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Member Spotlight Mary Ellen Taylor

Member Spotlight: Mary Ellen Taylor

1_Member Spotlight ME Taylor_ Mangrove FinchWhen considering my circuitous career path toward botanical and nature art over the past 40 years, I clearly see that—apart from quantum leaps, serendipities, and sheer determination along the way, the seed was well and truly planted during my time living in the Galápagos Islands. Witnessing first-hand the extraordinary forms, colors, and sizes that the flora and fauna evolved into—ensuring survival on these inhospitable islands 600 miles off the coast of Ecuador—engraved on my soul a powerful respect and awe for them. My view of the world we live in and our humble place as human beings was changed forever. Growing up, I was always “arty” and influenced by my father and grandmother, spending creative summers painting or building projects and tasting raw nature in rural Vermont. I went on to pursue Fine Art and a stint of Graphic Art before making my way to London for my semester abroad. I felt I had come home in England’s green and pleasant land. After nearly three years, my visa expired and I never finished at the university... but I knew I would return...somehow.

< The endemic mangrove finch (Camarhynchus heliobates) and red mangrove (Rhizophora mangle) on the Galapagos Islands.

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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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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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Building Dinosaurs with Michael Holland

A new GNSI video is posted for your viewing pleasure!
Michael Holland_ Building DinosaursArtist Michael Holland discusses the materials, techniques, and knowledge he uses at the intersection of art and science to create skeletal reconstructions of dinosaurs.  Images of various processes are shown, and he presents work in progress - a famous and iconic Smithsonian dinosaur that has been on display for over a century - as you’ve never seen him (or her) before! 
Michael Holland has created exhibit features for a number of natural history museums, including the Museum of the Rockies, the U.C. Berkeley Museum of Paleontology, the Natural History Museum of Utah, and the Carnegie Museum of Natural History.  He recently finished his work on the Deep Time exhibition at the Smithsonian.
View the full-length talk on the GNSI YouTube Channel.

GNSI President's Message

Sara Taliafero Presidents MessageDearest GNSI Members,

As we navigate through a season that in North America includes the winter solstice and day with the shortest span of daylight in our calendar year, I am in a reflective mood. Since accepting the honor of serving as President of the Guild this summer, I have enjoyed the challenges and rewards inherent in collaborating with the diverse and rich leadership and expertise that all of you bring to this organization. My every meeting and correspondence has deepened my respect for each of you and broadened my hope for what we are and what we can become.

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GNSI Service Awards

The Guild of Natural Science Illustrators has three awards with which it can recognize the dedication and long-time efforts of its members. These are:

The Distinguished Service Award (DS): Established in 1994, this award is given to long-term dedicated workers, those who have put in countless hours and have usually served both on the Board and have coordinated conferences or portions of conferences. The award is given after several years of ongoing service on the part of the member.

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AAAS Colloquium "Visualizing Science: The Art of Communicating Science"

AAAS auditoriumOn September 18th GNSI members and a Smithsonian botanist participated in a panel discussion on the critical role of art used in the pursuit of science. The participants were (GNSI members) Sally Bensusen, Alice Tangerini, Britt Griswold, Diana Marques, along with (botanist) Kenneth Wurdack.

In conjunction with the GNSI 50th anniversary exhibit “Visualize: Art Revealing Science” that was on display at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) gallery, it was a well-attended event that gave all the panelists an opportunity to talk about their careers and about visual science communication at large. It was streamed on Facebook live and the video can be accessed here.

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How Art Makes Better Science

Artistic reconstruction of Habelia optata by Joanna LiangMaeve Doyle, of the Association of Medical Illustrators (AMI), has written a good article about the process of reconstruction of an invertebrate at the Burgess Shale and the importance of art and the artist in science.

> Artistic reconstruction of Habelia optata by Joanna Liang.

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Alice Tangerini featured in the Smithsonian Magazine

Alice TangeriniLongtime GNSI member Alice Tangerini is featured in the July issue of the Smithsonian Magazine.

Alice Tangerini’s botanical illustrations all begin the same way: with a seemingly simple line drawing, in which she explores a plant’s features—leaves, seed, stem, perhaps a flower or two. Next, she uses a microscope to investigate her specimen’s tiny hairs and veins, recreating their likeness in delicate lines with the pressure-sensitive pen of an architect or engineer drafter. Tangerini has adopted the tools and the vision of both the artist and scientist for her work, which is, as she describes it, “art in the service of science".

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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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Database of Science Illustrators 1450-1950

Visit the Database of Science Illustrators 1450-1950, active since 2011, to find information about over 10400 illustrators active in natural history, medicine, and technology, in more than 100 countries, between 1450 and 1950.

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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Congratulate GNSI members in the FON XIV Exhibit

Focus on Nature XIV posterCongratulations to ALL the GNSI members* who claimed a spot in the Focus On Nature XIV exhibit. And congratulation to those who received a Jury award!
http://exhibitions.nysm.nysed.gov/fon/exhibitions/index.html

 

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GNSI Member Alice Tangerini is profiled in Capital Community News

Alice TangeriniLongtime GNSI member Alice Tangerini discusses botanical illustration with writer Cheryl Corson in a local Washington DC news outlet:

The West Wing of the Smithsonian’s Department of Botany in the National Museum of Natural History houses 4.8 million dried pressed plants, the oldest of which was collected in the 1500s. Capitol Hill resident Alice Tangerini has drawn well over 1,000 of them in her role as the museum’s botanical illustrator. Her illustrations appear in scientific journals published worldwide and may be seen in the Smithsonian’s online Catalog of Botanical Illustrations: http://botany.si.edu/botart/artistGallery.cfm?myArtist=Tangerini,%20A.

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Artist At Sea Residency Program

Kirsten CarlsonGNSI Member Kisten Carlson found out about the Artist-at-Sea resident program sponsored by the Schmidt Ocean Institute from a GNSI notice of opportunity. She jumped on it and now finds herself on a multi-week cruise in the Pacific Ocean, helping the mission of science by creating visuals and communicating about the work of the ship's crew!

You can follow her journey of exploration on her twitter account and dedicated Blog here: https://twitter.com/kirstencarlson
http://www.artsyfishy.com/post/156041206890/artist-at-sea-get-ready

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Emily S. Damstra Artwork in new Toronto Gallery

I’m excited to announce that some of my artwork will be part of the inaugural exhibit of the brand new Toronto art gallery and classroom Nature Art Studio, located at 2837 Dundas Street West in Toronto. About a dozen of my original paintings and drawings will be exhibited, including my recent goldenrod watercolors. The reception for this exhibit is January 28 from 1:00 to 5:00 PM; all are invited!

The accomplished botanical artist Nellie Sue Potter and her husband Steven are responsible for this new venture, and the first exhibit will include her work as well as paintings by master bird artist Barry Kent MacKay. This is a very unique gallery and I’m excited to see what other artists are featured in the months and years to come.

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