Book review of “Then There Were None”

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Last year, a book I illustrated was published! The book, Then There Were None: The Demise of Desert Bighorn Sheep in the Pusch Ridge Wilderness, by Paul Krausmandetails the demise of the desert bighorn sheep populations in the mountains around Tuscon, Arizona. It is both a conservation history and a warning for current conservationists.

I was delighted to recently bump into a review of it that also mentioned my illustrations.

You can order the book from the publisher, New Mexico University Press, here.

Gillette News & Record picks up press release about grad students’ interpretations of local murals

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In Autumn 2017, I led a co-taught graduate seminar course called “The Art of Science Communication.” The first project we assigned to the students, who were all PhD candidates in the sciences, was to select a mural in downtown Laramie. They each developed an audio script (which they then recorded) that interpreted their chosen mural in a way that connected the mural to their own research.

Their research ranged from super-massive black holes to birds that are inadvertent gardeners in tropical rain forests. We collaborated with the Laramie Public Art Coalition and the Laramie Mural Project to make the recordings available online. And, the University of Wyoming Press Office helped us distribute a press release about the project that was picked up by the Gillette News Record

Learn more about the course, other communication and engagement projects developed by the students, and more, at the course website they maintained: engagelaramiescience.weebly.com.

 

Inspiration: Natural history resources and examples to jump-start and inspire you, your students, and your friends

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There’s a lot of SciArt out there, as you can see by this Google Image search for the term “#sciart”.

A few weeks ago, a friend wrote and asked me: “What natural history illustrators/artist-scientists would you want to use to inspire youth/adults to love nature, art, and science?”

Oh, was I excited to answer the question!
Here are a handful of the natural history SciArtists I recommended:

And, here are a couple of books that can get you rolling with even more ideas  & inspiring SciArtists:

  • Field Notes on Science and Nature -essays with field note examples from about 10 different people who do field work and use field journals/notebooks.
  • The Heyday of Natural History – great investigation of how the pursuit of natural history became a popular past time and then developed into specialized science
  • I want to read this one: Of Green Leaf, Bird, and Flower: Artists’ Books and the Natural World.

Sketching Tip: Insects

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A draft illustration that didn’t ultimately wind up in the final image (©BGMerkle, 2016)

It’s still summer where I live (though not for long – we’re at 7200′ in elevation!). The bees and wasps are honing in on crab apples falling in my yard and arugula bolting in my garden. A bumble bee I spotted the other day reminded me of some bees I drew a while back, and I went digging for my sketchbook. Continue reading Sketching Tip: Insects

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.