How do you communicate your research when photos of your study species are impossible to obtain or contain sensitive material? An illustrator can help create beautiful objective imagery when photos can't be used.
This scenario happened with Ph.D. candidate, Melissa Cronin at UC Santa Cruz. Melissa works with manta and devil rays, and her work focuses on understanding the life history of these giant animals and working with the tuna industry to reduce the impact of by-catch on manta mortality. She needed visuals to use for communicating her research that would also serve to help with species identification.
The first problem: these are massive animals. Manta rays can get to be 23 feet across and 6,600 lbs! Many of the mobulid ray species live in pelagic offshore habitats where they aren't often seen by humans, so photographing something this huge, underwater, in the open ocean, is simply impossible for her to do.
The second problem: many of the photos of these rays are from by-catch. The animals are in distress and the photos cause viewers to bring in an emotional response that distracts from focusing on the details of the research findings.
The Solution: Work with a science illustrator!
Melissa and I talked about what she needed, and she sent me photos, videos, pages from guidebooks, and resources I would need to make her paintings. I then created these ten watercolor and gouache paintings for her. Now, she has illustrations she can use in her talks and to help with species identification and research. The artwork is clearer and more objective than the available photos. I hope my illustrations help her achieve her research goals and help conservation efforts for these magnificent animals. To learn more about Melissa's work, check out https://ccal.ucsc.edu/melissa-cronin/
We are living in strange times now. I am so thankful that I normally work from my home studio and that my clients are all remote anyway. It makes it much easier to continue doing science illustration. I am still open for business, making new products, creating new artwork, and taking on new clients and projects. Life Science Studios has moved locations! I am now operating out of Bellingham, WA, in a new studio room with an inspiring view.
I have added a couple of fun new products to the shop. You may have also noticed that you can now purchase mushroom art products directly from the Life Science Studios website. I am so excited to have my own store on my website now! You can also still purchase through Etsy.
A few of my cichlid fish paintings have been published in research journal articles. I love seeing how the paintings and data work together to communicate the research findings. I have two more papers featuring my artwork coming out soon, and I can't wait to share those!
I also had a great time creating a new logo for The Hungry Forager, a new company out of Kentucky. The client wanted a logo for the website and a circular one for social media, so we came up with two fun versions. The logos show the variety of foraged foods that The Hungry Forager will be selling.
I hope you all are safe and healthy and staying home.
It's March! And March has everybody thinking green, for St. Paddy's Day. So I thought I would profile my favorite green mushroom, Gliophorus psittacinus, known as the Parrot Wax Cap. This tiny mushroom is hard to miss because of its bright BRIGHT green color and super slimy cap! When I lived in California, I used to find these in the redwood forests near Santa Cruz. They are so beautifully bright green against the red-brown background of the redwoods.
This species also comes in bright red-orange and bright yellow too!
Cap: The cap is smooth, convex, and covered in slime. The color ranges from bright green to dark green when young, and changes to shades of pink, yellow, and orange with age.
Hymenium: The gills are adnate to subdecurrent, occasionally seceding. Color is greenish when young, becoming concolorous with the cap in age.
Stipe: The stipe is cylindrical to tapered up. It is greenish when young, becoming yellow, orange, or pink with age.
Spore Print: White