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The Guild of Natural Science Illustrators (GNSI) held their 2016 National conference at the University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC), in Santa Cruz, California during the first week of July.  Having never been to that part of California before, I was looking forward to seeing the redwoods and the ocean and decided to spend the week after the conference on a vacation with my husband.  Over the course of two weeks, I managed to take over 3900 pictures with 4 different cameras, including my phone.  It’s taken some time to go over my enthusiastic efforts to capture the beauty of the area, but the process has begun.

Everything seems to be different in California, from the architecture to the landscapes to the plants, coming from my Midwestern perspective.

The campus was beautiful with stands of redwoods towering over us, light filtering through the branches making patterns on the forest floor.  I fell in love instantly!  Whenever I had a chance, I worked on a sketch of a group of them by Cowell College.

Different flowers were in bloom as well as interesting succulents.

A resident turkey greeted us on campus as well as a different looking squirrel!

Mornings greeted us with a blanket of fog, but that generally burnt off by noon or so.

Morning fog © 2016 Karen A. Johnson

Morning fog
© 2016 Karen A. Johnson

Monday morning the conference started with a plenary talk by John Muir Laws, a nature journaling “evangelist” who encouraged us to document the wonders of nature around us in our sketchbook and to really learn to observe by quantifying data, using verbal descriptions and drawing more than just a “pretty picture”.  It was a lot to take in, but here’s a recent sketch where I’ve tried to do that.

John Muir Laws talk © 2016 Karen A. Johnson

John Muir Laws talk
© 2016 Karen A. Johnson

Day 46 Beebalm study

Field sketching in the Antarctic by Terri Nelson was another interesting talk.  She was persistent in applying for this residency as it took 4 years to happen! It was amazing how much beautiful work she got done in such harsh conditions.

Terri Nelson and work from Antarctica © 2016 Karen A. Johnson

Terri Nelson and work from Antarctica
© 2016 Karen A. Johnson

The day ended with a collaborative mural painting, but that will be for another post!  Enjoy!