Happy not-quite-spring, dear readers!
Although we’re a long way from actual spring, the weather in my neck of the woods has been decidedly warm lately.
That means, I’ve been spending a lot of time outside, roving the prairie with my pup, and, to be honest, writing more than drawing. Even so, the January/February 2017 newsletter focuses on winter (or what’s left of it), things you can do indoors, etc.
Jan/Feb Table of Contents
Sketching Tip: Sketching Snow
Artful Science: Tips for integrating drawing into university biology courses
Artful Classrooms: Winter Vocabulary
News & Events:
Webinar: Tips for working with an illustrator; 2/22
Poem published in Montana anthology
I’ve been elected chair-elect for ESA SciComm Section!
I’m collaborating with the coordinator of a series of undergraduate Animal Biology labs this semester. She is interested in integrating drawing more fully and effectively into the work that instructors and students do in those labs. Her motivation stems, at least in part, from noticing that photographing specimens appears to be the most common way students interact with specimens in these labs. And yet, based on low exam scores, students aren’t getting much out of taking photos.
And so, we’ve been talking about how to utilize drawing as an active learning tool, as well as a self- and summative assessment strategy. Considerations include how to introduce drawing to TAs and students, and how to integrate it in myriad forms (phylogenetic trees, graphs, food web diagrams, specimen sketches, etc.) throughout lab activities, homework assignments, quizzes and exams.
We’ll be doing a TA training session before the semester begins, to ensure the TAs have basic familiarity and comfort in sketching and to troubleshoot facilitating it with their students.
As we planned all thi, I realized that one thing I take for granted is my capacity to articulate how and why to utilize drawing in these ways.
I’ve been busy working on illustrations for an exhibit of my “Ecologically True Story of the Tortoise and the Hare” project. As a result, I’m in a sketching mood, and I’ve started sending drawings hither and yon.
Last month’s sketching tip focused on making stickers from our drawings, as a way of making reproductions we could certainly share.
But this month, I’m in the mood for sharing with no intermediate process. So, I’m suggesting you sketch on the packages you mail, and illustrate the letters you send (and send a letter!). 🙂
Mid-semester, responsibilities, due dates, and life can feel overwhelming. But, taking breaks and doing “other” activities are essential strategies for fostering your own work and creative thought.
I’ve remarked many times that reading, writing, and drawing are three ways that I manage to ‘suspend’ time. In all three activities, my brain slips into a hyper-focused dimension in which I have no sense of time passing.
And while this brain space can be problematic when I have a finite amount of time for it, allowing ourselves to work and think outside of time is not just pleasurable, it’s really important.
After all, a body of research indicates that arts activities are often key to science breakthroughs.
This month’s newsletter shares a few perspectives on why and how to engage in leisure and arts activities.