Great Barracuda - Sphyraena barracuda

Great Barracuda - Sphyraena barracuda

February 10, 2011

Teaching at The Field School

Today was the last day of a six-week Science Illustration class I've been teaching at The Field School for Boys, in Charlottesville, VA. It was all at once amazing, exhausting, touching, and down right fun. I have a new-found appreciation for teachers. It is not easy keeping 60 boys on track and moving forward, especially when some of them find more joy in throwing erasers than creating art! That said, the vast majority of them flourished, and went from zero to a hundred in a very short amount of time. Some started out timid, tentative, and nervous. Others jumped out of the gate and drew and painted with abandon. Some I had to coax. Others, I just cut loose. There are a lot of artistic genes at this school!

We covered the basics, and followed a complex series of steps to create final black and white art, mixed media art, and finally, full color art. All were scientific in nature. The boys were not allowed to copy from other books or magazines, but drew from their own observations. I taught them to Look Look Look at their subjects. Don't make it up! This is science illustration, not science-fiction illustration!

As a professional illustrator, with a career that spans over 25 years, my work has been published in about 20 books and periodicals, and reproduced across the nation in 30 public facilities. On any given day, hundreds if not thousands of people see my illustrations in aquariums, nature centers, museums, and in books. But very rarely am I able to observe folks observing my work. I'm usually in my office producing more! But this experience allowed me to actually see the boys take what I've created, what I have to share, and learn and create their very own artwork. The gift went directly from me to them and back to me. At times, it was difficult to hold back the tears. I'm terribly proud of their accomplishments.

Above are just a few of their pieces. I'll put more on my FB page soon. Just great stuff!

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