Summer 2017 newsletter: Drawing on windows, making fish & more art-science tips

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Happy summer, dear readers!

I trust this finds you enjoying the weather and doing a bit of sketching. It’s hot in my corner of the Mountain West. I’m writing you from my basement – the only space where it is cool enough to think. But, happily, along with the heat comes garden season, complete with loads of the pollinators I so love to watch and draw. Speaking of which, this is my third year gardening at 7,200 feet above sea level, and it’s a garden in a new part of town.

On top of moving, there are other reasons why it was a busy spring. I successfullydefended my master’s thesis and started a new job. I published a blog series about using the internet to source images for SciComm. I’ve also been co-editing a blog featuring the wide range of career paths possible in SciComm. And, I did some traveling and teaching about art-science synergy, collaborate on communicating about migration, and more. Also,CommNatural is on Instagram now!

As a result of my transition to a new job and all this other busyness, I’m shifting this newsletter from monthly to quarterly. That will ensure I can still connect with you, and share ideas and field experiences, while also giving attention to this new work. Meanwhile, I’ll be posting material on the blog more frequently. I will reference some of it in the newsletter each quarter.

If you’d like to keep up as material is published, and don’t want to miss any of it, please subscribe to my blog. Just visit the website, scroll to the bottom, and provide your email address in the subscription bar! Thanks in advance for subscribing there.

As always, feel free to share* this newsletter with your  friends & colleagues. And do share your sketches & SciArt adventures with me via email or social media!

Happy sketching,

Summer 2017 Table of Contents

  • Insight: E.O. Wilson on drawing & creativity
  • Sketching tip: Drawing on windows
  • Artful Classrooms: Using resin sculptures and drawing to learn about cichlid (fish) phylogeny (genetic relationships)
  • Artful Science: A best-practices primer for using images
  • Sketchbook Snapshot: A mystery moth
  • News & Events: Upcoming science communication graduate course; field sketching workshops for the Wyoming Outdoor Council; recent publications, including a book featuring my illustrations of bighorn sheep; get your summer sketching kits while they’re still in stock
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Teaching teachers to integrate cichlid phylogeny, resin sculptures, and drawing in k12+ classrooms

The longer I am involved with art-science integration, the more time I get to spend teaching teachers — teaching them how to use drawing in science education.

Cichlid specimen (R) & cichlid sculptural models (L)

It’s an incredible perk of the work I do, as I’ve written about before.

In June, I co-taught a Summer Teaching Institute focused on “Exploring Art & Science.” The institute was organized by the University of Wyoming Art Museum’s Education Curator Katie Christensen, along with Master Teacher Heather Bender, and Artmobile Coordinator Erica Ramsey. Together, they and the rest of the Art Museum team are great advocates and partners for art-science work on campus and beyond.

During the institute, my teaching focus was drawing-based science learning and assessment strategies. We started with basic drawing techniques. I walked participants through a toolkit development session which involved lots of practice drawing.

Continue reading Teaching teachers to integrate cichlid phylogeny, resin sculptures, and drawing in k12+ classrooms

April 2017 CommNatural Newsletter: Migration, multimedia sketching & more

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Happy April, dear readers!

The weather is getting warmer and warmer. In addition to obvious shifts in the garden, migratory critters are coming back to the high plains.

My favorite are the turkey vultures that roots on campus. On warm breezy afternoons, they cruise low over the cottonwoods around our neighborhood.

In recognition of the vultures, bluebirds back out at our favorite hiking spot, and all the plants leafing out, this month’s newsletter looks at some familiar things from some fresh angles.

Keep reading. This month’s newsletter focuses on a mixed media sketching/pring-making technique, the launch of an image-use best practices blog series, and lots of news and events.

Happy sketching,

April Table of Contents

  • Insight: How and why migrations speak to us
  • Sketching Tip/Artful Classrooms: Solvent transfers (a printmaking technique)
  • Artful Science: Ethics of using reference/source images for art making and science communication
  • News & Events:
    • Drawn to Science plenary talk at American Fisheries Society’s western division annual conference scheduled for 5/23
    • Drawing for Science Communication symposium talk at American Fisheries Society’s western division annual conference also scheduled for 5/23. See the conference program for details.
    • Get your portable sketching kit, plus spring greeting cards and gifts from me! 🙂
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Sketching Tip: Solvent Transfers

Reproducing or presenting an image in an artistic way can help you catch the attention of a wider or different-from-usual audience.

One such method is the packing tape sticker I mentioned in my October 2016 newsletter. If you want to create something more permanent, though, you might try solvent transfers.
Wintergreen transfer + watercolor pencils; Bethann Garramon Merkle/public domain clip art

I learned about this printmaking technique just last week, when my writing students, co-instructor, and I took a field trip to the University of Wyoming Art Museum’s studio classroom. Our field trip was part of an on-going multidisciplinary approach to “Communicating Across Topics in Energy” (the name of the course). See the Artful Classrooms section of the March 2017 newsletter for more information about how students are exploring the connection and communication potential of artworks and energy issues.

Most of the images you’ll see throughout my April 2017 newsletter were created using this technique.

Solvent transfers are fairly straight-forward, judging by the process we learned at the museum:

Continue reading Sketching Tip: Solvent Transfers

News: SciArt for Children

 

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For almost a year now, I’ve been contributing natural history and science illustrations+text to a gorgeous children’s magazine called root & star.

My pieces have provided artful science-based exposure to fur, fish nests, chicken language, and coming soon, things that live in/under snow!

In the next year, I’ll focus on natural history collections, raccoon “hands,” horses, magpies, and the wind.

I’m telling you about root & star because:

I think it’s a phenomenal way to engage children in artful thinking and exploration. I love the magazine and love being part of it. There’s no monetary benefit to me if you subscribe or pick up a copy at one of the retailers now stocking it.

But, that’s fine — I only hope you’ll find it wonderful, too!