A few years ago I created a simplified vector illustration (not something I often do) of a couple Late Cretaceous dinosaurs for use by the University of Waterloo Earth Sciences Museum. Now, this image can be seen wandering around the streets of Waterloo and beyond on the side of the Museum’s van.
The coloration of the animals in the vehicle decal isn’t quite true to my original; you can see a better color version of the image at the bottom of the Museum’s website.
By request, my illustration is based upon an original sketch by the Museum’s Curator, Peter Russell. This sketch can still be seen on the the entrance doors to the University’s EIT building, which houses the wonderful little museum.
This past April I had the honor of being the keynote speaker during the Awards Banquet at the Ontario Numismatic Association’s Annual Convention.
A few members of the Waterloo Coin Society, the club hosting this year’s convention in Kitchener, noticed the article about the 2012 Lucky Loonie (and its designer) in the local paper last summer and subsequently invited me speak at the convention.
During my presentation, I explained the steps I take to create coin designs for the Royal Canadian Mint and I showed many of the sketches and drawings that are part of my process. I also included a few slides of coins by other RCM artists whose work I particularly admire (and I could have showed many more, if not for the time constraint).
I’m very grateful to the Royal Canadian Mint for their support, including their blessing to speak about the coin design process, permission to use their intellectual property throughout my presentation, and an opportunity to meet an RCM Project Manager at the convention.
I also thank the Convention Committee for inviting me to participate in the convention; the experience was rewarding. It was a great pleasure to meet the collectors, a friendly and fun-loving group of people who are passionate and knowledgeable about their collecting specialties.
After much delay, I think Spring has arrived here in Southern Ontario. Yesterday I saw the first butterfly of the year, this Mourning Cloak:
It’s a bit of a thrill for me to spot this butterfly in the woods for the first time each year; it always seems surprising to see them on chilly spring days.
It’s an appropriate season to post one of my most recent illustrations, this Shenandoah salamander (Plethodon shenandoah), since it’s the time of year here in Ontario when salamanders come out to breed (though this is not a local species):
The salamander illustration, done with watercolor and gouache paints, will end up on an interpretive sign at the Smithsonian National Zoological Park. I have illustrated over a thousand animals during my career but this is the very first time I’ve illustrated a salamander. I really enjoyed the challenge of painting an animal with smooth, wet, reflective skin (and I relished the absence of fur, feathers, and scales).
Also just in time for spring is the recent release of this coin from the Royal Canadian Mint, the design for which I worked on last summer:
A nicer image and more information about the 38 mm silver coin is available at the Mint’s website here. This tree is a sugar maple, one of my favorite tree species. The specimen that inspired this illustration is a local one.
My illustration of a wood bison ended up on the final in a series of six silver bullion wildlife coins. The Royal Canadian Mint released this one last month; it is available globally from bullion distributors. (Locally, you can find it at Colonial Acres Coins). The coin is 38 mm in diameter.
Wood bison (Bison bison athabascae) are one of two subspecies of American bison – the other subspecies being the plains bison. This wood bison is shown galloping through snow.
This year’s SONSI exhibit takes place at the Richview Public Library in Toronto. I will have five works in this exhibit, including the black crappie featured in the publicity image above. The reception is open to the public – so consider this your invitation!
Once the exhibit opens, an online catalog will be available at sonsi.ca.
The Royal Canadian Mint released a 65 mm diameter fine silver coin last month featuring a beaver family that I illustrated:
To date, this is the largest coin I’ve illustrated and it’s neat to see my drawing engraved in such detail. If you click on the photo you can see a larger image; note the texture of the tail and bite marks on the tree. The booklet that comes with the coin describes the scene as “a portrait of a beaver family, its members immersed in the work of felling trees for their dam, lodge, and food cache.” That’s certainly true about the beaver on the left side of the coin. To be precise, the yearling and the kit on the right side of the coin are feeding, not helping with the household chores. The other parent is in the background. Below is a photo with slightly different lighting that more clearly shows the fourth beaver swimming in front of the lodge in the background.
Beavers are fascinating animals and I was happy to have the opportunity to learn more about them as preparation for this illustration. You can see this 2.5 inch diameter coin at the Mint’s website here.
At the time of this writing, the website does not reflect the fact that the low mintage coin is sold out.