Field Biology and Art: Snakes, Frogs, and Psychedelic Bioscapes with Kevin Wiseman

Science and art have a very old and interesting relationship, with each informing and inspiring the other. In this talk, Kevin Wiseman, featured artist in 2022’s The Art of Nature exhibit, will share his early inspirations, decades-long studies on snakes and frogs, scientific illustrations, and how a meeting with a Shuar shaman inspired a deep reflection on fossil fuels and climate change.

This program is part of our series in support of the 34th annual science illustration exhibit, The Art of Nature.


About the Artist

Kevin Wiseman is a professional herpetologist and artist and grew up in the Bay Area. He worked as a scientific illustrator at the Essig Museum of Entomology at U.C. Berkeley, where he got his undergraduate degree in Integrative Biology with the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology. He worked for many years at the Department of Herpetology at the California Academy of Sciences where he is currently a Field Associate. Mr. Wiseman has spent over 20 years conducting research on Foothill Yellow-legged Frogs (Rana boylii), California Kingsnakes (Lampropeltis getula californiae), and Sierra Gartersnakes (Thamnophis couchii). Mr. Wiseman leads a 4-day field workshop, Reptiles and Amphibians of the Sierra Nevada, at the Sierra Nevada Field Campus for SF State University.

Website: kevinwisemanart.com
Instagram: @wiseman_art

Drawing Dinosaurs: Science Illustration and Paleontology with Hannah Caisse

Think of your favorite dinosaur. TyrannosaurusTriceratopsParasaurolophus? If you visualize it in your mind, you might be surprised to realize that you just thought of an illustration! Because we can’t time travel, science illustrators have to visually render extinct species by combining paleontology and art to make “paleoart.” During this online program, science illustrator Hannah Caisse will discuss the history of paleoart, demonstrate research and artistic processes, muse over hot topics in the paleontology field, and answer questions about art or dinosaurs. This program will be appropriate for young dinosaur lovers and paleoart fans in general.

This program is part of our series in support of the 34th annual science illustration exhibit, The Art of Nature.


  • A recording and follow-up resources will be shared with registrants after the program.
  • This program will be in English.
  • This program will attempt to meet the needs of younger participants, but all levels of understanding are welcome to join and a variety of complexity will be explored.
  • We will be using the webinar format, meaning that participants’ video and mic functions will be disabled.
  • Reasonable accommodation requests can be made by emailing events@santacruzmuseum.org.

About Hannah Caisse

When not working at a paleontology museum, dusting off fossils and enthusiastically teaching kids about the history of life, Hannah works to improve her techniques and skills in science illustration. She derives inspiration from native fauna, deep time, and even familiar backyard critters and plants. Infusing her drawings with her infectious admiration for the natural world, she always strives to cultivate wonder and engagement from her audience.

Website: www.hannahcaisse.com
Instagram: @synap_sida

Art for Conservation with Megan Gnekow

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.

Megan Gnekow

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. 

Art+Science Research to Understand Joshua Tree Species Interactions Under Climate Change with Juniper Harrower

Joshua trees are threatened by the changing climate and may be extinct from their namesake park within a century. In this talk, Dr. Juniper Harrower will share her multimedia art and ecological research practice that investigates the impacts of climate change on Joshua trees and their critical symbiotic partners — a clever moth pollinator and an underground community of mycorrhizal fungi.

Join us to learn about how she brings together years of species monitoring in Joshua Tree National Park, DNA sequencing, experimental painting, animation, and an online dating site to meet Joshua trees!

This program is in support of our science illustration exhibit, The Art of Natureon view online and in-person at the Museum.

About the Artist

Specializing in species interactions under climate change, Dr. Juniper Harrower works across disciplines as both an ecologist and an artist. She uses rigorous science methods and a multimedia art practice to investigate human influence on ecological systems while seeking solutions that protect at-risk species and promote environmental justice.

Website: www.Juniperharrower.com
Instagram: @Juniperharrower

The Art of Nature Events

How a Botanical Artist Looks at a Rose with Maria Cecilia Freeman

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.

This program is in support of our science illustration exhibit, The Art of Nature, on view online and in-person at the Museum.

About the Artist

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.

The Art of Nature Events

Exhibit Opening Reception: The Art of Nature

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).

Visualizing Science: Illustration and Beyond with Jen Christiansen

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.

Jen Christiansen, senior graphics editor at Scientific American

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.


Meet the Artist: Diane T Sands

A 4-panel comic from Life On Toast by Diane T Sands that says "Start Where You Are"

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. 

A 4-panel comic from Life On Toast by Diane T Sands depicting 3 ducks and 1 goose
A 4-panel comic from Life On Toast by Diane T Sands saying "You choose: One day, or day one."
A 4-panel comic from Life On Toast by Diane T Sands saying, "No, I DON'T know the words."

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).

Lecture: Exploring Science Through Art with Andrea Dingeldein

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.

Andrea has two pieces in our 2020 exhibition of science illustration, The Art of Nature. Explore the virtual exhibit.