California has more native plants than any other state, most of which are endemic to California (only found here). What’s more, over 1/3 of our native plants are also considered rare due to human development, climate change, habitat fragmentation, rare habitats, and other factors.
During this collaborative program where science meets art, we’ll learn about human relationships with nature from two rare plant lovers who engage with California’s unique flora in their own unique ways.
Barnali Ghosh, an immigrant storyteller and California landscape architect, has taken the native plant world by storm with a series of fashion self-portraits bridging home and homeland — re-creations of California native flowers, using fabrics and dance forms from India.
Amy Patten works with community scientists to document rare plant populations throughout California through her role as Rare Plant Treasure Hunt Manager with the California Native Plant Society. She also captures the flora and fauna around her through the art of photography.
Barnali Ghosh has featured several of Amy Patten’s photographs of native plants in her self-portraits.
Conservation and recovery of threatened and endangered species requires more than bringing individual organisms back from the brink. It also requires the restoration and recovery of ecological relationships that allow all organisms in an ecosystem to survive and thrive.
During this lecture with artist Megan Gnekow, we will explore how understanding and communicating food webs and other ecological relationships can help put some favorite (and famous!) creatures into context. We’ll also learn how creative use of science illustration can help tell these stories.
This program is in support of our science illustration exhibit, The Art of Nature, on view online and in-person.
With formal training in a wide variety of media, Megan’s current work focuses primarily on honoring the fine details of the world and depicting the relationships between organisms in a wide variety of ecosystems. Her great passion is bringing people back to connection with the natural world through artistic experiences. She also volunteers for Resource Management at Pinnacles National Park, where she continues her training as an amateur naturalist. Megan spends most of her free time exploring the vast collection of ecosystems we call California.
Learn how to get to know a rose in order to illustrate it. We’ll explore native and heritage roses and observe their particular characteristics. During this online lecture, Maria Cecilia Freeman will demonstrate how to draw and paint petals, leaves, and other parts that help distinguish a rose. Once you draw the identifying parts of a particular rose, you’ll recognize it wherever you see it.
Maria Cecilia (Cissy) Freeman gardens, paints, and teaches in Aptos, where she finds or grows many of her plant subjects. Her work includes scientific illustration and botanically accurate fine art, often combining the two in graphite and watercolor studies. She takes a special interest in portraying native plant species with a view to their preservation, and she particularly loves drawing and painting heritage and species roses.
Her “Rose Studies” watercolors and drawings have appeared in solo exhibitions in Spello, Italy, at the Horticultural Society of New York, and at the San Francisco Botanical Garden. Her work has been included in juried exhibitions in the U.S. and Europe, and numerous publications. She is a member of the Northern California Society of Botanical Artists and the Guild of Natural Science Illustrators. To see her artwork, visit http://www.mcf-art.com.
We’re celebrating 33 years of exhibiting science illustration at the Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History with an online opening reception for this year’s The Art of Nature.
Featuring staff exhibit curators Liz Broughton (Visitor Services Manager), Marisa Gomez (Public Programs Manager), and Felicia Van Stolk (Executive Director), as well as artists Sami Chang and Megan Gnekow (artist curator).
Where does illustrator end, and infographer begin? How does data visualization fit in? And what does science have to say about the design decisions we make? With the goal of strengthening connections between communities, Jen hopes to get folks thinking about what they can learn from — and teach to — different visual sub-disciplines within the broader orb of science communication.
We are excited to learn about the role of science illustration in data visualization as we continue to feature our virtual exhibition of science illustration, The Art of Nature.
About the speaker: Jen Christiansen is senior graphics editor at Scientific American, where she art directs and produces illustrated information graphics and data visualizations. She completed undergraduate studies in geology and art at Smith College, then happily merged the two disciplines in the scientific illustration graduate program at UC Santa Cruz. She began her publishing career in NY at Scientific American in 1996, moved to DC to join the art department of National Geographic, spent four years as a freelance science communicator, then rejoined the SciAm team in 2007. She writes on topics ranging from reconciling her love for art and science, to her quest to learn more about the pulsar chart on Joy Division’s Unknown Pleasures album cover.
Patricia Larenas loves seeds. With a background in horticulture and art, her work aims to inspire appreciation for this life stage of plants. She also works directly with seeds, helping others grow edible gardens and save seeds. This project explores the germination and growth of a Hopi red lima bean (Phaseolus lunatus). The following is written by Patricia.
I’ve drawn three beans to show the diversity of the seed coat color: 1. solid red-brown, 2. red-brown with dark streaks and spots, and 3. mostly dark with red-brown streaks and spots. The diversity in color of the beans is an indication of the genetic diversity in this variety. This is an advantage because genetic diversity means that this bean could have more ability to adapt to different environments.
For example, lima beans usually like to grow in hot areas like the Southwestern and Southern USA . My garden in the Bay Area is cooler than those areas, so with its ability to adapt, this bean may do just fine in my garden under cooler conditions. By growing it for a few years and saving seeds from the most vigorous and productive plants, I can create my own land race that is adapted to growing well in my area.
All viable seeds are alive. By viable I mean they have the ability to grow once they germinate. Conditions that kill seeds are: exposure to warm or hot temperatures, old age, exposure to light, humidity that can cause mold to grow or seeds to rot, and diseases. Seeds can stay dormant, but alive, while they are waiting for the proper conditions that will induce them to germinate. Germination is the process by which a seed begins to sprout and develop into a seedling. The proper conditions for seeds to germinate vary greatly for different types of seeds and they have to do with temperature, moisture, and exposure to light or darkness. Additionally, some seeds need a period of exposure to cold, usually about the temperature of your refrigerator (called stratification) before they germinate. This could be from a few weeks to a few months. Other seeds need to have their seed coats abraded or damaged (called scarification) a bit so that moisture can penetrate to begin the germination process. Vegetable seeds rarely need stratification or scarification, but some flower seeds do.
Lima bean seeds need soil temperatures of at least 750 F to germinate (up to 900F), besides moisture (water). As shown in my drawings, first, the root radicle grows out of the seed, and the seed coat begins to retract as the bean swells with growth. The seed leaves, or cotyledons, are the two halves that make up the bean seed, these start to open up and the true leaves grow out from in between them, while the radicle develops into a stem and roots. The little seed is now a seedling ready to grow into a full sized plant that will flower and make lima beans!
These pieces are a part of Life on Toast — a window into how I view the world. Essentially a one-panel comic, it is delineated into four frames. I had been enjoying other webcomics on Instagram and my favorites would show one panel at a time, with the fifth image being the whole comic. I designed Life on Toast for this medium. It followed from observations and doodles in my sketchbook, many with puns added but also bringing in elements of the scientific illustration work I’ve done and daily encouragements. Unlike other webcomics, I wanted mine to be hand-drawn and hand-painted, yet shared electronically. Little did I know how important this would become once shelter-in-place was established. On many days, this tiny window is my only contact with the world.
For years I have taken photos — many of them blurry or cluttered — as a way of keeping track of nature I see on hikes and dog walks, or the growth in my garden, when my sketchbook is out of reach. I use these reference photos later as part of Life on Toast and other art, like the piece I have in this year’s The Art of Nature exhibit. I draw the items I have collected over the years and keep around my house — rocks, bones, paint tubes — the detritus of my life as inspiration. Art can be made anywhere out of the things you see in the world around you. Take a look inside my electronic window and share my Life on Toast.
Diane T Sands describes herself as “illustrator, librarian, writer, nerd.” Explore her website and the virtual exhibit, The Art of Nature, featuring her piece Common Buckeye (Junonia coenia).
Witness the making of one of the pieces in our exhibit, The Art of Nature, while exploring the natural history of the red fox (Vulpes vulpes) and learning how to use grisaille and watercolor in your own science illustrations.
Art is essential to increasing scientific knowledge and inspiring conservation. This lecture from Andrea Dingeldein, a local artist and educator featured in the Museum’s 2020 exhibition of science illustration, The Art of Nature, explores science illustration, both historical and contemporary, and its importance as a tool to observe and connect with nature.
Andrea Dingeldein is a marine biologist, naturalist, and general lover of nature. Andrea’s focus is in marine illustration, but she enjoys drawing insects, reptiles, and any other creepy-crawlies she can get her hands on. She specializes in illustrations for peer-reviewed science articles and has published illustrations in Ecological Modeling and Bulletin of Marine Science. Other clients include NC Department of Marine Fisheries, Friday Harbor Laboratories, and Western Society of Naturalists. Explore her work.