Natural History Illustration: A Foray into Observational Drawing

University of Washington, Center for Urban Horticulture
Autumn 2018
taught by Sharon Birzer

Gain confidence in observing form while working with biological subjects to document and interpret what you see. An introduction to the practice of natural science illustration is complemented by critique sessions allowing students to discuss and respond to each other’s work. Build observational and visual interpretation skills while exploring illustration using a variety of techniques, including graphite, pen and ink, colored pencil, and watercolor. Explore how these essential media are applied to make drawings into more refined illustrations. The focus of this fundamental course is drawing, from gestural sketching to precision rendering of illustrations for scientific purposes. Each student is given the opportunity to render selected subjects in a variety of demonstrated techniques.

For more information see UW CUH offerings:

Voices of the Wilderness artist residency, 2018

US Forest Service, National Park Service and US Fish & Wildlife Service, Alaska

During this year’s Summer Solstice, I was fortunate to experience the wonders of the Tebenkof Bay Wilderness in the Tongass National Forest. We arrived by float plane, and the weather was clear, which is somewhat rare for those parts, enabling us to kayak and camp. I spent much of my time exploring lichens with Karen Dillman, a Forest Service ecologist and lichenologist, though the entire crew who supported the mission were amazing. The contrast of pure wilderness versus where I live, in Seattle, was remarkable. There was almost no discernible human impact in this untouched and pristine area of wilderness, except for signs of the native Tlinget inhabitants who once lived there. I observed beautiful and unique life forms at every turn, recording them with photographs and drawings, in awe of the abundance of botanical gems and wonders. Karen and I focused on lichens which are an indicator species, meaning their presence or absence indicates air quality, though many native species were present. I am grateful for the protection of these priceless and endlessly intriguing untouched areas of land.

Civita Institute Fellowship, 2017

My Fellowship was one of discovery and renewal as I documented my observations of the natural world in the unique and fragile remote hill town and surrounding canyons of Civita di Bagnoregio in the region of Alto Lazio, Italy.