How wondering “What’s wrong with that sagebrush?” led to drawing and researching insects I didn’t know existed.

 Cross-posted on www.drawntothewest.com

The other weekend, I was out hiking in an area of southwest Wyoming resplendent with big sagebrush.

As my husband and our puppy cruised ahead, I lagged behind, peering at some strange growths on the tips of a sagebrush’s leaves. The more I looked, the more I found, and the more I found, the more curious I became.

The little growths were less than an inch across, many much smaller, and ranged from chestnut brown to pale greenish-pink. They were spongy to the touch, and appeared to be covered in tiny hairs. Continue reading “How wondering “What’s wrong with that sagebrush?” led to drawing and researching insects I didn’t know existed.”

What I learned drawing: Fish & Desert Plants

Chiricahua National Monument (6)_wm

“Close observation is the first step in any scientific inquiry, and to my mind, there is no better way to observe than to try to draw what you are looking at.” – Barrett Klein

Barrett Klein, a trained artist and entomologist, is a preparator and display maker in the Exhibition Department at the American Museum of Natural History, and what he said couldn’t be more true for a couple of my recent commissions.

In December, I spent a luxurious handful of days in Arizona’s Sonoran desert, sketching and photographing the landscape, creatures, and plant communities. As I mentioned in my January newsletter, I was working on reference images for a set of commissioned pen-and-ink sketches slated to run in a book about desert bighorn sheep.

Perhaps one of the most revealing observations I made, though, had nothing to do with bighorn sheep.

Continue reading “What I learned drawing: Fish & Desert Plants”

January 2015 newsletter: Seeing the world anew

CommNatural Newsletter Header (2014)Since it’s January, this month’s newsletter

focuses on seeing the world anew.

Jan 2015 newsletter_screenshot
Click image to view January 2015 newsletter.

This Month’s Table of Contents:

  • Sketching tip: Museum visit-one piece at a time
  • Artful Science: Enhance your observation skills by drawing
  • Artful Classrooms: Mapping as a way of making meaning
  • Sketchbook Snapshot: Arizona’s Sonoran Desert
  • CommNatural Calendar

The CommNatural newsletter is distinct from my blog.

So click here to view and click here to subscribe. Curious what’s the difference? Here’s a straight forward breakdown.

 

Dear Digit: How do I make sense of the terms and technicalities associated with digital images?

Dear Digit sketch_5Click here to submit your questions and tips!

“Dear Digit, there are so many terms and technicalities associated with digital images, I’m lost. Do I need to know the difference between JPG and GIF, DPI and PPI, resizing and compressing, etc.? If so, how can I keep them straight?”

There are three categories of terms that are essential to producing, using, and sharing digital images: file type, file ‘quality’ and file size. Let’s take a closer look at each category.

FILE TYPES

Files types are identified by their extensions. If you are using or dealing with RAW (.raw) images, you will want to have a more nuanced understanding of file types than we can address in a brief article. For the other types, some general rules apply. The following table is a useful way to make sense of which specific uses each file type is designed for. Continue reading “Dear Digit: How do I make sense of the terms and technicalities associated with digital images?”

Illustrating Ecology…conferences, that is

*Images are from the ‘drawing for scientists’ section I led in a scicomm workshop at ESA’s 2014 annual meeting.

Researchers have demonstrated that drawing (even without training) can help clarify what you know, assist instructors in assessing student knowledge, and enhance public communication efforts. And, there is evidence that collaboration between scientists and artists may result in better science.

Continue reading “Illustrating Ecology…conferences, that is”