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Drawing for Scientific Illustrations: Technique and Rendering—How To Keep Illustrating When the WiFi Goes Out

Sayner in his OfficeWritten by Donald B. Sayner and Gladys Bennett Menhennet. Edited by Lana Koepke Johnson and Jeanette R. O’Hare, foreword by Paul Mirocha.

— Reviewed by Joel Floyd

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Book Review: The Science Behind Flowers with Dick Rauh

- Reviewed by Camille Werther

Sci of Flowers_D_Rauh_CoverGNSI Past President, Dr. Dick Rauh, has written an invaluable reference book for those who love flowers, those who teach scientific and botanical illustration, and artists who want to deepen their knowledge of how plants work. The author is both an artist and a scientist, having earned a PhD in Plant Sciences at CUNY, and brings his knowledge of both disciplines to the format of the book.

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Corona Cuisine with Scott Rawlins

 

- with Scott Rawlins

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Alexander von Humboldt and the United States: Art, Nature, and Culture By Eleanor Jones Harvey

Review by Theophilus Britt Griswold

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Product Review: Stonehenge Aqua Black

Product Review: Stonehenge Aqua Black

by Gail Guth and Camille Werther

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In Memoriam: Elaine R. S. Hodges

Elaine_Hodges_Office fig. 1Casting our minds back 51 years, we find two young natural science illustrators at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. Carolyn Bartlett Gast and Elaine R. S. Hodges had noticed the lack of connection among staff illustrators and had become the prime movers to bridge the gap. In order to do that, Carolyn planned illustrators’ luncheons with programs related to the media that would be helpful to these previously isolated artists. This served as a means to introduce illustrators to one another and for them to recognize the benefits of coming together. Carolyn found Elaine to be a willing ally and, as Carolyn saw it, Elaine had enthusiasm for the project as well as access to a typewriter—and could type. With that skill they produced elegant invitations and descriptions of the programs. Their success in this endeavor led to the founding of the Guild of Natural Science Illustrators on December 2, 1968, and the connection among natural science illustrators that we’ve all enjoyed for 51 years. Thus began a lifelong effort by Elaine to bring together people who specialized in the art of seeing—the art of perceiving an object, not just looking at it. All of this in the service of science. (Above: Elaine in her office, 1987.)


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Member Spotlight: Rick Simonson

I was born in Minneapolis and grew up on a farm near Benson, Minnesota. Growing up on a farm certainly nurtured my interest in the natural world; I’ve always loved drawing and being outside.

Rick Simonson in StudioMy parents were always very supportive of everything I wanted to do, always encouraging my interests in art and science. Mom would often buy drawing paper and pencils for me; Dad built a great drawing table board that I still use. When I was a little kid, I would often make drawings of different types of animals and staple the sheets together to make simple books. I would create a book about spiders and one about snakes and so on. I never guessed that I would be doing the same type of work as a career.

(Left: In my studio working on a new drawing)

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Product Review: Inktense Pencils

Product Review: Inktense® Pencils by Derwent®
By Minnelli Lucy France

M. L. France Inktense Fig. 1Are you looking for art materials that may not trigger allergies as severely as paints with fumes, or solvents from oils and acrylics? This summer, I was desperate for just that. To this end, I re-evaluated my various art media and in doing so I ventured upon new discoveries and artistic possibilities. Inktense by Derwent was one of my favorite new discoveries and is now rapidly becoming one of my main media.

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Non-Photo Blue Pencils

I’ve only been using them to sketch for about four or five years since I discovered the artwork of John Muir Laws1,2—and became more inspired after attending the 2016 GNSI Conference in Santa Cruz where John was a presenter. I really like the freedom to work rough and loose without later worrying about the blue lines competing with the final sketch. This allows me to keep my final sketch and rough sketches together, i.e., in my sketchbook instead of using a separate sheet of paper (and light box/pad) to create the final piece. You can then digitally remove the blue sketch with Photoshop as I learned from Ikumi Kayama’s excellent demo on her YouTube channel. [The video is called Photoshop Tutorial for Scientific Illustrators: Separating Out Non-Photo Blue from Graphite.]


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Member Spotlight: Mesa Schumacher

Drawing archaeological excavation profiles in Chavin de Huantar, PeruMy artist origin story takes a form I think is fairly common for scientific illustrators. I grew up in Seattle with parents who didn’t study science, and knew little about art, but encouraged my interest in both. In our household, you could maintain a concentrated area of chaos in some corner by saying “don’t touch that, I’m in the middle of a project,” and my brothers and I usually each had several projects going at any given time, ranging from painting to rebuilding machines bought from the thrift store.

My family loved nature, and we enjoyed camping, hiking and outdoor sports. Travel was also a priority, and a few times during childhood we were pulled out of school for months at a time for “sabbaticals,” which profoundly impacted my goals for adult life.

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Member Spotlight: Dino Pulera

Dino PuleraI’ve always been inquisitive and fascinated by nature. I would spend many hours drawing as a child but, despite my interest in nature, I never thought to draw it. Instead, I spent my time reading and drawing Marvel Comics superheroes. Being the son of immigrant parents, I was encouraged to pursue a career that was stable and with a steady income; they didn’t want their son to become a struggling artist. So I set my sights on science with the hopes of going to medical school.

In my senior year in high school, my biology teacher noticed that I used drawings to record my observations in labs and mentioned that some people made a living from illustrating scientific concepts. Looking back now I’m shocked that I didn’t even consider a career in scientific illustration. I guess I thought since this vocation involved art, it would be a hard sell to my parents. So I put it out of my mind. 

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In Memoriam: Diane Dorigan

The first time I met Diane, she was interviewing me for a job. I remember thinking that Diane was really nice. I ended up getting that job, and over the years working with and being mentored by Diane, I found out I was wrong — Diane was not nice.

Diane was passionate, talented and thoughtful. She cared deeply for students. Caring about politics, art, animals, justice, and education, she was well-read and curious, proudly a life-long learner. She cared about her friends and family and lived her words with action, whether it meant standing up for someone, raising her own awareness, advocating for those being marginalized, or volunteering time and expertise to make a difference in her community. Diane was quiet about herself, and a cheerleader for others.

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2016 GNSI Educational Series Workshop: review

GNSI Workshop 2017Ever tried to teach an old dog a new trick? How about teaching two-dimensional traditional artists how to create a three-dimensional sculpture digitally? But everyone who attended the 2016 GNSI Education Series Workshop, Leveling Up In ZBrush®, was up for the challenge. The class was taught by David Killpack, Principal & Creative Director at Illumination Studios who uses ZBrush for science and medical illustration. We gathered at Indiana-Purdue Fort Wayne (IPFW) University in the Walb Union Building on October 29 and 30, 2016, for an immersion experience. The workshop was an intense, challenging, and inspiring two days of solid work, and under Killpack’s tutelage, it did not disappoint.

ZBrush, the brainchild of parent company Pixologic™, is a computer program that allows the user to build 3D and 2D models. Unlike many other programs, ZBrush gives the user the ability to manipulate the form with a mouse or stylus much like a sculptor would work in clay. The high-resolution models created in ZBrush are used by artists primarily in the gaming, movie and animation industry. “ZBrush is even compatible with 3D printers, so you can print your models and bring them to life,” explains a Top Ten Reviews staff writer (12-9-16).

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Member Spotlight: Natalya Zahn

“Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature. It will never fail you.”  
~Frank Lloyd Wright

Natalia Zahn, Portrait by Heather McGrathLike so many artists and so many more scientific illustrators, I have spent my lifetime wondrously inspired by the natural world. The path to my current career in illustration has been somewhat roundabout, and due to a lack of formal training in the sciences, I will likely always suffer from a little impostor syndrome when labeled a scientific illustrator. Nonetheless, nature has been a consistent guide throughout my life and work, and I have found a remarkably broad audience for my particular style. I am grateful daily for my role as an image maker and storyteller of natural histories.

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The Art and Science of Colorful Leaves

I was educated to be an illustrator in the old school tradition, and even though the professors did not come to class wearing academic robes and require us to rise to attention when they entered the room, I am certain they all entertained such fantasies. It was rigorous training, long before computers, but even though digital and electronic advances have greatly impacted the printing process and added new dimensions to illustration, much of what was taught remains relevant. For example, the development of a preliminary drawing is still the first step in creating a scientifically accurate illustration. They may be called working drawings, sketches, final sketches, or preliminary drawings but throughout the literature, they are always identified as the start of the illustration.

In addition to working as a professional illustrator, I also teach drawing classes but the students are not, as we were back at the university, a captive audience agreeing to be there for a lengthy period of time, pay a lot of money, and eventually work in the field. My classes are part of educational outreach programs and the participants do not have either the time for rigorous training or the inclination to become professional illustrators. They are there to learn about nature drawing as a means of enjoyment. 

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Member Spotlight: Kris Kirkeby

Kris Kirkeby; photo © John CarterI love remembering two things from my childhood. One, there was never enough drawing paper and two, I treasured hearing my parents say, “We had a young daughter who liked science and we didn’t quite know what to do with her other than encouraging her.” What a gift!

I am happy for the chance to share with you some of my professional experiences demonstrating things I feel a passion for as well as ones that have impacted my professional life.

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In Memoriam: William Badger Tibbits Ronalds

Bill Ronalds illustrationWilliam B.T. Ronalds III (Bill), of Rockland, Maine (b. July 29, 1943), passed away on Thursday, October 20, 2016.

I first met Bill in the mid-1980s at a GNSI summer workshop at Eagle Hill Institute in Steuben, Maine. He was generous in his nature, funny, and he clearly loved art and sharing his passion for it. He happened to notice I had a picture of my dog with me, and through that, I learned he was a devoted dog owner as well, and our friendship began. 

Bill was a Professor of Fine Arts at St. John’s University in New York for over two decades, and taught illustration, cartooning and drawing. He served as department chairman for 9 years. Teaching was a joy for him and he often maintained relationships with students long after they left the university. He won numerous awards, including a University-wide Excellence in Teaching and Scholarship (2004). One of his works is in the permanent collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

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Book Review: Dining With Dinosaurs

Dining With Dinosaurs book coverGNSI member Hannah Bonner is adding to her already long list of children’s books (see here for an example) with the upcoming Dining with Dinosaurs, A Tasty Guide to Mesozoic Munching. The book takes you on a tour of who ate who (and what) in the Mesozoic. You will learn all about the ancient food web, from enormous long-neck herbivores to teensy blood-drinking fleas. Along the way, you’ll encounter Spinosaurus on the search for fish, raptors hunting in packs, plants telling you how they eat sunlight, and scientists sharing their knowledge in comic-book style interviews. Get ready to be amused, surprised, and maybe even a bit grossed out when you learn what was on the prehistoric menu.

"In Dining With Dinosaurs, the award-winning author of When Fish Got Feet and When Dinos Dawned serves up a full-course meal of mouthwatering Mesozoic food facts. Travel back in time for a tour of the “vores” of the dinosaur world, from mega carnivores to itty-bitty herbivores and everything in between.”

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Interpreting Five Fingers, an interview with Sharon Birzer

An interview by Audrey Freudenberg with artist Sharon Birzer.

Photo of Five Fingers Lighthouse with breaching Humpback whale in the forground, © 2014 Jane RuffinAF: Sharon, Five Fingers Lighthouse in Frederick Sound, S.E. Alaska, is by definition, off the beaten track. How did you find yourself there?

> Photo of Five Fingers Lighthouse with breaching Humpback whale in the foreground, © 2014 Jane Ruffin

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Product Review: Handy iPad Holder

In the course of renovating my studio space, I opted to recycle my old cumbersome morgue files, as I now use the internet regularly for reference photos. Using the iPad is great, but I had no good place to set it to refer to while I work at my drawing table. Putting it on the edge of the drawing table isn't very secure (I've knocked it down several times), it's in the way, and the angle isn't very good. I have a smallish taboret of sorts next to the drawing table that is loaded up with the essentials, no room to prop up an iPad there either.

iPad holderSo I hunted on the internet for a tiny table to wedge in next to the taboret, with no luck (too big, too expensive, or all of the above). Then I came across a flexible, adaptable clamp-on iPad holder that has turned out to be the perfect solution for me.

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