Illustrating Nature

The benefit of having wanderlust and taking walks around the neighborhood is that you discover all sorts of interesting things. This past week I took a walk when I was feeling antsy and unproductive, and in the process found a wonderful art exhibit at Santa Cruz’s Museum of Natural History.

UC Santa Cruz Extension has a graduate program in scientific illustration, and every year the graduating students have an exhibit of their work at the Museum of Natural History. This year’s Illustrating Nature is the 20th such show, and is well worth a visit.

The Illustrating Nature poster

The show has taken over most of the museum, filling it with a wide range of illustrations both in terms of style and content. Photoshop images hang next to more traditional watercolor, acrylic, and gouache paintings, and black-and-white pen and scratchboard illustrations round out the display. It’s fascinating to see how an illustration assignment is handled differently, according to medium chosen and each individual student’s interests.

Display cases hold original sketchbook pages, along with some of the specimens that appear in the final illustrations. Younger visitors with shorter attention spans (or older ones, for that matter!) might enjoy making a game out of matching the objects in the cases with the art on the walls.

Unfortunately, being students, the illustrators whose work is on display do not yet have websites, or I’d provide links so you could see their work. You can see examples of work by previous graduates on the program’s gallery page. All the more reason to visit in person! Sarah-Hope and I are planning on returning this week. As should you; the show runs only through June 6.

Illustrating Nature
Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History
1305 East Cliff Drive, Santa Cruz, CA 95062
Open Tuesday through Saturday, 10am – 5pm
(831) 420-6115

1 thought on “Illustrating Nature

  1. Wow – those are some incredibly talented artists! But doing minute detail like that would drive me nuts…

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