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SONSI in Lindsay

September 24, 2014
poster for SONSI exhibit designed by Kimberly Chin

poster for SONSI exhibit designed by Kimberly Chin

Beginning today,* The Lindsay Gallery in Lindsay, Ontario is featuring an exhibit of artwork from members of the Southern Ontario Nature and Science Illustrators. I am exhibiting five works, including the fish in the poster above. Please join us at the Closing Reception October 18!

*Please note that the Gallery hours have changed since we originally organized this exhibit. The poster above has the correct hours and dates.

Autumn is here!

September 23, 2014
1 oz Fine Silver coin - Maple Canopy: Autumn Allure - designed by Emily s. Damstra

1 oz Fine Silver coin – Maple Canopy: Autumn Allure – designed by Emily S. Damstra

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.

Davisville illustration featured at Symbiartic

September 7, 2014


For the third year in a row, September is SciArt Blitz month at Symbiartic. Today’s featured artwork is one of my own – the illustration I created showing an 1825 settlement along Ontario’s Grand River. See the post here.

A seahorse in Canada??

June 30, 2014

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:

1/25 OZ Pure Gold Coin - Seahorse - designed by Emily S. Damstra

1/25 OZ Pure Gold Coin – Seahorse – designed by Emily S. Damstra

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.

Fourth Coast Illuminated exhibit

June 4, 2014

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:

Illustration of Davisville, a settlement of First Nations peoples along Ontario's Grand River in about 1825.

Illustration of Davisville, an early 1800s settlement in Southern Ontario. © Emily S. Damstra

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:


Bee Exhibit illustrations at the Canada Agriculture and Food Museum

May 12, 2014
Bee exhibit at the Canadian Museum of Agriculture

Bee exhibit at the Canada Museum of Agriculture and Food

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.

My yellow jacket illustration at the Canada Agriculture and Food Museum

My yellow jacket illustration at the Canada Agriculture and Food Museum

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.

Clydesadale at the Canada Agriculture and Food Museum

Clydesdale at the Canada Agriculture and Food Museum


In silver: Polar Bear leaps from one ice floe to another

April 9, 2014
$50 for $50 Fine Silver Coin - Polar Bear (2014) illustrated by emily S. Damstra

$50 for $50 Fine Silver Coin – Polar Bear (2014) illustrated by Emily S. Damstra

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.


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