Natural History Illustration

This semester, I am taking an art history elective called Green Piece. It is a combination of natural history, art, and nature. For our first outing, we walked through the woods to replicate the journey of one of the first people to explore the Americas. These people would be hired by scientists in Europe to travel across the ocean and send back specimens and drawings to be classified or identified. As we walked around, we could sketch or collect items that interested us. There were no photos allowed because photography was not used when these specimens were being collected and recorded for the first time. I collected a few different leaves and sketched a couple different types of mushrooms and fungi as well as an insect.

After we had collected our specimens, we were tasked with creating an illustration of it using only the sketches or items we had collected. Among the items and sketches I had gathered, I decided to illustrate the insect I had found. Luckily I had taken thorough notes and sketches of it so that creating the illustration was not very challenging.

I depicted the insect from above on a large scale because that is where all of the color and detail is found. I then included the actual size of the insect to convey how small it actually is. Then, underneath, I included a second illustration where I showed the leaf he was sitting on in order to give a glimpse of its habitat. I used watercolors and ink to create the page.

Natural History Illustration

I really enjoyed this project because it is a great opportunity to practice close observation as well as get away from technology for a little bit.

Featured image by Maria Carluccio

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