Sketching Tip: Sketching your notes at conferences, meetings & in class

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Notes from a training I did in preparation to volunteer for an amphibian monitoring citizen science project in Wyoming.

These tips are excerpted from an earlier article I wrote highlighting many ways that sketchnotes are being used by scientists. The following tips, though, are broadly applicable for many kinds of note-taking situations. Continue reading “Sketching Tip: Sketching your notes at conferences, meetings & in class”

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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Darwin wouldn’t draw. Seriously.

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He said so himself. And he regretted it.

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.

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“Tree of life” sketches (Charles Darwin, in the public domain)

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.

Darwin maintained he couldn’t draw.

So he didn’t ever do it.[1] Continue reading “Darwin wouldn’t draw. Seriously.”

February/March 2015 newsletter: Cold weather sketching adventures

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Table of Contents

  • Sketching tip: Planning for outdoor sketching
  • Artful Science: Value of drawing for science (according to American Natural History Museum)
  • Artful Classrooms: Research shows drawing is a valuable aspect of teaching and learning.
  • Sketchbook Snapshot: Sketching in the Northwest Territories
  • News & Events
    • June workshop in Glacier National Park
    • Illustrations published on buzzhootroar.com
    • What I learned drawing fish and plants

Pocket Guide: Sketching and Field Journal Basics

Bethann Garramon Merkle sketching in Grand Teton National Park

Now more than ever, you may want a sense of calm and rootedness.

Of small, simple moments of joy.

Of deep connection to place.

And, a parallel quietness of mind.

Go for it! Suspend time. Pause the do list in your head. Instead, focus closely on details in the natural world around you.

Sketching is a powerful way to direct your attention and create this sense of focus. If you’re not quite sure how to get started, this little pocket guide is for you!

This advance copy of the Pocket Guide to Sketching and Field Journal Basics gets you started with the fun, whacky techniques that professional artists use to warm up, move past the blank page, and channel observation into discovery and delight.

With your copy of the pocket guide as your companion, you can pursue your curiosity while calming your mind. If you sketch your observations regularly, you will begin to build a sense of place, whether you observe snails in a window flower box, weeds growing through cracks in the sidewalk, or migratory birds in a wilderness area.

While the materials in this pocket guide focus on science and nature, the sketching exercises and basic principles are equally useful if you want to sketch your garden, coffee cup, or next trip (when we can travel again!).

pay_what_you_canPay what you can!

With whatever amount* you are able to contribute, you can take yourself on a journey that will enhance your sense of place and help you find small delights close to home.

*Just adjust the quantity in the PayPal link to adjust the amount you contribute! 🙂

Now, keep reading to learn a bit more about how science and art have teamed up throughout the ages!


Continue reading “Pocket Guide: Sketching and Field Journal Basics”