Thursday, July 24, 2008

Guild of Natural Science Illustrators

The Guild of Natural Science Illustrators (GNSI) held its annual meeting this week in Ithaca, New York. This organization includes medical illustrators, bird, insect, and botanical artists, paleoartists, and illustrators who work for natural history museums.

A juried exhibit of art by Guild members is currently showing at the Cornell Campus in Sibley Hall, with about 60/40 digital/traditional media, with detailed paintings of fish, cetaceans, insects, dinosaurs, and plants. Here Michael Rothman appears beside his acrylic painting of a forest floor with flying insects.

The emphasis of the convention is the open sharing of practical skills and techniques. Young artists entering the field of natural science illustration report that they’ve learned a tremendous amount from the presentations of other members of the Guild.

Nearby the convention is the Museum of the Earth, which tells the history of life on earth, concentrating on the fossil heritage of the northeastern United States. The museum's director, Warren D. Allmon, was a keynote speaker at the GNSI convention. A highlight of the 8,000 feet of permanent exhibition space is the Hyde Park Mastodon, above, one of the most complete mastodon skeletons in the world.
Museum of the Earth website, link
GNSI Conference, link.
History of the GNSI, link.


Sean Andrew Murray said...

Wow, that must have been a blast to draw. One of my favorite fossils to draw is the giant sloth skeleton at the Natural History museum in DC. It's amazing, its bones are really wide and strange... great ref for aliens or creatures..... I am going to have to dig that sketch up and post it on my blog.

Is the GNSI event held in the same place every year?

James Gurney said...

Hi, Sean, The GNSI meeting is held in different places in the US, and once was held in Portugal. It's an international organization.

Anonymous said...

Really it's international? I live in Japan. I'm turning 16 August 18th, so I'm a young artist. I've been considering Science Illustration.

Oh, by the way, have you ever read Chemistry and Artist Colors? I really recommend it.

James Gurney said...

Budoseemit, yes, there are artists from all over the world. Some of them who were just out of art school told me they really got a lot out of the classes, workshops, and portfolio sessions. The spirit of the group is incredibly supportive and friendly, and they all love science just as much as they love art.

Super Villain said...

its amazing to me how much digital art has taken over. i still think that traditional media has a certian life to it that digital media has not really come close to, but i think once it does, traditional media is going to be gone in a big way...

it might not be too soon before we see 80/20 , digital to traditional media...

Unknown said...

What a great event! I did not know about it, thanks for the information. I'll keep an eye on it and attend a future one. Hope you are well Jim!

Sean Andrew Murray said...

I couldn't disagree with you more, Super Wu-Man. Technological advances in the field of art don't make other forms of art obsolete. Digital art and painting is just another method for creative people to express themselves, something we all should embrace. There is no replacement for traditional paint and media, but digital art opens up new realms of expression.

I know that I wouldn't be a good digital artist if I hadn't learned traditional painting (in fact, there really shouldn't be much of a difference, fundamentally speaking: all the same rules of color, light, composition, etc. still apply), but I also know that I have learned and continue to learn and grow as an artist faster because of digital media, since it allows me to experiment more easily.

Of course, we still have to use good artistic judgment to identify the difference between good digital painting and bad. Just because there is a new medium, doesn't mean we should change or lower our standards. Great digital painting can actually have a lot of life and energy to it, and the best digital painting isn't always obviously digital... if you are thinking about the medium, no matter what it is, instead of about the painting, then the piece might not be working.

Just something to think about... didn't mean to start a debate on Gurney's blog... sorry Jim!