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Occasional news related to my natural science illustrations


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It’s finally Spring!

 

After much delay, I think Spring has arrived here in Southern Ontario. Yesterday I saw the first butterfly of the year, this Mourning Cloak:

My photo of a Mourning Cloak butterfly

My photo of a Mourning Cloak butterfly

It’s a bit of a thrill for me to spot this butterfly in the woods for the first time each year; it always seems surprising to see them on chilly spring days.

It’s an appropriate season to post one of my most recent illustrations, this Shenandoah salamander (Plethodon shenandoah), since it’s the time of year here in Ontario when salamanders come out to breed (though this is not a local species):

Illustration of Shenandoah salamander © Emily S. Damstra

Illustration of Shenandoah salamander © Emily S. Damstra

The salamander illustration, done with watercolor and gouache paints, will end up on an interpretive sign at the Smithsonian National Zoological Park. I have illustrated over a thousand animals during my career but this is the very first time I’ve illustrated a salamander. I really enjoyed the challenge of painting an animal with smooth, wet, reflective skin (and I relished the absence of fur, feathers, and scales).

Also just in time for spring is the recent release of this coin from the Royal Canadian Mint, the design for which I worked on last summer:

My photo of the 2013 Maple Tree Canopy (Spring) coin

My photo of the 2013 Maple Tree Canopy (Spring) coin that I designed.

A nicer image and more information about the 38 mm silver coin is available at the Mint’s website here. This tree is a sugar maple, one of my favorite tree species. The specimen that inspired this illustration is a local one.

 

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