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In Memoriam: Larry Isham

Larry Isham, 1987 (photographer unknown)Larry Isham, scientific illustrator for the Department of Paleobiology, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution for 30 years, died on 18 September 2011 of congestive heart failure at his home with hospice care in Arlington, Virginia. Larry helped found, drafted the first constitution, and was the first president of the Guild of Natural Science Illustrators.

> Larry Isham, 1987 (photographer unknown)

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Using Engineering Principles to Reconstruct Leaf Shape

Abstract

In reconstructing the elements of a convincing prehistoric landscape, some approaches require engineering equations while others depend on subtle nuances of personal observation. The reconstruction of a fossil taxon can be strongly supported with reference to a related extant species. Where no such living plant exists, visualization and imagination are not enough; creating models using structural engineering principles and in-depth field study of living analogs is vital to both accuracy and artistic authenticity. All images copyrighted by Marlene Hill Donnelly, unless otherwise noted.

Introduction

This was a genuine collaboration between art and science: questions about color and form had a significant part in directing research. All plant reconstructions were done for paleobotanist Jennifer McElwain of the Field Museum and University College Dublin. As an ecologist specializing in climate change, Jenny needed accurate landscape reconstructions of Late Triassic and Early Jurassic Greenland. The results provide a strong visual description of the long-term devastation of global warming.

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Book Release: Colorful Edibles! A new ASBA coloring book

Colorful Edibles book coverThe American Society of Botanical Artists (ASBA) has published a wonderful new coloring book, Colorful Edibles. It features 28 pages of delicious line drawings by 26 ASBA members selected from nearly 80 submissions. I am excited to say that two of my drawings have been included! In addition, a number of other Guild of Natural Science Illustrators with ASBA membership are also in the publication.

Contributing artists are: Bobbi Angell, Mary Bauschelt, Beverly Behrens, Irene Blecher, Doreen Bolnick, Silvia Bota, Carol Creech, Carrie DiCostanzo, Jan Denton, Beverly Duncan, Joel Floyd, Keiko Fujita, Gretchen Halpert, Carol Hamilton, Wendy Hollender, Lois Jackson, Jeanne Kunze, Marjorie Leggitt, Derek Norman, Suellen Perold, Kelly Leahy Radding, Maryann Roper, Nancy Savage, Pauline Savage, Judith Scillia and Kelly Sverduk.

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Call for Exhibits: 48th Annual Wild Mushroom Show

The Art Committee of the Puget Sound Mycological Society (PSMS) is pleased to announce our third juried Art Exhibit to be part of the 48th Annual Wild Mushroom Show. The Wild Mushroom Show will be held Saturday, October 15 and Sunday, October 16, 2011, at the Mountaineer's Club, 7700 Sand Point Way NE, Seattle, WA

Prospectus and Entry Forms available at PSMS website
http://www.psms.org/exhibit.html#art

Ten dollars per entry. Entry deadline is September 15, 2011.

Contact: Doug Birkebak [email protected]

5 Reasons Your Camera Won't Steal My Job

This is a summary of the post originally published in Symbiartic, a Scientific American blog, run by Kalliopi Monoyios and Glendon Mellow. Read the full article here.

By far the most common question I get when I tell people that I am a scientific illustrator is one variation (some more tactful than others) of, “They still use illustrators? Why don’t they just photograph everything?” In fact, it’s a great question. Although photography is fantastically impressive and can offer glimpses into worlds both big and small, it has limitations just like any other medium. That’s where we illustrators get to fill in the blanks.

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Call for Exhibits: Focus on Nature XII

Focus on Nature (FON) is a biennial exhibition of scientific, natural and cultural history illustration. Since its inception in 1990, the number and quality of submissions have risen, the range of materials and media have expanded, and the geographic representation of artists has broadened. A five-member jury of scientists and artists selects artwork that accurately represent the subjects, or research results and processes. FON seeks to demonstrate the connection between science and images; stimulate an interest in natural history art among practicing artists, aspiring artists, and the public; and bring natural history illustration to the attention of people who might not otherwise be aware of the important role it plays in research and the dissemination of knowledge.

Each exhibit invites a guest juror from among artists who have previously participated in FON. Past jurors include Louisa Rawle Tine, Michael Rothman, Monika DeVries, Dick Rauh, and Rosemarie Schwab. The guest juror for FON XII is Francesca Anderson. For a full description of FON exhibitions, award winners, exhibition catalogs, as well as the online entry form, please visit the FON website at http://www.nysm.nysed.gov/fon/about/index.html.

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2011 GNSI Educational Series Workshop: review

2011 GNSI Educational Series WorkshopThe “Illustrating Birds” workshop, held April 2-4, 2011, in Kearney, Nebraska, combined all the best elements of a typical GNSI education experience: intensive content that provides a great foundation for illustrative work, wonderful mentoring that promotes accurate and exceptional art, and artistic camaraderie that inspires all who participate.

Workshop participant and Susan W. Frank Scholarship recipient Nancy Gehrig summarized it well: “The Bird Illustration Workshop was a wonderful immersion into the world of birds. I really enjoyed the three days and feel I have a good sense of how to improve my work. The lecture on bird anatomy was a perfect start for me, and I found the sketching of the live birds very challenging. I am pleased to say that I am looking and thinking of birds a bit differently, checking out the anatomy and structure and thinking of the shapes and landmarks—thinking about which feathers I am seeing and that structure lies underneath. Linda Feltner is a marvelous teacher, and I really appreciate her passing on her vast knowledge and experience. It was a great class and a fun group of people. We even practiced figure 8 flapping!”

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[Compiled] 2011 GNSI Annual Conference

2011 conference logo

 

>2011 GNSI annual conference logo by Dave Ehlert

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Call for Exhibits: Nature’s Medicine Chest–Plants, Animals, Minerals

The Greater New York Chapter of the Guild of Natural Science Illustrators in conjunction with Highstead Arboretum of Redding Connecticut requests submissions from members for an exhibition to be held at the Highstead Arboretum from Saturday, September 10 through Saturday, October 29, 2011.

Submission deadline: Monday June 20, 2011.

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GNSI members interviewed by ArtPlantae

Recently three members of the GNSI have been featured by the online magazine ArtPlantae Today.

Bring the Ocean Into Your Classroom

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Copperplate Etching

Copperplate image1It’s all about attention to detail and process— things scientific illustrators thrive on. How could I not be entranced with copperplate etching? But beyond the detail, there is so much more. For all the attentive control that one can impose on the copper, there are variables created by acid, paper, ink, and press that allow surprises both discouraging and rewarding, and each print pulled off the press is a remarkable experience. There is a tactile pleasure to working on copper, and there is the added appeal that comes from being able to rework a plate with more marks and more techniques, and results planned and unplanned enhance the art and satisfy the artist. A fortuitous encounter with a master printmaker provided me with an introduction to the medium and I was hooked as soon as I pulled my first crude print. A few years later two women opened a small print studio in my town. I rent time there, bringing my own paper, copper, and ink, while sharing chemicals, solvents and a printing press in a well-lit ventilated space. Several of us occasional printmakers interact there, learning from, inspiring, and teaching one another.

Creating a print is a labor-intensive process involving many stages, beginning with a sketch. I plan my composition carefully, choosing an image (usually a plant) that I feel intimately connected to and will be content to look at over and over again. My design needs to fit within the confines of a piece of copper and must allow for the fact that the image will be reversed when printed.

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Magic on a Plane: Lenticulars

Not Just for Crackerjacks Anymore

Those little stamp-sized cards in a box of Crackerjacks introduced this technology to many of us. The card bore a surface of fine parallel plastic ridges on the front; a cartoon would move when the card was tilted at varying angles.

The technology of lenticular printing like this has become more sophisticated over the years. There are a variety of visual effects that one can achieve, from 3D to morphing to animation. These effects are set up using image-editing software, such as Adobe Photoshop, that allows for layered files. The resulting product can be a great attention-grabbing device for delivering a science message or for inspiring the imagination of a young scientist.

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You Get What You Pay For

This post was originally published in Symbiartic , a Scientific American blog, and is reproduced here with permission.

Last week, a very prominent artist in the paleontology community somewhat publicly blew a gasket. His tirade started a conversation that has been sorely in need of attention for some time now. At issue is a fundamental conflict of interests: between science and its tradition of cumulative knowledge, and the rights of the artists who contribute so heavily to such knowledge. It’s a conflict that has irked both artists and researchers, but as budgets tighten and opportunities dwindle, artists are increasingly getting the short end of the stick.

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2010 Illustrating Nature Exhibit

With a new home at California State University Monterey Bay (CSUMB), the Science Illustration Program is proud to announce its 21st annual Illustrating Nature exhibit. Formerly held at the Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History, the exhibit will be making its debut at the Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History on May 8, 2010. Fifteen students from three different countries will showcase their illustrations after nine months of intense work and sometimes little sleep. Their efforts capture the world of nature and science with accuracy and beauty, brought to fruition under the guidance of program instructors Ann Caudle, Jenny Keller, and Amadeo Bachar.

As an alumnus of the program and its current teaching assistant, it has been a joy to see the positive changes to the program that have come about as a result of the move to CSUMB. A larger studio allows more space for students to work, and the proximity to sites such as the Monterey Bay Aquarium, Point Lobos State Reserve, and the Big Sur coast (to name a few) have provided new opportunities for sketching and inspiration. And there is still a coffee shop in the nearby library for that needed afternoon pick-me-up.

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Science Illustrator Research Opportunity

Apply to sail on the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (IODP) “Superfast Spreading Rate Crust 4” Expedition 335, aboard the scientific research vessel, JOIDES Resolution. IODP Expedition 335 will be the fourth research expedition of the "Superfast" campaign to drill a deep hole into intact oceanic crust. This expedition will return to Ocean Drilling Program (ODP) Hole 1256D off the coast of Costa Rica to deepen ODP Hole 1256D by a significant distance into cumulate gabbros. Cores and data recovered during the Superfast 4 Expedition will provide new observations that will be used to evaluate and test models of the accretion and evolution of the oceanic crust.

Deadline to apply is 21 February. Expedition dates: 13 April-3 June 2011.

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GNSI Members start program at the Yale Peabody Museum

Yale Peabody MembersFour Connecticut GNSI artists: Dorie Petrochko from Oxford, Susannah Graedel from Madison, Cindy Gilbane from West Haven, and Jan Prentice from Branford, have launched a new art program at the Yale Peabody Museum Education Center’s West Campus location in Orange, CT.

The newly formed group: Connecticut Natural Science Illustrators (CTNSI) offers beginning, intermediate, and advanced levels of drawing and painting of natural science subjects and habitat studies. Spring semester classes begin February 9 and continue until June 4, 2011. Courses offered are Fundamentals of Natural Science Illustration, Botanical Illustration in Watercolor, Pen and Ink: Basic Techniques, Pen and Ink: Natural Science Specimens, Drawing and Painting Birds, Natural Science Illustration in Mixed Media, and Botanical Oil Painting.

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Painting with Gouache

Editor’s note: The 2010 reissue of this article is a modification of the original. Two of the illustrations are replaced with different subject matter for purposes of better color reproduction. All illustrations in the original print edition are in black and white.

The field of Scientific Illustration often demands the production of highly detailed, accurate renderings that must survive the less-than-perfect world of photographic reproduction. The collaborative efforts between artist and researcher/author require the illustrator to adopt a most flexible approach so as to accommodate the likely revisions that are inherent in such arrangements. Additionally, it is the nature of the illustration field to impose deadlines that preclude the use of time-consuming approaches and techniques, favoring instead those media that can be handled with relative speed. Gouache is a medium that addresses these concerns and is an excellent choice for scientific illustrators finding themselves challenged by these considerations. Gouache is perfectly suited for precise, detail-oriented paintings in both full color and black and white. Its predictable tonal quality, vibrant hues, and fast drying time combine to make it a popular choice among designers and commercial illustrators. Opaque qualities allow for the layering of details that permits multiple revisions, and because of the picture's flat surface it is easily reproduced photo-mechanically.

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Call for Exhibit: Morton Arboretum

GNSI Exhibit at the Morton Arboretum (Feb. 15 - June 4, 2011), open to all GNSI members in good standing.

Subject matter: all scientific illustration, no medical illustration

Please include a brief description of the work and the reason it was created.

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Scanning, scanning, scanning

This installment of Ripped from the List reviews three recent listserv threads that dealt with techniques for converting traditional art to digital media, preliminary considerations, and subsequent manipulations of the scanned images.

Scanning Large Artwork

Rick L. Simonson: Does anyone have a good method for getting large (maybe 24” x 36”) traditional artwork into the computer? Scanning seems like a good idea, unfortunately, large format scanners are quite expensive. I suppose I could scan it multiple times and stitch it together in Photoshop. Or send it to a large format scanning service?

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Call For Exhibits: 2011 Margaret Flockton Award

The Award Committee of the Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney has announced details for the upcoming 2011 Margaret Flockton Award and Exhibition.

Illustrators are invited to submit one or two original scientific botanical illustrations in black and white by close of business Friday 4th Feb 2011. Prize money:1st prize—$5000 AUD, 2nd prize—$2000 AUD, plus three Highly Commended awards will be presented upon the opening of the exhibition on Thursday 31 March 2011.

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