Monday, October 12, 2009

Meet the Correspondent: Judy Butler

My name is Judy Butler, an educator and amateur naturalist who has taught the art of journal keeping to students and teachers across the United States for over 20 years. Now that I am retired from school administration for over seven years, I am spending time with my educational consulting company, Dragonfly Enterprises as well as drawing and nature journaling. Keeping journals, taking photos, and doing watercolors of nature’s bounty is a respite from deadlines and reports that are a part of owning your own business.

One of my personal and professional objectives is to encourage educators to use journals with their students and to keep their own reflective journals. I developed a website to provide resources to teachers at

For 11 years I coordinated a large environmental program called the Harpeth River Environmental and Educational Project for Williamson County Schools in Middle Tennessee. This project was part of my responsibilities first as the Gifted Education Coordinator and then as the Curriculum Director for the school system. We raised over a half million dollars in grants to support the project that focused on the marriage of science, social studies, creative writing and the arts. A description of some of the activities for this program is available on one of my blogs called Reflections on the River.

I am not a trained artist having had no formal art school classes. I remember being in elementary school and being "the Pet" of all the teacher because I loved to draw and put up fancy bulletin boards for them. I learned early you could get a lot of positive attention with art skills. While in college getting my undergraduate and graduate degrees in speech pathology and special education my family opened an arts and crafts shop in the suburbs of New Orleans. This allowed me to attend vendor training and then teach non-stop classes in the art shop in the evenings and weekends: learn the craft one day and teach it the next. I know many of you understand that strategy. From flower arranging to tile mosaics to decorative painting in oils, I received an in-depth arts education over the years the shop was open. The morning glories shown here are typical of the influence of decorative painting on my work with squiggly lines and embellishments. See my blog, Naturalist Journal: Down The Nature Trail, for examples of other paintings with stories and descriptions of the art pieces.

As an adult and a stay-at-home mother for a while, I brought in extra money teaching decorative painting and running art summer camps for elementary children in my back yard. My daughter grew up with paint brushes in her hands before she could walk. Not surprising she got her undergraduate degree majoring in drama and art. She also attended graduate school at the Savannah College of Art and Design for a year. Visit her blog and website for her unique artistic designs. She has three art exhibits coming up between now and the end of the year. I am very proud of her. My husband is also a fine artist in the areas of music, writing and the visual arts. Our daughter was surrounded by a love of the arts all of her life.

I think my drawing skills have improved over the years because of frequent practice, pushing myself to do detailed nature study, such as the nautilus, and my obsession for art books. My first teacher in this book world was Clare Walker Leslie. I notice that so many of the "Correspondents" mention her in their introductions. I have worn her books thin over the years. I only discovered Flickr and blogs in the last year. Imagine my astonishment to find one of my other heroes, Cathy (Kate) Johnson was part of these online social networks. Kate's book, The Sierra Club Guide to Sketching in Nature was part of my art learning arsenal. I would get giddy when Kate would comment about my work on Flickr. I thought that was so exciting. My secret dream was that I would be invited to the Sketching In Nature blog as a "Correspondent." Wow. A dream come true. Just amazing.


  1. Welcome, Judy! I'm so happy to see you here!

  2. Wonderful post, Judy, and WELCOME. I'm so glad you could join us!

  3. Kate, thanks again for the invitation. Pam and Teri, I have so appreciated your encouragement in my recent artistic journeys. Judy

  4. Welcome Judy, always exciting to meet a new artist, looking forward to your posts.

  5. Just had a peek at all your sites - just LOVE the intro on!

  6. Maree, thank you so much. Ordinarily I don't like websites that open with music. But my sun-in-law wrote this original piano piece then synced it with the animation using my artwork. . It is really special for me. He is a graphic designer, so our family is wall-to-wall artists. This site is also full of resources for teachers particularly ideas for using journals with their students.

  7. Welcome, Judy! Your artwork and perspective are always a treat. What wonderful accomplishments and what a creative life!

  8. Elizabeth,
    The feeling is mutual. I so enjoy your artwork and your aspirations for teaching others. I look forward to your new posts. I learn so much. Judy


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