Collecting on Paper

I’m like a kid in a candy store when I step into the Pember Museum of Natural History in Granville, New York. Thirteen cherry and glass cases house more than 1,200 specimens of birds, 500 mounted mammals, and row upon row of insects, bird eggs, and nests.  The collection is life’s work of a single man: entrepreneur and naturalist Franklin Pember (1841-1924). I love capturing pieces of this collection in my journal—but where to begin is always a challenge. As I wander from case to case, I look for things that strike… Read More

Eastern Pondhawk Dragonfly

What a great sighting! A female eastern pondhawk zoomed into view during a dragonfly reconnaissance outing several weeks ago (see “Searching for Dragonflies”). It was my first time seeing one and their green color is truly remarkable. Like many species of dragonflies, male and female pondhawks have different colors and patterns, which make them fun to paint side by side. For a precise painting like this, I like to do the species at its actual size—in this case, about 1.5 inches each. That makes small brushes essential! I used sizes 3, 1,… Read More

Searching for Dragonflies

OK, I admit it…I’m a dragonfly geek. While most people enjoy a boat ride or swim at my mother’s summer cottage, I’m often out rowing around in the hot, mucky backwater shallows in search of dragonflies. Sketching them is a highlight of my summer. Dragonflies are exceptional flyers, which makes it particularly challenging to identify and sketch them in the field. But, like birds, dragonflies perch for short periods, often returning to the same spot between patrols. Some species perch longer than others and the position in which they perch– horizontal, at… Read More