Sketching Tip: How to draw 8 specific things, in winter

Coniferous tree silhouettes in native forest preserve (Île-aux-Grues, Quebec)

“Even in winter an isolated patch of snow has a special quality.” -Andy Goldsworthy

But, how do you draw it?!

As anyone who has stared at a wintry scene knows, winter poses a unique set of drawing dilemmas and opportunities.

Some of the hurdles were identified by Harvard students and faculty during ‘Drawn to Science’ and ‘Drawn to the Landscape’ courses I led in January. Thanks to the enthusiasm and curiosity of those students, I had a great excuse to go looking for specific answers. I mined reference books and online resources, and have come up with recommendations for how to meet these winter sketching challenges.

Here’s what we were grappling with in Petersham, Mass. Please do feel free to share more suggestions and references in the comments!

  1. Drawing trees in a forest of trees
  2. Drawing trees, branches, rocks, fences, and other things with snow piled on them.
  3. Drawing ice (on something and on/in water)
  4. Drawing a sunset/clouds without color
  5. Drawing tracks in the snow
  6. Making things look 3-dimensional
  7. How to draw curvy surfaces (such as plant leaves)

__________________________________________________________________ Continue reading “Sketching Tip: How to draw 8 specific things, in winter”

Drawn to (natural) History

What do the invention of watercolor, one-point perspective, and the rubber eraser have to do with the history of science? 

And what does any of that have to do with learning to sketch?

Making a shadow drawing during a 'Drawn to Natural History' workshohp
Workshop participant creating a shadow drawing

Last week, nearly 20 people joined me to explore the answers to these questions. We made a hands-on dash through the history of art and science.  In addition to an illustrated talk that highlighted both artistic and science technology advances through the ages, we explored a wide range of sketching techniques that even non-artists can use. Even the skeptics in the group were sketching by the end (scroll down for details). Continue reading “Drawn to (natural) History”

Scicomm advice: 7 life lessons that will help make your science matter

Orange & metallic blue butterfly_20130619 (5)_cr_c_wm_rsTerry Wheeler studies bugs.

Insects, that is, and he writes haiku about them.  He also works at McGill, and runs a blog called Lyman Entomological Museum, which is a delightful collection of musings about life as an entomologist.  He recently posted a piece called “to a young naturalist” which proposes a required reading list for a budding researcher/naturalist much broader than text books and field guides.

He writes that a snapshot of his field camp library “was a nice little microcosm of General Life Advice to the Young Academic Naturalist.”

Wheeler’s insights, derived from fundamentals such as A Naturalist’s Field Guide to the Artic and the much less obvious Of Mice and Men and To Kill a Mockingbirdencompass many of the lessons I try to share with clients and colleagues working in science and sustainability.

IMG_0084_c_cr_wm_rsThey are life lessons that apply to anyone seeking a richly productive and meaningful life working in the sciences, natural history, and environmental fields. Continue reading “Scicomm advice: 7 life lessons that will help make your science matter”