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Goldenrod prints

August 31, 2016

Screen Shot 2016-08-30 at 6.10.58 PM

The two goldenrod illustrations mentioned in my last post are available as fine art prints, with or without interpretive text. The illustrations are printed at actual size and are offered on a variety of papers. I ordered one on Archival Matte paper to test the service and was very pleased with the print and paper quality. The prints are available from Fine Art America here. At that link you’ll find an option to zoom in and see details of the illustrations. If you order a print that does not have text identifying what is illustrated, you can download a document to help you interpret the illustration: just visit the Downloads link at the top of this page.

Canadians:  The prints and posters are shipped from within Canada so postage fees aren’t horrendous and there are no issues with cross-border duties. (Most of the other products do not ship from within Canada).

There are also fulfillment centers in the USA, UK, Europe, and Australia.

Goldenrod

August 31, 2016

It’s late summer and the goldenrods are in bloom! These glorious bright yellow flowers are the crown jewels of summer, in my opinion. Seeing fields of them fills me with joy. To those suffering from hay fever this time of year: Please don’t mistakenly blame goldenrod for your suffering. It is the concurrently blooming ragweed that makes you sneeze. Ragweed has inconspicuous green flowers that are wind pollinated, hence the pollen in the air. Goldenrod has heavier pollen; it relies on insects for pollination. And numerous insects rely on goldenrod – so many in fact, that goldenrod may be considered a “biodiversity superhero.”

An interest in the insects and other organisms associated with goldenrod and their role in supporting other wildlife inspired me to apply for a research grant from the Access Copyright Foundation in order to study and illustrate them. That year-long project is now complete and the resulting illustration is below.

watercolor painting of Tall Goldenrod in four seasons with fifty associates © Emily S. Damstra

watercolor painting of Tall Goldenrod in four seasons with fifty associates © Emily S. Damstra

This life-size (approx. 36 in. tall) painting of Solidago altissima shows four ramets (individuals in a group of clones) – one for each season. Among the leaves, flowers, and stems are signs of 43 species of insects, three spiders, two fungi, and one snail. Nearly all are species that I personally observed during many hours of observations in the field; two are species that I did not see but that are known to depend on Late Goldenrod. There were many other species I observed or read about that I did not include because the goldenrod would have looked ridiculously overloaded.

I’ll post more information and close-up images in the weeks and months to come.

My research for that illustration piqued my interest in galls, which are abnormal growths of plant tissue caused by (in this case) insects. Seven species of flower, leaf, and stem gallers make an appearance in the illustration above. However, I wanted to delve deeper so I created a second illustration to show the surprising variety of galls that occur on stems of Solidago altissima. Galls from seven different insect species are represented here, with more than one example of some:

gouache painting of Goldenrod stem galls © Emily S. Damstra

gouache painting of Goldenrod stem galls © Emily S. Damstra

The illustrations are available as prints, with or without interpretive text. See here.

 

 

A stream restoration, illustrated

August 22, 2016

This year I had the pleasure of working the City of Kitchener to help communicate the reasons for and impact of a major stream restoration in one of their urban parks. Before the restoration, the stream sped its way through a concrete channel:

BEFORE stream restoration - illustration © Emily S. Damstra

BEFORE stream restoration – illustration © Emily S. Damstra

After the City restored the streambed to its more natural, winding state, the waterway became more habitable by wildlife such as the pumpkinseed sunfish. The stream also began depositing sediment along its banks rather than carrying it all the way to the lake in Victoria Park and problematically dumping it there. Another significant benefit of the restoration is the aesthetic appeal of the more natural watercourse:

AFTER stream restoration - illustration © Emily S. Damstra

AFTER stream restoration – illustration © Emily S. Damstra

These illustrations will appear on an interpretive sign in Filsinger Park.

“[T]he visual communication of science is growing increasingly important.”

June 9, 2016

Today’s issue of the weekly science journal Nature includes an excellent article about the value of science illustration. You can read it here.

The author writes about specific collaborations between researchers and illustrators to illustrate the idea that the benefits of a good illustration are worth an investment of time and money:

Visually stunning representations that result from collaborations between scientists and artists can grab millions of online views, and attract a much wider audience than a non-illustrated paper, both of which are particularly useful for researchers whose grant applications or funding proposals require them to show a public-outreach component. They are also more likely to be written about and shared digitally, helping to raise the visibility of a scientist’s work, attract more students to a lab, boost career standing and improve chances of garnering funding. They can even inspire new experiments — or reveal gaps in knowledge.

One example cited in the article is my collaboration with scientist Jessica Linton; you can see the resulting illustration and read about it here.

 

Spotlight on sea creatures

May 9, 2016

This year I’ve been illustrating a variety of marine animals for the scuba diving magazine Sport Diver. For each issue, Richard Smith writes an article focusing on a different animal or group of animals. He offers interesting facts and stories about the organism(s), and my illustrations accompany them. Here are the paintings I’ve done so far, all of them with watercolor and gouache paints:

Illustration of Bargibant's pygmy seahorse © Emily S. Damstra

Illustration of Bargibant’s pygmy seahorse © Emily S. Damstra

Illustration of Christmas tree worm © Emily S. Damstra

Illustration of Christmas tree worm © Emily S. Damstra

Illustration of Yellow-banded pipefish © Emily S. Damstra

Illustration of Yellow-banded pipefish © Emily S. Damstra

Illustration of manatee © Emily S. Damstra

Illustration of manatee © Emily S. Damstra

Two new coins – hawk and cougar

March 7, 2016

I designed these two new releases from the Royal Canadian Mint:

Bullion coin designed by Emily S. Damstra

Cougar bullion coin designed by Emily S. Damstra

The background field on this silver bullion coin has fine lines radiating from the center, which is a nice effect (though a bit difficult to capture in a photograph). Bullion coins are available from coin dealers but not directly from the Mint.

Red-tailed hawk coin designed by Emily S. Damstra

Red-tailed hawk coin designed by Emily S. Damstra

You can see the full specs for this silver coin here. The box it comes in shows my original drawing on the front:

box for red-tailed hawk coin

box for red-tailed hawk coin

Polar Bear Fatness Index

February 26, 2016

Last year I had the opportunity to produce some illustrations for Polar Bears International, an organization devoted to conserving polar bears through research and education. My illustrations of polar bears in various states of fitness became part of a scorecard used to assess body condition. It helps people who observe a bear to visually determine its body condition in the most standardized way possible. Below are three of the ten illustrations. Happy International Polar Bear Day (Feb. 27)!

Polar bear illustrations © Emily S. Damstra

Polar bear illustrations © Emily S. Damstra