I thought it appropriate to wait until this first week of fall to post about this coin. Recently released by the Royal Canadian Mint (and 98% sold as of this writing), this coin is the fourth and final one in the series, which began in the spring of 2013. The inspiration for this design featuring three silver maple trees came from a walk through the Guelph Arboretum, home to many silver maples.
Like the first coin in the series, it is hard to appreciate this coin from a photo. In the image above the background looks black but in reality it is brilliant silver, and it sparkles in contrast to the painted foliage. The image of the coin at the RCM’s website shows the background better, but I don’t feel as though it accurately represents the color of the leaves.
When I received an assignment from the Royal Canadian Mint last year to design a coin featuring a Canadian seahorse, I was thrilled to have the opportunity to draw one. I was also surprised to learn that any seahorses, which I think of as tropical fishes, would roam as far north as Canada. Turns out there is one; the Lined Seahorse, Hippocampus erectus, has been found off the coast of Nova Scotia! I had actually drawn this species before (see here) but welcomed another shot at it. Here is my design, recently released by the Royal Canadian Mint:
At just under 14 mm in diameter, it’s a very small coin; nonetheless the RCM engravers did a phenomenal job of capturing the details of this fish, as they did with the first coin in this Sea Creatures series.
The complete specs of the coin are at the RCM website here.
This summer my work will be part of a juried exhibit of natural science illustration at the Kalamazoo Nature Center titled “Fourth Coast Illuminated.” The title refers to the fact that all of the works feature subjects found in the Great Lakes Region. All participants are members of the Guild of Natural Science Illustrators. I entered three works: A snail shell, a fish, and this reconstruction of a First Nations settlement along Ontario’s Grand River:
View this earlier post for more information about the illustration and how it was used. I created the image using graphite and digital color.
The exhibit runs from July 1 to August 30, 2014.
Update: You can now see the 4th Coast works online here. Scroll down to the Gallery Guide.
Update: There is a now a promotional image for this exhibit:
A few years ago I licensed four of my insect illustrations to the Canada Agriculture and Food Museum for use in an exhibit about honey bees. The exhibit designers wanted an interactive way for people to learn to tell the difference between honey bees, bumble bees, and some of the other flying insects we commonly see. They created this cube with three rotating sections; people can turn it to try to match an insect’s head to its thorax and abdomen. The matching is pretty simple thanks to a different color background for each of the four insects – honey bee, bumble bee, yellow jacket, and bald-face hornet.
I recently had the opportunity to visit the Museum in Ottawa and see my illustrations in the bee exhibit. My favorite part of the Museum had to be the friendly, beautiful, majestic Clydesdale horses in the paddock.
First in a new series of $50 coins is this recent release by the Royal Canadian Mint; a polar bear leaping from one ice floe to another. I worked on this design last year. Apologies for the inadequate photograph; it is difficult to photograph shiny coins, especially when they are encased in acrylic! You can see the Mint’s image of the coin here.
Made buoyant and kept warm by their body fat, polar bears are accomplished swimmers. They have been seen swimming several hundred kilometers from land.
Despite their ease moving through the water, polar bears often avoid taking a comparatively short swim by walking a longer distance across ice floes. Sometimes they leap from one ice floe to another rather than get wet. The reasons for this behaviour are not known, but it is possible that the bears use less energy by walking and jumping than they do by entering the cold water and then rolling in the snow to dry off.
I’m not quite ready to post any of my most recent illustrations, so I thought I’d share some pen and ink drawings I was working on a decade ago. I don’t often I work in black and white anymore and it’s been ages since I’ve done any stippling; seeing these drawings again after 10 years makes me want to dig out the ink and pen.
To stay within a limited budget, these illustrations were intended to be fairly quick, emphasizing color patterns without being finicky about details such as fin ray counts. I produced these for the Belle Isle Aquarium for aiding the public in identifying animals in the exhibit tanks, though I have no idea if the illustrations are still in use. The historic Detroit aquarium closed in 2005 but reopened in 2012 and is now operated by the Belle Isle Conservancy and run entirely by volunteers. It is open on Saturdays from 10 AM to 3 PM, with free admission and parking.