exploring the importance of downtime for creative thinking...
from Bethann Garramon Merkle
November 2016
Tips & inspiration for incorporating drawing into science, education & daily life.
Sharing SciArt can be fun for everyone!

I've been busy working on illustrations for an exhibit of my "Ecologically True Story of the Tortoise and the Hare" project. As a result, I'm in a sketching mood, and I've started sending drawings hither and yon.

Last month's sketching tip focused on making stickers from our drawings, as a way of making reproductions we could certainly share.

But this month, I'm in the mood for sharing with no intermediate process. So, I'm suggesting you sketch on the packages you mail, and illustrate the letters you send (and send a letter!). :)

In general, this month's newsletter focuses on ways of, and ideas for, sharing SciArt. 

Enjoy and happy sharing!

Illustration: snowy owl
Click section title to jump to topic.

As always, feel
free to share* this
newsletter with friends
and colleagues...and
share your sketches
(& sciart adventures)
with me via email
or social media.

"The true sign
of intelligence is
not knowledge
but imagination."

-- Albert Einstein
scientist & musician

*Close-up from illustration in this month's
root & star magazine! Click here for info
on how stoneflies make it through winter!
Sketching Tip: Share your SciArt
There are a lot of ways of sharing the SciArt you make, or the work you appreciate that is created by others.
A little bee found in my windowsill as I was looking for things to sketch on a package.
Here are a few ideas, as well as some best practices tips for sharing.

Best Practices
  • If you didn't make it, be sure to ask the creator for permission before sharing or reproducing in any way.
  • If the content you would like to share is online, double-check that it was posted by the creator before sharing it yourself.
  • Click here for more tips about reproducing images in print or online.
  • Check out this article I wrote a while ago for tips on how to deal with the issue of giving up your copyright by posting your images to social media
Ways to Share Your SciArt
  • Sketch on the packages and envelopes you mail! Or on the letter inside. 
  • If you share your work online, tag it with #sciart, so that other folks interested in SciArt can more easily connect with you. For example, here's the Twitter feed for #sciart.
Artful Science: Animation
Moving images are compelling, so making your SciArt into animations might be tempting.  

I have zero animation experience. It took me about 30 minutes to create the video animation of drawing the prickly pear above. I still haven't figured out how to upload it.

Fortunately, there are lots of folks out there who have experimented with, and/or mastered, SciArt animations. Here are two blog posts you might find useful if you want to transform a sketch or diagram into a moving image.

1. Eleanor Lutz's "Tabletop Whale's Guide to making GIFs"

Eleanor is a fantastic illustrator and scientist, and she's provided a visual step-by-step tutorial for making an animated infographic. You'll need access to Photoshop to follow her instructions.

2. Szymon Drobniak provides several suggestions for making animations.

Over at Crastina, a platform for science communication enhancement, Szymon introduces VideoScribe, Pencil2D, Eleanor's Photoshop tutorial mentioned above, and even explains how to use the coding software R to produce animated graphs and figures. Click here to view his full post.
Artful Classrooms: Sharing Inspiration
There's a lot of SciArt out in the world, and sharing and learning from it is half the fun of creating my own. 

There is a lot of SciArt out there, as you can see by this Google search for "#sciart."

A few weeks ago, a friend wrote and said:
"What natural history illustrators/artist-scientists would you
want to use to inspire youth/adults to love nature, art, and science?"
Oh, was I excited to answer the question! Here are a handful of the SciArtists I recommended:
And, a couple of books that can get you rolling with even more ideas and inspiring SciArtists are:
Incorporate sketching
into your k12, university, or
adult education program!

I am available for half- and full-day sessions or artist-in-residence
programs. I can teach or coach you in both drawing and drawing
facilitation, and I'm willing to help write grants to secure funding.

Please contact me directly if you'd
like to schedule an educational program.
Sketchbook Snapshot
Final illustrations are due in 36 days...

...for my illustration class! I've been working on images for the exhibit I'll be putting on next spring, and I feel like the whole project is gaining momentum.


Sketches of hare specimens, drawn from reference photos I took last winter while visiting the University of Arizona Natural History Museum.

Above: A tortoise observed at the Phoenix Herpetological Society Sanctuary, and a prickly pear cactus seen in Kenya.  Below: Tortoises at the PHSS.

The exhibit will focus on "The Ecologically True Story of the Tortoise and the Hare." There will be finished illustrations, letterpress prints, sketches, and more!
Artful Gifts

Holiday Cards!

It's almost that time of year again. I have illustrated greeting cards in stock for your holiday letter-writing and gift-giving. 

All cards are printed in the USA on environmentally friendly paper. And, as always, I offer bulk discounts!

Do get in touch if you have questions - I'd love to chat about the cards!

>>Click to order yours!>>
Upcoming Events

Drawing a lion
Drawn to Wildlife: 
A Sketching for Scientists workshop
November 17, 2016
Cody, Wyoming

This hands-on workshop for wildlife biologists will take place during The Wildlife Society's Wyoming chapter annual meeting. Click here for complete details.

Looking for training? 
If you'd like to schedule a public workshop, artist residency, or professional development training, let me know!

>>Click to view calendar online!>>

New Project Website
A couple of my projects have assumed lives of their own, and have kind of out-grown my website. So, I've launched a new website focused exclusively on the grant-supported science storytelling projects I've been working on lately. Click here to view the website!
Exhibit Dates Selected

Opening night reception: March 23

The first exhibition of materials from "The Ecologically True Story of the Tortoise and the Hare" will be hosted by the University of
Wyoming Biodiversity Institute. Stay tuned for more details!
Can't get enough?
Here are two easy options:

1.Enhance your drawing & observation skills, or to learn to draw!
Check out my calendar for upcoming courses and workshops, or feel free to contact me about scheduling one!
2. Subscribe to my blog.
Get in-depth articles and tips on artful science, natural history observation, and science communication. Click here to get detailed explanations of how to incorporate drawing into your research and classroom, along with lots of helpful ideas for enhancing your own drawing skills. 
Find something helpful?
Feel free to share!*

I'm absolutely thrilled when you like material in this newsletter well enough to share. Please respect my intellectual copy rights, and those of contributors, by only:
  1. forwarding the entire email without altering any content;
  2. or by sharing a link to the newsletter links to specific content within the newsletter.
Thanks for not copying and sharing any of the text or images, especially without attribution! 

If you have any questions about sharing or reproduction, let me know!
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