Coloring Book Contribution – The Atlantic Coast

Last summer, as I continued work on the wildflower drawings for the Van Hoosen Farm project, a wonderful opportunity came up to contribute illustrations to a coloring book project being produced by GNSI member, Cordelia Norris of Luna Creative. The project features illustrations of marine life found in the North Atlantic and on coastal beaches, dunes, maritime forests, and marshes and is titled, “All Along the Atlantic: From Open Ocean to Cypress Swamp.”

Her first book, co-authored by both Cordelia and illustrator Suzanne Matheson and edited by Joseph Cadotte, is titled “Hatchlings: A Coloring Book Anthology,” and celebrates birds of North America and features 35 illustrations by some of the leading natural history illustrators working today. In addition, twenty-five percent of the proceeds go to the Young Center, a human rights organization providing help to immigrant children.

For this latest effort, Cordelia put out a call to fellow GNSI members to find illustrators to contribute. Excited to read about the opportunity, I knew I would love to participate. Many years spent on vacation in South Carolina, including an annual pilgrimage to Brookgreen Botanical Gardens in Murrells Inlet, SC, meant that I had lots of reference photos of Atlantic coast subject matter! Cordelia sent details about the project to each artist who expressed interest and each person could choose species they were interested in illustrating. Many of the illustrators were drawing marine life, so I was excited to see choices in the section for maritime forest (yay, botanicals!)

I knew I would only have time to do one or two illustrations, so I chose two iconic tree species of the region, magnolia and live oak. Because it is a coloring book, the artwork has to be a line drawing that has some interest and details, but not too much.

The magnolia was pretty straightforward. I settled on the view of a magnolia blossom surrounded by its large, glossy leaves. I included the seed pod after the petals fall away as well. A bit of back and forth with Cordelia resulted in a bee for added interest. (Free coloring page download!)

Magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora). Free coloring page download!

The live oak was a bit more challenging. I originally wanted to do a view of the whole tree. It is such an iconic tree and instantly recognizable, especially if you have spent any time around them. However, the Spanish moss that graces them makes it a little tricky (at least for me!) to produce a coloring book style illustration that was satisfactory. Fortunately, I also had a close-up reference photo of the wonderfully busy surface of a live oak branch. In this view, Spanish moss, ferns, live oak leaves and bark details made for great subject. I did a detailed, but coloring-book appropriate line drawing and added a beautiful little Carolina wren perched on top. I was happy to see it chosen for the verso of the title page in the finished book! (Free coloring page download!)

Live oak branch (Quercus virginiana). Free coloring page download!

In the end, over 45 illustrations by leading natural history illustrators were included in the book along with informative text by Cathy Meyer. As with the first book, twenty-five percent of the proceeds of “All Along the Atlantic” go to support a chosen organization, in this case the North Carolina Coastal Federation, a member-supported non-profit organization working to protect and restore the coast. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to participate and have my work appear alongside so many artists whose work I admire. If you get a chance, check it out!

Please note that all images are © 2019, Carol F. Creech, All Rights Reserved and for personal use only.

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