What a thrill when a box of new books lands on your doorstep! Yesterday was Publication Day for John Muir Wrestles a Waterfall by Julie Danneberg, my first book illustrated with colored pencils.

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Charlesbridge Art Director Whitney Leader-Picone had seen my Sketchbook Project postings, and wanted to mirror the pencil sketching Muir did in wilderness travels. You can read more about that meander here.

I’m all for drawing directly from nature. Last week I brought Maine College of Art’s senior illustration majors to the Harvard Musuem of Natural History in Cambridge, MA.

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With over 12,000 specimens including minerals, glass flowers, skulls, and taxidermy, you can go cross-eyed. Below, Illustration Department Chair, Scott Nash, views the big bug collection with Chelsea Anthony.

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Some of them seem out of this world, ready for sci-fi characterization.

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Alexandra Knight did these elegant portraits of insect personalities:

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Emma McCabe captured this gorgeous beetle:

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The taxidermy is quite astonishing. How is this not endearing?

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MECA Illustration alum, Ali McCahon, joined us for the tour. Here’s her selfie:

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Paul Gray draws the melancholy of it all:

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Taylor Grant sketched these curious specimens in the glass flower exhibit.

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Molly Blyth-Olson added watercolor splashes to animate this bedecked bird.

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Liam Murphy’s critter is giving the viewer a good glare.

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Cecil Cates reported that a boy passing by remarked, “that looks like a pinecone!” of his Temmick’s Pangolin.

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I, too, was captivated by the dinosaur room. My triceratops, below:

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I can’t resist pink tentacles in the next gallery, sorry.

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Students had time to explore Harvard Yard and beyond on their own.  I could still find Chris Jones in a crowd, though.

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A gaggle of us quickly toured the nearby Harvard Art Museums, where Mark Rothko’s Harvard Murals proved a sublime ending to an inspirational day.

Back in Portland, the buzz at Maine College of Art keeps humming.

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I attended a lecture given by a traveling Bee from the Beehive Collective, a collaborative network of artists based in Machias, Maine, who create social cartography to spread their graphic stories around the world. Check out the density and detail of this natural history/socioeconomic manifesto!

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I was back at MECA the next day for a book signing for A Snowy Owl Story, illustrated by MECA Illustration alum, Jada Fitch, and written by Islandport Press editor, Melissa Kim. The book is first in a series about wildlife on the move, partnered with Maine Audubon. Jada was in the first MECA illustration class I taught in 2003, before there was an illustration department, and she stood out from the pack with her superb drawing skills. Jada hung sketches and a storyboard for the book in the Artists @ Work gallery during the book signing. Loved seeing these!

 

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Time flies when you draw wild things. Bravo, Jada and Kim!

I drew this tiger while at the museum, in honor of Tiger Boy by Mitali Perkins.

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I’ll be roaring at the book launch of our new book on April 26 at Newtonville Books. Come join us!

 

One Comment

  1. Gorgeous! Wish I was there!

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