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 – Ink

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.

Van Hoosen Farm Project – Wildflower Illustrations

Early in 2019, I was contacted by Flutter & Wow Museum Projects about creating some original wildflower illustrations as part of a newly redesigned pioneer family exhibit at the Rochester Hills Museum at Van Hoosen Farm. The Taylor-Van Hoosen family, who lived on this farm for several generations, is the focus of the exhibit and, in particular, their two daughters, Alice and Bertha. Both women were encouraged by their progressive father, Joshua Van Hoosen, to pursue higher education and were among the first women to graduate from the University of Michigan in the late 1800s. (Taylor-Van Hoosen-Jones Family History.)

The book, The Petticoat Surgeon, written in 1947 by Dr. Bertha Van Hoosen, tells the story of her amazing life. In this memoir, Dr. Van Hoosen discusses her childhood home and grounds and how they influenced her. Among the descriptions are mentions of various local wildflowers/plants/trees. Flutter & Wow proposed having original, botanical illustrations created by a local illustrator to be included as part of an interactive exhibit panel. They searched online for a local botanical illustrator and my name popped up!

I was absolutely thrilled to be part of this project and happy that we could work out the details of my contribution. With the Flutter & Wow staff, I gathered information on twelve different botanical subjects and created 5.5″ X 5.5″ original drawings of each. Pencil drafts were approved by Flutter & Wow and then I rendered them in both pen and ink and colored pencil on Fabriano hot press watercolor paper.

Plants included in the list were marsh marigold, maize, bloodroot, elderberry, Michigan lily, tamarack (tree), black walnut (tree), wild grape, hepatica, lady slipper orchid, teaberry and wood sorrel .

Here are all twelve drawings, all together!

As projects go, there are always adjustments and lessons learned along the way. When the drawings were finished, Flutter & Wow was still in the process of finalizing the look of the whole exhibit. We tried several adjustments to my scans, but ultimately, they decided that they needed a different look to the final drawings.

Fear not! Fortunately, I had scanned in the pen drawings before adding color and so with minimal clean-up, I was able to provide them with my line drawings so that their in-house designer could add digital color to match the rest of the exhibit. Whew!

My pen and ink scans, all cleaned up and ready for digital color.

The final exhibit will not be fabricated and installed until later this year (and that may be pushed back due to COVID-19.) However, I am so pleased to have had an opportunity to contribute a small part to this exhibit about the lives of this extraordinary family.

UPDATE (Dec. 2021): Earlier this fall, the final exhibit was installed at Van Hoosen Farm! I love how it turned out. I do wish my original color versions could have been the final, but completely understand that design coherence takes precedence. I am thrilled to have been able to contribute to this lasting exhibit.

Flora on the Farm – Van Hoosen Museum Exhibit

Sketchbook Exchange – Round 3

The Nature Miscellany Sketchbook Exchange began a third trip around the world in 2017. Since life gets in the way for many of us, the sketchbooks took a leisurely time to go to each participant and finally made their way back to the original owners in 2019.

I was pleased to have a chance to draw many of my favorite botanicals for the other participants. Apologies for the dark photos. I just took some quick pictures before sending them on their way.

I began the sketchbook with some beautiful gerbera daisies and left room on the facing page for each artist to sign as they completed the book.
I added a few more colorful bits, a petunia and a dahlia, before I sent this one off.
I finally had a chance to draw the Star Magnolia (Magnolia stellata) in April 2017 for the first book I received.A walk through my favorite place, Matthaei Botanical Gardens, in August 2017 inspired me to tackle Showy Tick-Trefoil from the Great Lakes Garden for the next sketchbook.
The hostas in my garden turn wonderful shades of copper, yellow and green in autumn. I didn’t have time to finish the detailed color pattern in October 2017, but I sort of like it better this way.
The famous Peony Garden at the University of Michigan inspired this rhododendron drawing in May of 2018.
August 2018 brought the ripe berries and green leaves of the Solomon’s Seal from a late summer walk through Matthaei.
Finally, looking for winter inspiration, I went to Matthaei’s conservatory and found this beautiful, purple orchid (Laelia anceps) in January 2019.

When my own book made its way back to me, I found it filled with gorgeous drawings from my artist friends. (note the pen and ink pine cone – I forgot I had done that one in my book before it left!) I think the next round is on hold for the foreseeable future, but I have thoroughly enjoyed participating in such a wonderful project. It has kept me looking for new ideas and pushing myself to try new botanical subjects. A huge thank you to my fellow participants. It is an honor to have your work in my books!