The Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve Quarter

Native plants and the insects they support are subjects I’m passionate about, so when the opportunity arose for me to submit a design for the America the Beautiful quarter featuring Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve in Kansas, I was thrilled. There are many facets to this National Park Service gem, but the main one is that it preserves some of the last remaining tallgrass prairie ecosystems in North America. Tallgrass prairies are one of the world’s rarest…

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The Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve Quarter

Native plants and the insects they support are subjects I’m passionate about, so when the opportunity arose for me to submit a design for the America the Beautiful quarter featuring Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve in Kansas, I was thrilled. There are many facets to this National Park Service gem, but the main one is that it preserves some of the last remaining tallgrass prairie ecosystems in North America. Tallgrass prairies are one of the world’s rarest…

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American Innovation: The Telephone

There’s no doubt that Alexander Graham Bell’s invention and then commercialization of the telephone in the late 19th century had—and continues to have—a major impact on peoples’ lives. His experiments took place in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, so it’s fitting that the Massachusetts dollar in the United States Mint’s American Innovation $1 Coin series highlights the invention of the telephone.  The Statue of Liberty graces the obverse side of all coins in this series, and…

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A fossil worm new to science, but half a billion years old

About a year ago I was finalizing an illustration of a very special fossil invertebrate that hadn’t yet been officially named or described. It is special for a number of reasons: • The fossil is from the famous Burgess Shale formation in British Columbia, Canada, a World Heritage Site that’s remarkable because its fossils are from a period in Earth’s history when complex life was first evolving, and because the soft parts of the animals…

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Interview and Virtual Exhibit of book illustrations

CreatedHere Magazine is a publication and website showcasing New Brunswick artists, and despite my Ontario address my work appears in the magazine’s latest feature. It’s a virtual exhibit of the illustrations I created for New Brunswick author Stephen B. Heard’s recent book, Charles Darwin’s Barnacle and David Bowie’s Spider. I’ve posted a few of these illustrations and written about that project before, but the virtual exhibit displays 15 of the book illustrations alongside relevant excerpts…

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An Early Jurassic ammonoid

This past April I completed a commission for amateur paleontologist W.C. (Cory) Brimblecombe, who asked me to create a painting of an Early Jurassic ammonoid fossil. (Ammonoids are extinct relatives of squid.) Cory envisioned a collage of four components: the fossil specimen in two views, a reconstruction of the living animal in color, and a map of the area where he collected the fossil. The first challenge was that I would not have access to…

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Illustrating grassland birds in their habitat

Last fall, I began an illustration commissioned by the wonderful people at Bird Ecology and Conservation Ontario (BECO), a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting wild bird conservation through research and education. I worked closely with BECO’s Executive Director and Wildlife Biologist Zoé Lebrun-Southcott and Research Scientist Andrew Campomizzi to develop their vision of a fairly complex illustration showing an agricultural landscape in two seasons, populated with some of Ontario’s songbirds and their hidden nests. Zoé’s…

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The Coin World Podcast

Coin World is a website and magazine that deals with all facets of numismatics. Coin World also has a podcast where hosts Jeff Starck and Chris Bulfinch discuss coins, delve into numismatic history, and interview people who are involved in numismatics. Sometimes the interviewees are coin designers; in Episode 52 I was invited to speak about about my experiences designing coins for the United States and for Canada. The interview can be heard here; it…

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Ocean sunfish tattoo tribute

Once in awhile, people seek my permission to use one of my illustrations as the basis for their tattoo. Most recently, Shumpei Maruyama asked about using my illustration of the ocean sunfish (Mola mola) for some skin art. Shumpei is a PhD candidate in Integrative Biology who is studying coral-algal symbiosis, but has long had an interest in the Mola mola because “the name is goofy as heck, they’re enormous, they classify as plankton in…

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Charles Darwin’s Barnacle and David Bowie’s Spider

As someone who enjoys any compelling story that’s well told, I’m a fan of Stephen B. Heard‘s new book Charles Darwin’s Barnacle and David Bowie’s Spider; How Scientific Names Celebrate Adventurers, Heroes, and Even a Few Scoundrels, published by Yale University Press March 17, 2020. It’s full of thoughtfully considered stories behind the names that scientists give to species, and I think people of all backgrounds will find it to be engrossing, accessible, and delightful. The author is an evolutionary ecologist…

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