Drawing Classes

One of the ways I share the stories of science is through teaching nature journaling and scientific illustration — at biological field stations, in university classes, in K-12 classes, in natural history museums, botanical gardens and nature centers, in arts programs and in private instruction. I believe that the ability to draw is not the privilege of a talented elite, but rather a set of skills available to all of us. Like literacy, there are some simple rules and the rest is practice. I teach these skills to students of all ages, all backgrounds, and all skill levels. I always learn something new from my students, too, and they learn from each other.

Scientific Illustration Workshop at Highlands Biological Station

Scientific Illustration Workshop at Highlands Biological Station

A sampling of institutions where I have taught scientific illustration:

* UGA Costa Rica Field Station, San Luis, Costa Rica
* Archbold Biological Station, Lake Placid, Florida
* Highlands Biological Station, Highlands, North Carolina
* Spelman College, Atlanta, GA
* Fernbank Museum of Natural History, Atlanta, GA
* Chattahoochee Nature Center, Atlanta, GA
* Atlanta Botanical Garden, Atlanta, GA

Here is what some of my students have said about my classes:

“SUPERB course!!! I came in with a moderate background in illustration and stippling with the goal of improving my repertoire of techniques and get more practice and instruction in those I was familiar with. In every regard the course was a success. I feel much more confident with drawing and shading and REALLY liked the introduction to color (something I had no experience with). I got more than my money’s worth.” – Gavin Lawson, biology professor

“This was a fabulous experience. We ranged widely in experience and skill level, but Nancy was able to adapt to all of us. I can’t wait to practice all I’ve learned. If you offer this class again, please sign me up now!” – Mary Nouri, student from Highlands Biological Station, North Carolina

“On the hike … things like the sheen on the leaves, patterns in the bark, or the composition of sets of leaves asserted themselves to me more than usual. It was then I realized something had happened: I was seeing things differently! It was even more striking when I got home. … I noticed the different shades of bark, or the composition of the branches, stems, and light in the trees… Something wonderful has happened, and I hope it is not just to me! The experience is exciting, inspiring, and makes me happy! Thank you, Nancy, and all of you, for helping me discover something new!” – Richard Secrist, student from Highlands Biological Station, North Carolina

I am more interested in process than product. I want to teach students to be better observers of nature, to ask questions, to think as both artists and scientists.  But some of them produce beautiful work! Here are samples of the work of some of my students.


Richard Secrist’s scarab

Jill Houser's caddisfly

Jill Houser’s caddisfly

Aira Loren Burkhart's shell

Aira Loren Burkhart’s shell

Gavin Lawson's salamanders

Gavin Lawson’s salamanders

To find out more about how you can set up workshops or classes at your institution, weave scientific illustration or nature journaling into your biology or ecology courses, or to commission scientific illustration work, please write me at sciencecandance (at) gmail (dot) com.

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