Drawn to the West: Squirrelly Notions

Cross-posted on www.drawntothewest.com
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There weren’t any squirrels in the town where I grew up.

I didn’t know to remark on that fact when I was young.

It wasn’t until I moved away from home that I discovered two apparent truisms regarding urban squirrels:

  1. Squirrels can be boldly urbane, in their own chattery twitchy way.  
  2. Squirrels occur en masse in every town and city I have since inhabited.
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Despite this, or perhaps as a result, I haven’t thought or written much about squirrels. That pleasant oblivion ended abruptly last summer. In 2014, my typical gardening frenzy was necessarily pared down to a few pots of tomatoes, peppers, and herbs on a borrowed balcony.

Continue reading Drawn to the West: Squirrelly Notions

A quick look at insects during National Pollinator Week

Cross-posted on www.drawntothewest.com

For the past decade, I’ve taken special delight in looking at, and drawing, insects.

It all started with a three-year artist residency at the Watershed Education Network, where I developed a place-based journal/sketching component for their stream ecology field trips, drew about 30 aquatic macroinvertebrate (small water-dwelling insects) illustrations for a wetland guide book, and helped develop a new logo and merchandise line. Continue reading A quick look at insects during National Pollinator Week

June newsletter: Birds on the brain!

Lately, I’ve been writing about birds, drawing birds, tending to the six that are now my responsibility (chickens!), and watching birds. So this month’s newsletter is (almost) all about birds.

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Click here to subscribe – future editions full of ideas, inspiration, and references will come straight to your inbox.

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This Month’s Table of Contents:

  • Sketching tip: 4 bird sketching tips (the shapes a bird is “made of”)
  • Artful Science: 2 great #sciart bird books – America’s Other Audubon and The Unfeathered Bird
  • Artful Classrooms: Bird drawing tips from a top bird artist, John Muir Laws
  • Sketchbook Snapshot: Toads, gardens & a puppy
  • News & Events

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NOTE: The CommNatural newsletter is distinct from my blog. The newsletter focuses on drawing in SciArt, while the blog deals with a range of SciComm topics. So click here to view the newsletter archive and click here to subscribe. Curious what’s the difference? Here’s a straight forward breakdown.

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.

Should we be feeding wild birds? How a desire to sketch birds led to a romp through the bird-feeding literature

Cross-posted on www.drawntothewest.com

Group of finches_v1You can tell it’s spring; the Internet is aflutter with bird articles.

A lot of those articles relate closely to the two-part series I just wrapped up about attracting wild birds using methods informed by ornithology research.

I was inspired to investigate the subject because we have a “new-to-us” backyard that is bare dirt. A few trees and shrubs sit at the corners of the lot, but that’s it. We’ve begun by seeding in some native grasses and installing a vegetable garden, and now are considering what we could do to attract birds.