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An Evolving Career in Scientific Illustration: Part II

You may remember the first installment of my story (included in the Journal of Natural Science Illustration 2013, number 1). After attending the GNSI Summer Workshop at Pierce Cedar Creek Institute in Hastings, MI, I realized Science Illustration was the career for me. I finished my undergraduate studies at the University of Toronto and enrolled in the Science Illustration program at Monterey Bay. Now on to Part II!

After my time in the Science Illustration program in Monterey Bay, California, I completed two internships—one in the Herpetology Department at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, Canada, and the other in the Entomology Lab at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C. At the same time, I worked on a project illustrating an article on cardiovascular health associated with Scientific American and continued to accept commissions and develop my portfolio. That summer, I decided to try to pursue illustrating science in the even more specialized field of medical art. I ended up applying to the MSc in Medical Art program at the University of Dundee, Scotland, after researching a number of schools around the world. With a renowned Centre for Anatomy and Human Identification, the University of Dundee boasted a Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher Education—what better opportunity to study and travel to the U.K.? Before I knew it, I was accepted and I was flying across The Pond to my new home for a year. 

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Call for Exhibits: California Islands Symposium

The California Islands Symposium Art Exhibition will be held October 3 – 7, 2016 in Ventura, California during the Symposium and then moved to the Santa Barbara Botanical Garden in Santa Barbara, California, where it will be on display for one month, from October 9 – November 6, 2016.

Artists are invited to enter original artwork in any two-dimensional medium that reflects the beauty and uniqueness of the California Islands. One source of the flora found on the islands is https://www.nps.gov/chis/learn/nature/plants.htm. Submissions are not limited to the plant life but can include marine life, shells, birds and fauna. The only qualifier for content is that the subject matter must be connected to the California Channel Islands. Many of the plants and animals that grow, live or visit the Channel Islands also are on the mainland. 

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Explaining Complex Problems Through Interactive Science Illustration

The web creates a unique forum for storytelling that is well suited for explaining complex problems. Science illustration, when combined with interactivity, opens up unique possibilities for presenting clear, digestible bits of engaging information. As the interactive world becomes increasingly sophisticated, so do possibilities for presenting visual content in ways that offer alternative paths to traditional storytelling. We are seeing exciting developments in digital storytelling through online newspapers and magazines, as they experiment with interactive infographics and data visualization charts to communicate content.

What is digital storytelling? Simply put, digital storytelling (also referred to as online documentaries or interactive storytelling) entails designing a linear story within a non-linear environment. In traditional media such as books, magazines, or even movies, content is structured with a clear beginning, middle, and end, and the audience is passive, only their attention is required. However, in the online world, the audience controls the path of their experience. The nature of the online world fosters participation and requires user input. 

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Why Illustrations are Important in Learning

GNSI member Vicky Earle has produced an animated video to explain why illustrations are important in learning. The video and artwork were created by Vicky, using Adobe Illustrator and VideoScribe.

Vicky says: "This video was done to highlight the longstanding value and importance of using illustrations for teaching and learning, as well as to bring attention to the role of science illustrators. Research has shown when facts are combined with interesting images, people are much more likely to understand, remember and share the material with others. A good visual will motivate learners and improve comprehension."

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Call for Volunteers: Social Media Mavens, 2016 GNSI Annual Conference

Interested in helping the world see what a GNSI conference is all about?  If you have social media experience and would like to work with the GNSI Social Media Committee, contact Diana Marques or Fiona Martin to express your interest. Find a more detailed description of what's involved and the perks below.

Social Media Assistant for the GNSI Annual Conference Core Conference, Santa Cruz CA, July 3-6

So you’re interested in helping the world see what a GNSI conference is all about? Great! We are looking for someone who:

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Pocket Handbook for the Twitterilliterate

During the first week of March, the Twittersphere becomes an orgy of science-related art as the Scientific American Symbiartic blogging team (consisting of Glendon Mellow, Kalliopi Monoyios, and Katie McKissick) lead the charge for their annual #sciart tweetstorm. Some brave GNSI members took the opportunity to see what Twitter was all about with varying degrees of satisfaction. If you're still scratching your head about what all the Twitter fuss is about, this article is for you.

So what exactly is Twitter? Perhaps you have the impression that it's a way for you to update everyone who cares (is that nobody?) about what you had for breakfast, who just flipped you off in the parking lot, why you desperately need a coffee, etc. If that's your impression, I don't blame you for ignoring it! But maybe you've heard friends and colleagues who appear slightly more "in-the-know" when it comes to social media wax poetic about the power of Twitter. You trust these folks and are intrigued, but good grief, is it just another instant messaging thingie? A group texting tool? A Facebook wannabe with the weird constraint of 140 characters?

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In Memoriam: Carolyn Gast

Portrait of Carolyn Gast, painted by her husband, Michael Gast in 1984. Photo by Michael Nicholson.Carolyn Bartlett Gast, the primary founder of the Guild of Natural Science Illustrators, passed away in September 2015. Carolyn may have left us, but certainly, her efforts to establish an organization to bring scientific illustrators together has flourished beyond her expectations since GNSI became a reality in 1968.

> Portrait of Carolyn Gast, painted by her husband, Michael Gast in 1984. Photo by Michael Nicholson.

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GNSI-DC chapter: Disorder is Systematically Organized

A video recording of Sandra Schachat's lecture for the GNSI-DC Chapter is now available on the GNSI's YouTube Channel and below.

Sandra R. Schachat's work combines insect evolution and visual evidence in various ways: she has studied the evolution of moth and butterfly wing patterns, has examined fossil leaves for evidence of insect feeding, and has explored how the history of art can be used to understand evolving societal attitudes toward insects.

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Book Review: Nature Mandalas

Leopard Frog Leaping, Tim Phelps

There is no doubt that Tim Phelps is a very talented natural science artist: a quick glance at his faculty website at Johns Hopkins University reveals meticulously accurate illustrations of the dog musculoskeletal system, alternative routes for venous outflow from the human brain, techniques for carotid artery anastomosis, and others. 

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Call for Volunteers: Book Reviewers

From time to time GNSI is asked to review books that relate to science illustration. We are looking to compile a list of people to contact to conduct these reviews. What’s the catch? You need to read the book and write up your review for the Journal and the web in a timely fashion, but you get to keep the book(s) for your library! 

We have general guidelines for reviews. If you have time to read a book thoughtfully, and feel comfortable writing up your thoughts, we’d appreciate that you add your name to the list. We’ll then assign books as they come in. We will try to connect books with volunteers’ areas of interest; otherwise, we’ll do random selection so everyone has a chance to review. Please contact Gail directly at [email protected], and let her know your particular area of expertise or interest (botanical, zoological, paleo, art education, general illustration, or ...???)

GNSI member Ikumi Kayama speaks about web marketing strategies

Ikumi Kayama was recently interviewed by Petovera, a web marketing firm, on her web marketing strategies for landing new clients. Ikumi is the GNSI Board Recording Secretary, a TEDx speaker, and owner of Studio Kayama; she specializes in medical illustration. Check out the interview for web marketing ideas.

https://petovera.com/niche-marketing-example-tedx-interview/

Call for Exhibits: Exploring the World of Birds

The GNSI-Great Lakes Chapter invites all GNSI members living in states that border the Great Lakes to exhibit this spring at the Brushwood Center at Ryerson Woods, Riverwoods, Illinois. The Brushwood Center seeks to nurture art, nature, and discovery in its mission of environmental education.

Prospectus

Subject matter can include birds, nests, eggs, bird-related plants, etc.  All media and styles will be considered. Brushwood Center hosts six art exhibitions a year that explore the intersection of art, science, and nature.  They exhibit work in all visual media (photography, sculpture, painting, mixed media, drawing and video) that is inspired by, critiques or reflects on the natural world. 

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Call for Volunteers: 2016 GNSI Annual Conference

The Santa Cruz Conference team is making wonderful progress getting this conference together on very short notice. Your help is needed. If you would like to know more contact Conference Chair Robin Carlson: [email protected]

Volunteer Positions Open

Auction - organize donations at the conference, supervise auction setup, keep records of donations and sales. A busy job, but a relatively short one!

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Call for Exhibits: Focus on Nature XIV

Image by: BOBBI ANGELL Bottle Gourd (Lagenaria siceraria) Etching, (copper plate) on paper, 2011  Marlboro, Vermont, USAFocus on Nature XIV will run from December 3, 2016, through April 9, 2017, at the Roger Tory Peterson Institute (RTPI) in Jamestown, New York. We are very excited and honored to collaborate with this institute that is dedicated to continuing the tradition of natural history illustration. The RTPI mission is to “honor and continue … to foster understanding, appreciation, and protection for the natural world”. RTPI is a beautiful facility with exhibition space of high standard. To learn more about RTPI, visit: http://rtpi.org/

> Bottle Gourd (Lagenaria siceraria), Etching, (copper plate) on paper, 2011. Bobbi Angell, Marlboro, Vermont, USA

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Digitizing the Collection: evaluating photogrammetry

Increased demand for access to museum collections is driving a trend toward specimen digitization. Three dimensional (3D) digital models provide researchers with rapid on-line access and augment publications. The availability of accurate 3D digital models reduces the need for museums to loan specimens, and thus reduces the risk of loss and/or damage.

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Mapping Our Future: GNSI Strategic Planning Initiative

From time to time, it’s a good exercise for us all to sit back and “take stock”: who we are, where we are, where are we going, where do we want to go? It’s a good exercise for organizations and businesses as well; it gets the fancy (but apt) title of Strategic Planning. The goal is to map the status and health of the organization, and to plan, as much as possible, what needs to be done to keep the group healthy and progressing in our fast-changing world.

To this end, the Board of the GNSI, along with several members-at-large who have recently shared their thoughts and ideas about the future of the GNSI and our profession, has launched a Strategic Planning Initiative. Our goal is to take a good, hard, honest look at where we are, and where we want to be to best support our members and our profession.

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The Power of Images

Homophones by Bruce Worden“Bruce, you’ve demonstrated so clearly the power of images! Can you/will you gather some of your favorites for a Journal article?” How could any illustrator resist a request like that? Even if it does mean discussing images that are, at best, only tangentially related to the natural sciences. 

In 2011 I launched a blog in which I illustrate pairs of words that are spelled differently but pronounced the same (homophones). I post a new pair of images every week, so it’s called Homophones, Weakly. Get it? Har har. 

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2016 Margaret Flockton Award

The Margaret Flockton Award commemorates the contribution Margaret Flockton made to Australian scientific botanical illustration. The Foundation & Friends of the Botanic Gardens, as a major fundraising organization and supporter of the Royal Botanic Gardens & Domain Trust, is pleased to sponsor the Margaret Flockton Award for Excellence in Scientific Botanical Illustration.

In the bicentennial year of the Royal Botanic Gardens, the Margaret Flockton Award Exhibition will be held in the Joseph Maiden Theatre from Saturday, April 9 to Sunday, May 1, 2016.

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Watercolor on Canvas

watercolor on canvasAs a watercolor artist, I have always wanted to create art that could be handled in the same way as an oil or acrylic (i.e., framed and hung without glass or backing). Works on paper are beautiful, and I love the way the paper and pigment interact. But when it comes to creativity, I want to stretch the boundaries so as to have as many options for expression as possible. Another consideration, for me, is the apparent value perception through which the general public views works on canvas versus those on paper. Those of us who work in the art field know that watercolor paintings are just as durable as works on canvas. We see plenty of evidence of these watercolors in museums, with over 500-year-old illuminated manuscripts, masters’ watercolor paintings, naturalist, and botanical paintings that are holding up just as well as oils. Despite this, the popular perception is that works on canvas or wood panels are more valuable, and the “Sold” price for canvas vs. paper (as reported by curators) reflects this perception.

The Ultimate Inspiration

Earlier this year, I visited the J Paul Getty Museum’s hosted exhibition, J.W. Turner: Painting Set Free. Within this exhibit, which included approximately 50 paintings on loan from the Tate Gallery and various private collections, there was a room of about twenty rare watercolors. While examining these paintings in great detail, I was amazed at the way Turner handled watercolor on paper much the same as oils on canvas. How did he achieve these visually stunning paintings?

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Call for Exhibits: Fauna and Flora Illustrata

Red Oak: Quercus rubra Watercolor on Vellum Wendy BrockmanThe Minnesota Landscape Arboretum (MLA) and the Andersen Horticultural Library (AHL) are excited to begin a long-term project, Flora and Fauna Illustrata (FFI), to document, in scientifically accurate fine art, the plant and animal species that occur at the Arboretum.

> Red Oak, Quercus rubra, Watercolor on Vellum, Wendy Brockman

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