in the group.

This group is not about art; this group is about exploration and learning. If you haven't drawn in a long time, it can be scary to start again. Once you do, you will discover that this new skill develops quickly. All you need is a willingness to relax, learn, and have fun!

Is this just a social thing?
Though interaction at meets can be a great learning tool, sketchers are welcome to work independently or join with others to sketch. However, please be respectful of members who may only have a few stolen moments each month to sketch, and allow them the quiet and solitude to do so. Unless invited, please don’t interrupt solo sketchers while they are working.

Can I bring my coworker, friend, etc?
Anyone who is interested in participating or even joining the club is always welcome at meets. Membership is only expected after the first visit.

How do I find out meeting information?
Emails containing meeting information will be sent out to group members around the first of each month. Joining this group means that you agree to receive group emails, usually no more than 1-2 emails per month. 

The HCNS Facebook group is for current members only, and members are greatly encouraged to join in. Monthly meeting information and other events and activities will be posted there, and group members are welcome to share sketches and other relevant information and interact all month long.

How may I help further?
If you have an idea for a meeting or outing or a way to make this group better, please share! If you are interested in being a group leader or willing to help with administration duties, please let me know. Additional donations and contributions exceeding the yearly membership fee are also welcome.

If you have any additional questions or need more information, please contact me.