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Scientific and Botanical Illustration Conference in California This Summer

by Deb Shaw

GNSI 2016 Conference Logo, © 2016 GNSI.

GNSI 2016 Conference Logo, © 2016 GNSI.

The Guild of Natural Science Illustrators (GNSI) will be holding their 38th annual GNSI Conference at the University of California Santa Cruz, July 3-9, 2016.

Home to the infamous Banana Slug mascot, the three-day core conference will be held July 3-6, 2016 on the beautiful Santa Cruz campus. Conference housing will be provided at Cowell College. Most of the conference events will also be conveniently located at Cowell. Rooms will be available in Cowell residence halls or apartments on a first-come, first-serve basis. Each housing package includes a full meal plan in the dining hall and a parking permit.

During the core conference, there will be seven keynote addresses, 37 breakout sessions, an auction, the ever-popular and always inspiring portfolio sharing session and a techniques showcase where illustrators generously share their knowledge with conference attendees.

Plenary speakers include John Muir Laws, nature journaling evangelist, who will present “Your Brain on Paper” and why it is so important for illustrators to have this observation tool. Terryl Whitlatch, artist for Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace, will share her tips and tricks in novel creature design. David Goodsell, a microbiologist from Scripps Institute of Oceanography, will reveal the world of cells in nanoscale through his watercolor paintings, which are both practical and beautiful.

Wendy Hiller Gee will highlight the importance of science and health literacy through her medical illustration practice. Breck Tyler, a seabird biologist, will share his experiences from 25 years at Midway Atoll observing albatross colonies. Jane Kim, founder of Ink Dwell studio, will share her extraordinary efforts to foster a love and respect for the earth through her Wall of Birds mural, depicting the 375-million-year evolution of birds. More than 260 species of birds are represented, all painted to scale. And Marc Paisin, our favorite art lawyer, will give us the rundown on how to copyright our own work (and how to stay out of trouble).

Following the plenary speakers in the mornings, there will be three afternoons packed with 50-minute presentations and 2-hour mini workshops by more than 45 experts in art, technical and scientific concepts. The presentations will cover a wide variety of topics, ranging from traditional media techniques (waxy pencil, gouache, and watercolor) to digital media (Photoshop and animation). BAGSC’s Tania Marien will be part of the panel for a presentation entitiled “When Good Careers Stall: Working Through the Slump.”

On Monday evening, all conference attendees can participate in illustrating a collaborative chalk mural of either a Kelp Forest or the California Coast Landscape. Expect a delightful evening of drawing, wine and desserts—working along side talented artists. Come prepared with sketches of your favorites from the species list on the website, or not; reference photos will be available. Want to help but not draw? Participants are needed to write species names in the border areas. After the conference, the two murals will hang on public display for about a month at the Sanctuary Exploration Center (SEC), a block from the Municipal Wharf—the heart of Santa Cruz.

On July 7 and 8, following the core conference, there will be half-day and full-day workshops exploring traditional and digital media in depth. A few of the traditional media workshops include: silverpoint/pastels; mushrooms in watercolor; field sketching; graphite and pastel dust; and, textures in gouache.

A few of the exciting slate of field trips include: a whale-watching trip; sketching the jewel-like tide pools at Natural Bridges State Park; a behind-the-scenes tour of marine mammal facilities at Long Marine Lab; a day trip to Monterey Bay Aquarium and Cannery Row; and a kayaking trip in Elkhorn Slough. And, of course, what conference in Northern California would be complete without a wine-tasting tour.

Many ASBA and BASGC members also below to GNSI — you will recognize a lot of familiar faces! There is much to see, learn and do. Registrants who sign up before June 5 receive a $50 early bird discount! Hope to see you there!

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