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Best wishes for the holidays!
T H E
CommNatural NEWSLETTER
from Bethann Garramon Merkle
December  2015
Tips & inspiration for incorporating drawing into science, education & daily life.
I hope this note finds you warm and well! While it's cold and wintry up north, we're "thawing out" with my husband's family in the less-cold Southwest.

In lieu of a full-blown December newsletter, I'm taking a break, and looking back on some highlights from the 2015 newsletter.
 
Over the next 24 hours, I'll be scribbling down a few final notes for 2015; hope you get some time to do the same! And then, I'll be working on a January 2016 newsletter packed with great year-starting ideas.

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

 

Happy sketching,

Contents
Click section title to jump to topic.
 
Insight
"You don't know it
until you draw it."
Bernd Heinrich


Straight to the point & succinct enough to become a mantra, this is one of my favorites! Featured in 02/15 edition.
Sketching Tip: Highlights
1. Winter Sketching ideas: bird feeders, signs of wildlife in the snow, and indoor sketching (Click here to view the newsletter issue featuring these tips).

2. Tunnel vision in a museum: focus on only one work of art or exhibit in a museum! (Click here to view the newsletter explaining this approach.)

3. Sketching clouds: Regardless of the weather, clouds make a great sketching subject. Click here to view the newsletter with tips for sketching clouds.
Artful Science: Highlights

1. In a delightful article on The Scientist magazine's website, Julia King explains how E.O. Wilson and other well-known scientists use drawing as an essential part of their work.

2. I heartily recommend the book Field Notes on Science and Nature. Read reviews in Nature & at Wired.com.

3. At the recent Ecological Society of America's annual conference,
I was thrilled by how enthusiastically researchers - most with little or no art training - put pen to paper. While there, I led a 'sketching for scientists' training, co-facilitated a #sketchyourscience blitz, and led an informal nature sketching workshopSee the 07/15 edition for more details!
Artful Classrooms: Highlights
 1. "By observing and drawing to learn, students would not merely be passive repositories of information, but active participants in the creation of meaningful knowledge."This quote comes from "Drawing to Learn Science: Legacies of Agassiz (open access)," an article Neal Lerner wrote, in the Journal of Technical Writing and Communication, about preeminent naturalist-ecologist Louis Aggasiz (1807-1873).

2. The California Native Plant Society's free Nature Journaling Curriculum provides detailed-yet-simple instruction on for how to draw basic nature subjects such as flowers and birds. Also included: how to assess sketches in ways that emphasize observation and learning vs. art skills; language arts and English-second-language student integration; botany basics; journal activities.

3. The September 2015 edition shares a specific sequence for adults who want to facilitate observation-based sketching, particularly to supplement data collection methods. Click here to view that edition and all the details.
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 if need be.

Please contact me directly if you'd
like to schedule an educational program.
Sketchbook Snapshot
 



A few days ago, I spent an afternoon leading children and adults in insect sketching activities at the 
Arizona Science Center.
My sister-in-law arranged for a handful of us adults to spend the afternoon volunteering at the Science Center. I, perhaps predictably, jumped at the chance to volunteer at the "bug station." That station turned out to be a set of cases of preserved specimens (100-150 years old, I was told!). There were huge African beetles, striking South American insects, and two delightful cases of "common Arizona insects." 

Visitors and I ogled the oddities in the international cases, but spent most of our time observing, commenting upon, and sketching the local species. Of particular interest were the western unicorn beetles, the tarantula hawk moth, and a full case of butterflies. I was struck by how many children fixated on the tiniest butterfly - a pygmy blue - which is about the size of my pinkie fingernail. 

The sketches I'm sharing here were made on scraps of paper, and were drawn with ballpoint pen, pencil, and crayons. Even the most "basic" materials can go a long way!
Artful Gifts
 
Resolution Idea: Write a couple of letters every month!


And, if you're looking for something to write those letters on, have a look at the natural history-inspired greeting cards in stock in my shop right now! 

Details: ($15/set+s&h); 6 cards/set; bulk discounts for orders of 24+ cards. Cards & envelopes printed in the USA on sustainably sourced paper. 
>>Click to order your cards!>>
Upcoming Events

1. Drawn to Creative Science seminar: invited talk for the University of Wyoming Zoology & Physiology Department; February 8, 12:00 pm in UW Berry Center 138 (10th and Lewis St.).

2. Drawn to Biodiversity nature sketching workshop: hosted by the University of Wyoming Biodiversity Institute; Saturday, March 5, 8:00am - 5:00pm in UW Berry Center.

3. Looking for some training? 
If you'd like to schedule a public workshop, artist residency, or professional development training, let me know!
>>Click to view all art cards & gifts!>>
News
 
Planning ahead for 2016 workshops

I'm in the process of planning workshops for summer 2016.

Right now, there's a good possibility of field journal and 'sketching for scientists' sessions in/at the following locations:
  • Holter Museum of Art
  • Missoula, MT
  • Belgrade, MT
  • Laramie, WY
  • Phoenix, Arizona
I also recently made some really fun connections with disease ecologists, mammologists, ornithologists, and landscape ecologists in various parts of Wyoming.

It looks like I'll be collaborating with them to offer a few workshops and trainings for students and scientists over the coming year.

Bottom line: I'm aiming to plan out a circuit through Montana and Wyoming, so get in touch. I'd be delighted to add you to the itinerary!
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 by only 1)forwarding the entire email - without altering any content - or by sharing 2) a link to the newsletter or 3) 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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Copyright © 2015 Bethann G. Merkle (www.commnatural.com), All rights reserved.


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