Winter sketching, book recommendation & more!
December 2014
Tips & inspiration for incorporating the arts into science, education & daily life.
Artful Giving: my work is for sale for the first time!
While I am a firm believer that anyone - even you! - can learn to sketch well enough to produce artful drawings, I understand that not everyone wants to give their own work as gifts. Indeed, over the past year, I have received countless queries - from workshop participants and organizers, students, and friends - all with an interest in purchasing my artwork.

So, I'm delighted to share this news with you first. This December, for the first time ever, a limited selection of my illustrations and natural history observations are available for purchase! 

Click here to order yours!

Fine art prints, tote bags, mugs, and greeting cards are all available just in time for the holidays.

This month: wintry sketching inspiration

Enjoy the tips and ideas in this month's newsletter. And, as always, please feel free to share your sketching adventures (and sketches) with me via email or social media.

Happy December sketching!

  • Sketching tip: Discovery through Repetition
  • Artful Science: Field Notes book review
  • Artful Classrooms: Drawing as Assessment
  • Sketchbook Snapshot: Sketching in France & Cyprus
  • Upcoming Events: Workshops, classes & more

Just keep scrolling for
all the goodies
in this month's newsletter!


A 2014 copyright covers all
content (text and illustrations) in
this newsletter. Thank you for respecting this by contacting me directly with reproduction requests.

"A sketch demonstrates very clearly just how much you do not know [about your subject]."
Renowned ornithologist and artist
David Allen Sibley in 
Sibley's Birding Basics

<<House finch seen scavenging outside a bakery.
With winter settling in and the holiday rush not yet upon us, this is a great time of year to do some sketching and nature observation.

A few ideas:
  • If you have bird feeders, try to figure out which birds visit you regularly. Start by sketching and making detailed notes about size, color, and behavior. Try to resist looking up the birds in a bird guide until after you have filled a few pages with your notes. Once you do look up your avian visitors, compare your notes with the descriptions in the bird guides, and make notes (right on top of your initial notes) of anything you missed.
  • Go snow shoeing or cross-country skiing, and keep track of the animal tracks you see. Same idea as above - take lots of notes and make lots of sketches before resorting to reference books.
  • Indoors, monitor seasonally blooming house plants by sketching them daily. Keep tabs on things like leaf and bud growth, changes in shape and color, etc. 
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.
Sketching Tip
Draw the same thing(s) 30 times in a row. 

You might choose an acorn or a bowl of acorns, a tea cup or your set of tea cups, an antler, or a basket of sea shells. It does not matter what you select, as long as it is something that is inherently interesting to you.
Click here for detailed instructions.
Upcoming Events

Drawn to Natural History: full-day sketching workshop June 19, 2015 in Glacier National Park. Stay tuned for details!
Artful Science
I heartily recommend the book Field Notes on Science and Nature (link). Click links to read reviews in Nature (link) & (link).

Written by a band of
highly articulate scientists, teachers and artists, the book offers
a host of ideas for how
to take notes about
what you observe
and wonder about.
In particular, Jenny Keller's essay (link) eloquently explains the value of drawing for research and communication, and also offers several easy-to-implement tips for doing your own field sketches.
Artful Classrooms

Sometimes, words obscure what students don't fully understand.

Felice Frankel, a researcher at Harvard/MIT and her colleagues have data to substantiate what Sibley wrote (see above).

Through their experiments with university-level science and design students, they found that students could ace essays describing fundamental science processes.

And yet, when those same students were asked to sketch out the cycle or process they had described, it became immediately clear in what ways jargon and vocabulary were serving as crutches.
Click here for detailed article I wrote about how to use drawing in the classroom.
Sketchbook Snapshot


This autumn, I had a (what I hope isn't) once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to do a lot of sketching in France and Cyprus. These are a couple of sketches from that trip. As you can tell, the theme of the trip was eating well and enjoying local flavors.
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. 
Artful Giving
Order art-emblazoned gifts
this holiday season!
Just in case you missed the note above, this December is the first time ever that a limited selection of my illustrations and natural history observations are available! 

Click here to order yours!

Fine art prints, tote bags, mugs, and greeting cards are all available just in time for the holidays. 

Please note: Your prints and art-emblazoned gifts are produced via Society6, a fine art production platform. The prices you pay include production and shipping costs, and I receive a % of the fee. This arrangement makes selling my work worthwhile for me, while ensuring the prices remain affordable for you.
Find something helpful? Feel free to share!
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Copyright © 2014 Bethann G. Merkle (, All rights reserved.

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