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Jessie Nakahara, “Cognitive Array”, pen and watercolor on paper
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Art Journaling in Yolo County

By: Jessie Nakahara for The Dirt

Our surroundings have a profound effect on our psyche. That is why, when it comes to creativity, we can feed our inspiration by building or placing ourselves in environments that allow our ideas to bloom.

I created this little drawing after a long period of feeling too busy and lacking of space to create art. However, this day, I was afforded the opportunity to try out the YoloArts Ag & Art Program (a nationally recognized creative placemaking program), visiting Zamora Hills Ranch with a colleague.

Getting out into the rolling hills, sitting amongst frogs by a pond, and just taking a break from the heaviness of recent day-to-day let my mind wander free.

Not even drawing what I observed, but letting memories of little nature objects that have been precious to me in fleeting moments at all stages of my life, I somehow tapped in to not just that nature experience, but a zone of all my experiences in the great outdoors.

Throughout our daily routines, our distractions are many and our responsibilities are abundant. I challenge you to intentionally step out into nature at least once this month. Bring along your medium of choice: notebook, guitar, sketchbook, paints, voice recorder… if you’re able, walk a distance (walking also has been shown to boost creativity) and then sit in a location that feels fresh to you.

Drawing from meditation techniques, let your breath settle into a steady rhythm, and take notice of your simple presence in space. Begin creating, without judgment of yourself or what comes out.

Suggested nature spots around Davis:

  • Wildhorse Agricultural Buffer
  • El Macero Agricultural Buffer
  • South Fork Preserve (ADA accessible)
  • Mace Ranch Park Habitat Area
  • North Davis Upland Habitat Area
  • Putah Creek Parkway
  • Woodbridge/Willowbank Habitat Area UC Davis Arboretum

About the Artist

Jessie Nakahara is an artist, arts administrator, early childhood specialist, and mom who has returned to her hometown of Davis to raise her children and make a positive impact in the arts and education communities that raised her.

For more about YoloArts Art & Ag Program head to

Info for image: Jessie Nakahara, “Cognitive Array”, pen and watercolor on paper

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