Sketching Tip: How to draw 8 specific things, in winter

Coniferous tree silhouettes in native forest preserve (Île-aux-Grues, Quebec)

“Even in winter an isolated patch of snow has a special quality.” -Andy Goldsworthy

But, how do you draw it?!

As anyone who has stared at a wintry scene knows, winter poses a unique set of drawing dilemmas and opportunities.

Some of the hurdles were identified by Harvard students and faculty during ‘Drawn to Science’ and ‘Drawn to the Landscape’ courses I led in January. Thanks to the enthusiasm and curiosity of those students, I had a great excuse to go looking for specific answers. I mined reference books and online resources, and have come up with recommendations for how to meet these winter sketching challenges.

Here’s what we were grappling with in Petersham, Mass. Please do feel free to share more suggestions and references in the comments!

  1. Drawing trees in a forest of trees
  2. Drawing trees, branches, rocks, fences, and other things with snow piled on them.
  3. Drawing ice (on something and on/in water)
  4. Drawing a sunset/clouds without color
  5. Drawing tracks in the snow
  6. Making things look 3-dimensional
  7. How to draw curvy surfaces (such as plant leaves)

__________________________________________________________________ Continue reading “Sketching Tip: How to draw 8 specific things, in winter”

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.


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?”

Resources: Sketching, learning by drawing, and more

Des bateaus et Bassin Louise (10.13.2012)_factory & dry dock_c_sig_rsCross-posted at Advancing EcoComm

*This list is dynamic, and in-development. Feel free to make suggestions (use the comments section or contact me directly) re additional resources and great examples that should be included.



Continue reading “Resources: Sketching, learning by drawing, and more”

Drawn to (natural) History

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?

Making a shadow drawing during a 'Drawn to Natural History' workshohp
Workshop participant creating a shadow drawing

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”