Exhibit A, from The Autobiography of Charles Darwin:
“[Not being urged to practice dissection] has been an irremediable evil, as well as my incapacity to draw.”
It was actually Darwin’s shipmate on the HMS Beagle, Conrad Martens, who made the sketches best known from that expedition. And, it wasn’t until well after Darwin’s famous voyage to the Galapagos that a publisher sent an artist back to that region with the express responsibility to illustrate Darwin’s observations.
Most publications from Darwin’s era were similarly professionally illustrated, with many of the illustrations based on specimens he collected. However, these illustrations were not Darwin’s own work.
Mind you, Darwin did occasionally sketch, as can be seen in his diagrams of “trees” roughly indicating how organisms were related. And, there are a handful of rough sketches of plant cross sections and geologic formations scattered through his myriad notebooks. But, these few sketches pale alongside the copious volumes of written notes and manuscripts he made.
“Too much importance cannot be given to drawing, as it is not only an excellent device for securing close observation, but it is also a rapid method of making valuable notes.”
Inspired by Louis Agassiz, the Harvard Committee of Ten insisted that drawing be an essential part of science education at their institution. While this curricular edict was issued in 1894, it is a learning and research recommendation whose value I rediscover every time I work on the “Ecologically True Story of the Tortoise and the Hare.”
I spent much of the summer contributing to/planning two summer teaching institutes at the University of Wyoming, working on an art-as-science research manuscript with some great collaborators in Canada’s Northwest Territories, and crafting some illustrations of native bees for a science ed/outreach initiative based in North Carolina. And most recently, I helped facilitate UW’s first ever SciArt Symposium, which was a fascinating blend of both fields.
Through it all, I’ve been thinking about my genuine interest in being a catalyst and idea-sharer, helping others access the pleasure and productive aspects of art-science integration.
And so, this month’s newsletter focuses on some of the ideas and info I’ve encountered and shared this summer, with an eye toward connecting you to others’ ideas.
September Table of Contents
Sketching Tip: Sketching at zoos and aquariums (guest tip!)
Artful Science: Stardom – Women in science and the arts
Artful Classrooms: Drawing in the Classroom – Ideas in practice
Sketchbook Snapshot: Experimenting through repetition
News & Events:
Illustrated greeting cards for staying in touch this summer
University of Wyoming Natural History Class – student workshop