A couple of weeks ago, Diane Sands and I were at the Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History for a demo as part of the First Friday Art Tour. I love doing demos because it gives me a chance to interact with visitors in an informal setting and is a great opportunity to educate people about how scientific illustrators work. I also really enjoy the opportunity to answer questions about my work, materials, and techniques.
Because my work in the current exhibition at the Museum focuses on birds, I wanted what I was doing at the demo to relate in some way. I chose nestcams at Cornell, in Decorah, Iowa, and at City Hall in San Jose as sources of sketching subjects and as a tool for educating visitors about the birds I was drawing.
The light at the Cornell Red-tailed Hawk nestcam faded too quickly for me to make much progress on those drawings so I quickly switched over to the Decorah, IA Bald Eagle nestcam. I made some quick sketches before the camera switched to night-time mode and the birds settled in for the night. Then I moved to the nestcam at San Jose City Hall, where the eyases were about three weeks old. They were fairly cooperative so I had time to make decent sketches of them as well as the adults. Having spent some time watching this cam a few weeks before, I have a good idea which adult is which so I can tell them apart pretty well and made note of that in my sketches.
I spent a lot of time at the demo drawing from the San Jose nestcam and also talking to people about both the birds themselves, the nestcam resources across the country, and also the incredible work that the Santa Cruz Predatory Bird Research Group is doing on behalf of birds of prey. The nestcams are such a powerful educational tool and I am so grateful to be able to use them as a tool in my work as both an artist and an educator.