More mural progress

Painting a mural is no joke! We have a huge wall (8′x16′) to paint and with both of us working full time, it’s hard to find large blocks of time to dedicate to this project. What’s more, because of the public nature of the project, there’s the added component of questions, comments, and other interruptions. While that’s all fine and good, it does slow us down.

But despite all the excuses (work, weather, other projects, life), we’ve recently been motivated to get back to work by the presence of new murals going up around us and a run of spectacularly gorgeous days. Plus, it would be embarrassing if it took us a whole year to get this done!

So back to work we are and we’ve made some significant progress over the past couple of days. Enjoy!




Speaking of Monarchs….

A friend of mine posted this recently and it was so important, so relevant, that I have to share:

If those numbers don’t paint a clear picture of what is happening, particularly with the eastern populations of our Monarchs, I don’t know what does. It just doesn’t get more serious than this in terms of population crash.

Monarchs on my mind

With so much information available about global climate change, the potential impacts it will have on us in the future, and the impacts these changes are having on us now, I think it sometimes easy to overlook the ways that shifts in precipitation patterns, temperature ranges, fire cycles, and various other components of climate can impact other creatures. Furthermore, the introduction of non-native species, disruption of wilderness areas, increased development of open spaces, the threats of air and water pollution as well as many other factors also place immense pressure on ecosystems where inter-species relationships have developed over millennia.

Monarch butterflies are a well-known and well-documented case in point. Female monarchs lay their eggs exclusively on milkweed plants (Asclepias sp.) and the Monarch larvae feed exclusively on milkweed. Without milkweed, the reproductive cycle of the Monarch butterfly is disrupted and the species suffers considerably.

It is my hope that the circular layout of this drawing serves as a reminder that all of our lives are cyclical and that we have to attend to all components of the cycle in order to thrive.


Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) and Milkweed (Asclepias californica)

Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) and Milkweed (Asclepias californica)

an updated portfolio

Douglas Fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii menziesii)

I am in the process of applying to be an artist-in-residence at the California Academy of Sciences for the spring/summer 2014. Toward that end, I have complied a new portfolio showcasing a range of my work over the last five years. Please see the link below to a PDF of my portfolio.

M_Gnekow_portfolio_arts residency

sketches from Maui

This turtle is probably more than 50 years old. The shell was about 3.5 feet long by about 2 feet wide.

A family wedding took me to Maui last week. After a couple of days of festivities, I was free to explore the island a bit. One morning, I went to the top of Haleakala volcano to watch the sun rise and also search for the endangered Nene goose, the state bird of Hawai’i. I was […]

mural progress

After priming the wall, I started work on the first layer of paint. This will be the foundation for all the detailed work to come.





mural painting, step one

Step one: putting the drawing on the wall. Tonight I started this process many furry friends join me, including one skunk, four raccoons, and two deer. Look closely at this photo and you’ll see the skunk running under my step ladder.


birds at the Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History

Recent additions to my project Birds We Love to Hate will be on exhibit at the Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History for the month of August. The opening will be part of the First Friday Santa Cruz events for the month of August. Please come join me on Friday, August 2 at the museum […]

summer sketching

I’ve been lax on uploading my sketches from this spring and early summer. But I was inspired this weekend by going to draw in a friend’s garden. We had so many options to choose from: abundant chard, flowering onion, new squash blossoms, green tomatoes, fresh leaves on pepper and potato plants, lush lavender plants filled with bees. Her parents live next door and have a tree swallow family in residence so I also got to sketch them. Take a look.

Art of Nature 2013

It’s that time of year again! The Art of Nature exhibit will be opening at the Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History on April 6, 2013. This is the annual exhibit of the California chapter of the Guild of Natural Science Illustrators (GNSI). I have three new pieces of work in this show, including the big feather piece I did back in the fall. I will also be participating in the live demo on May 3 from 5-8 PM. This is part of the First Friday Santa Cruz events for the month of May.

The First Friday event is a great way to engage with the public while talking a little bit about what I do. Typically for these types of demos, I pull up the video feeds for a couple of cameras on bird nests around the country and make sketches from the images on the live video feed. In past years, I have used the Great Blue Heron and Red-tailed Hawk cameras hosted by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, the nest cam on the Decorah, IA Bald Eagle nest, and the nest cams for both the San Francisco and San Jose Peregrine Falcon nests. In years past, the Peregrine eyasses (chicks) have been just little balls of fuzz but this year the San Jose and San Francisco nests laid eggs almost a full month before their typical lay date so it will be interesting to see where the chicks are in terms of development in May. Hopefully, we’ll still have young birds in the nests by then! I’ll bring drawings from past years so we can compare.

Hope to see you there!




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