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This article appears in the 2014 no.1 Journal of Natural Science Illustration

— Mary Parrish

The paleo halls at the National Museum of Natural History are undergoing a major renovation. The exhibit Life in the Ancient Seas, which opened in 1990 (see Deck 1992), closed on October 28, 2013; the remaining paleo complex, which opened in stages in the 1980s (for example, see Park 1981), closes April 28, 2014. The new paleo halls will reopen in 2019.

John Gurche’s original acrylic paintings currently enhance the paleo halls in three areas – but only for a few more months. His innovative Tower of Time stands majestically in the main entrance of the exhibit...

This article appears in the 2013 no.4 Journal of Natural Science Illustration

Evolution of an Artist

© Sandy McDermottt 2013

Editor’s Note: This article started out as an expression of Sandy’s personal journey as an artist, but we found it both inspirational and biographical.

Bushwhack. One definition says “to make one’s way through woods by cutting at undergrowth, branches, etc.” This is how I ended up rolling through life. 

Born into a family with an alcoholic father and a mother busy working to pay the bills and raise three children, “nurturing” was virtually non-existent in my rearing. We hear this sort of...

This article appears in the 2013 no.3 Journal of Natural Science Illustration

If you attended the past two conferences, and stopped by the Technique Showcase, you were treated to a display of Field Kits presented by a number of our members. It was obvious that the choice of equipment and supplies is as varied as the artists who use them, and depends on their preferred way of working, locale, subjects, etc. And of course different circumstances may require different kit compositions. All agree, though, that the best way to choose and use your own field kit is to just get out there and try various items out. Keep sketching! We will feature more Field Kits in future issues.


This article appears in the 2013 no.3 Journal of Natural Science Illustration

Every GNSI Education Series Workshop offers an intensive experience in the featured topic and technique, presented by an expert instructor. Education Series workshops range from traditional to digital, and are offered around the USA at least once a year.

It was a rare treat to spend four days with botanical artist Carol Woodin during the 2013 Education Workshop, “Painting Slipper Orchids in Watercolor” May 31st - June 3rd at the beautiful Reiman Gardens in Ames, Iowa. Carol is a wonderful botanical artist whose breathtakingly beautiful artwork has been exhibited and collected around the...

This article appears in the 2013 no.2 Journal of Natural Science Illustration

— Mary Parrish & Julia Coursey


Sydney Prentice (1873-1943) was a paleontological illustrator and a master of the pen and ink thick/thin (eyelash) technique. A collection of his rough sketches, finished art, drawing equipment, zinc engraved printing blocks, and published drawings in the Department of Paleobiology, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution document an historic scientific illustration process and serve as an instructional model for artists working today. The drawings were prepared for Smithsonian cetologist Remington Kellogg (1892-1969). A gallery of...

This article appears in the 2013 no.1 Journal of Natural Science Illustration

— Gail Selfridge


COMmunity . ENvironment . ART (COM.EN.ART) is an artist-in-residency program for natural history artists. Each year five to seven professional or aspiring natural history artists are selected to spend one to two weeks at the Huyck Preserve biological field station and nature preserve. Artists are free to produce artwork in their chosen manner and medium. The institution provides housing and studio space. In exchange, the artist is asked to contribute an original work constituting something appropriate for exhibition and publication. Here is my experience…


This article appears in the Journal of Natural Science Illustration 2012 No. 3 issue

Even before 1981 (when Raiders of the Lost Ark was released) I have been trying (in a unfocused way) to pattern my life after that of Indiana Jones —or at least his predecessor, Allan Quatermain. Both men were, to one degree or another, able to balance the sedentary world of the intellect with the dynamic world of travel and exploration.

Like Dr. Jones, I have some advanced degrees in science-related fields, and teach at a university. I have traveled to unusual and/or exotic locations. I have studied grasses in Kenya, collected scorpions in Jamaica, examined the stomach of a patient in a Michigan OR and...

This article appears in the Journal of Natural Science Illustration 2012 No. 3 issue

Joseph Hooker: Botanical Trailblazer
by Pat Briggs, with an introduction by Jim Endersby

Review by Diane Dorigan

This richly-illustrated little book follows Joseph Hooker’s career as he struggles to raise botany from a Victorian gentleman’s hobby to a recognized science.

Through his world travels and network of collectors, he identified more than 12,000 new plant species, published several illustrated books and journals on plants and eventually followed in his father‘s footsteps as Director of Kew Garden. Charles Darwin, his good friend and colleague, was so impressed with his...

This article appears in the 2012 no.2 Journal of Natural Science Illustration

— by Emily Coren

AS A GUILD, A GROUP OF LIKE-MINDED PROFESSIONALS, we need to promote ourselves both for the benefit of our profession and our own careers. Using social networking tools is a powerful marketing strategy that if used collectively can bring more money and prestige to our field. I am very proud to be a science illustrator and unfortunately most of the world has no idea who we are. People need to know who we are, why we are doing it and why this work is important. I’ll summarize a few of the most popular new media tools, including how to use them and why.


This article is additional material to accompany the Larry Isham Biography in the 2012 no.3 Journal of Natural Science Illustration

— Researched and transcribed by Mary Parrish, Smithsonian Institution.

This is the 1957 job description for the paleo-Illustration position of GNSI Founder Lawrence B. Isham, Department of Geology, U.S.National Museum, Smithsonian Institution. It provides an interesting insight into the requirements for a museum staff illustrator position in the mid-twentieth century.

Official Position Description for Lawrence B. Isham dated 2/27/57


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