“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.
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?
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”