Saturday, January 16, 2010


Awarded BEST IN SHOW with the Guild of Natural Science Illustrators, 2010
Awarded BEST IN SHOW/Ralph Sweet Award with the Association of Medical Illustrators, 2010

Seventy-five feet long and seven feet high; four habitats and 185 species.

Each of the two images above represents 38 feet of the mural.

This digital mural will be installed at the new Apalachicola National Estuarine Research Reserve Visitor Center (Apalachicola, FL) in summer 2010. The two BOXES are representative of where live exhibit tanks will go, featuring some of the animals that visitors will see right next to the tanks, in the mural.

The piece is pretty huge, so please browse through the detailed sections below.
Keep scrolling for more detailed images, or go to my website.

Giant Gag Grouper and Short Bigeye

Speckled Hind and Pompano

Bottlenose Dolphins Above, Invertebrates Below

Lightning Whelk, Phyllodocid Worm, Horseshoe Crab, White Shrimp (barely visible), Surf Clam, Sand Dollar.

Diving Pelican

I like this image so I have included two.
The fish here are Gulf Menhaden and Striped Mullet, two favorite food species of Pelicans and other fish.

ANERR Mural, Barrier Beach Section: Willets and Sea Turtle

We found a Sea Turtle shell on the beach. I took a photo of it. I used that shell, even though it was old, discolored, and decaying, as the shell here. Minor Photoshop adjustments, paint the head and limbs, and voila!
Can't do that very often.

Barrier Island Gulf Side

This is the sandy slope from the Gulf of Mexico and inward to the island. Full of Sea Oats and other grasses, the dunes are a very pleasing sight.
For this section the mural felt very constrained, since we had only the space we had, and the actual slope is very long and gradual. I had to force it in order to make it fit.

Here is an American Oystercatcher searching for food (a Mole Crab), as well as Ghost Crabs, Royal Terns, lots of Railroad Vine, Sea Purslane, Sea Rocket and Beach Morning Glory.

Which reminds me... when I was here it was just the most beautiful day and all the flowers were out. The Morning Glories seemed so aptly named.

Barrier Island Community

Countless species live on the barrier islands, in a fairly unique and complicated habitat.

Some of the many plant species I illustrated for this section include Slash Pine, Saw Palmetto, Gallberry, Yaupon Holly, Green Briar Vines, Dwarf Huckleberry, Prickly Pear Cactus, Wax Myrtle, Sweet Bay, Sand Live Oak, Myrtle Oak, Florida Rosemary, Woody Goldenrod, Blazing Star, Conradina Mint, and Saw Palmetto (not all are in this image).

Animals illustrated here include a Ground Dove, Six-Lined Racerunner, Monarch Butterfly, sea turtle eggs, and a Sigmod Cotton Rat.

Barrier Island Community

This image is typical Oak/Rosemary scrub habitat.

Animals illustrated here include: Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake, Gulf Coast Box Turtle, Gray Catbird, Chuck Will’s Widow, Rufous-sided Towhee, Gulf Fritillary butterfly, American Toad, and Gopher Tortoise.

Bald Eagle in Slash Pine; Barrier Island, Bay Side

The circle is an Interactive part of this exhibit; what you see is the "reveal"... a close-up view of a Fiddler Crab and Periwinkle Snail. On top of this will be the "normal" view . Visitors can lift the outside panel to see the close-up view underneath.

Island Side of Apalachicola Bay

Like the inland side, the shallows hold great entertainment potential if you take the time to look and watch. Countless fish and invertebrates can be found.

Middle of Apalachicola Bay

Atlantic Stingray, Bonnethead Shark, Gulf Menhaden, Sea Grass, Canonball Jelly

Feather Blenny and Brittle Star

The shallows of the Apalachicola Bay are teeming with little critters which you may not notice at first glance. We were stuck on the island by the low tide during one of my trips and the most fun during those hot sunny hours was sitting on the jetty and watching all the fish and invertebrates doing their thing. The Feathered Blenny is easily missed on the actual mural, thus I posted this very-up-close view. Let's face it- Blennies are very funny, very perky guys to see!

Clapper Rail and Oysters, Mainland side of Apalachicola bay

River Otter

Alligator Snapping Turtle and Spotted Sunfish

River Habitat, watercolor background; starting point

This is what the River section background looked like before reworking it.
In fact it what you see here actually HAS been altered: I erased the sky I had painted and added a digital sky, as you can probably tell.
You can see some of the watercolor form in the background of the river section, but it is quite obscured by what was added over it later. This sort of watercolor was done loosely on board at about 30 inches wide. It then gets enlarged to cover an area of about 17 feet in the mural.

You can see even in the post below that I changed a lot of the tree trunks. I found that they vary quite a bit in real life and many species are difficult to tell apart. For the mural however I tried to be consistent in order for species to be recognizable.

Suwanee Cooters, ANERR Mural, River Habitat

ANERR Mural, River Section (middle)

Included here are a White-Tailed Deer, Black-Crowned Night Heron, Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly, Spider Lillies, Red-Belly Watersnake, Barbour's Map Tyrtle, Ogeechee Tupelo, Bald Cypress. Palmetto, etc.

Much of this was created in watercolor, scanned and reworked digitally.
The alligator was a composite of two of my photographs with digital adjustments - one photo was sharp and clear, and the other was not. I combined them at the neck, and thus the strategic placement of grasses about the armpit region! They blend o-kayyy in the end, but the grass sure helps disguise the seam.

Red-Shouldered Hawk

Far Right, River section, ANERR mural

Red-Bellied Turtle, Prothonotary Warbler, Raccoon, Poison Ivy, Blue Flag Iris, Tupelo, Cypress Knees, Gray Squirrel, etc.
The strange circle you see is part of another interactive. What you see is the "reveal"... the inside-view of a Crayfish chimney, with the Crayfish inside. On top of this will be the outside-view of the chimney. Visitors can lift the outside panel to see what is underneath.
This is about a six-foot section of mural.

Pacific Northwest Kelp Forest Ecosystem

Ecosystem and food web of the kelp forest.
From microscopic plankton to huge Humpback Whales, this food web also incorporates Cod, Haddock, Snapper, Anchovies, Sea Lions, Killer Whales, Sea Urchins, anemones, Sea Otters and of course, Giant Kelp.

Continental Rift; Geology Exhibit, NC State Museum of Natural Sciences

One piece of many from a large geology exhibit. The original is watercolor and gouache on board and was created at about 30" width, to be reproduced larger.
For more geology or earth science images, please see my website under "Earth Science",, or, contact me:

Mountains To The Sea Exhibit, North Carolina State Museum of Natural Sciences

Six illustrations, done for the NC State Museum's "Mountains To The Sea" exhibit: showing how small mountain streams and tributaries eventually make their way to the coast, crossing lengthy terrain, increasing in size, and encountering changing factors such as man-made dams.

This is a large exhibit and the pieces are reproduced at about 30 inches width each; they were created at about 2/3 that size, in watercolor on board.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Mountains To The Sea Exhibit, North Carolina State Museum of Natural Sciences (Mountain Section; part one)

The first of six illustrations for the NCStateMNS: western mountain precipitation makes its way to streams, starting the long trip to the shore. Callout emphasizing the smallest tributaries and their contribution to the overall movement of water eastward.

Rivers to the Sea Exhibit, Dam Section; part four

Fourth in the series for NCStateMNS; The building river encounters a dam.

North Carolina, Rivers to the Sea Exhibit, part 6

The last and coastal portion where the rivers finally merge with the ocean.

Coral Reef and Levels of Organization

Illustration for high school biology text depicting the divisions of organization of the biosphere, from the organism itself through population, biological community, ecosystem, biome, the biosphere itself, and a viewpoint taking into consideration the whole planet.

Ocean Zones

Oceanic zones include, on a large scale, the benthic and pelagic zones. Within these are the abyssal, aphotic, photic, mesopelagic, and epipelagic. Flora and fauna within generally remain within their zones.

Southeastern Estuary

Illustration for a high school biology text, depicting some of the many species that might inhabit an estuary: Wood Stork, Bald Eagle, Cormorant, Oysters, Blue crab, shrimp, Redfish, Flounder, Sturgeon and Sea Turtle.

Estuaries are places of transition - from fresh water to salt water and from land to sea. They are among the most diverse ecosystems.

Fresh Water Pond Zonation

The pond or lake zones include the littoral, limnetic, and profundal.
This is an illustration for a high school biology text.

Big Bang To First Life Mural, part one

This mural was created for the North Carolina State Museum of Natural Sciences (and was done prior to my discovering the benefits of working digitally!). It is intended to be read from left to right.

Painted in two panels 36" wide each, to appear adjacently and enlarged on walls to a total of 47 feet in length.

1st panel: Big Bang: the entire universe of matter and space was condensed to a single point, which started expanding instantaneously. Subatomic particles - atoms of H and He are thrown out in all directions. Clouds of hydrogen and helium collect in Dark Galaxies. Twinkling galaxies develop.
Focus: one Spiral galaxy: The Milky Way.
Star Formation - within Milky Way, Our Sun appears, surrounded by a particle cloud which coalesces to form the planets.

Big Bang Mural, part 2

2nd panel: Solar System: Our Sun and Planets
Proto Earth grows in size, with molten rock surface
Focus 1: Earth's Crust cools and hardens
Focus 2: Seas and continents form due to chemical weathering
Amino Acids and proteins are formed
DNA forms; The first cells appear.

Detail, Big Bang to First Life: Part 2

From twinkling galaxies comes one spiral galaxy which will produce our Milky Way, and within that, stars which include our Sun, and the particle cloud which will become our planets.

Detail, Big Bang to First Life: DNA Production and First Cells

Amino acids, proteins, DNA, first cells

Salt Marsh Food Web Mural, 5'6" X 9', acrylic on board

The food chain of a New England salt marsh is illustrated in this mural. The species here include: Great Blue Heron,Green Heron, Canada Geese, Belted KIngfisher, Black Duck, Salt Marsh Sharp-tailed Sparrow, Willet, Osprey, Northern Harrier (Marsh Hawk), Salt Marsh Grass, Seaside Lavender, Glasswort, Brackish Water Fiddler Crab, Horseshoe Crab, Periwinkle Snail, Softshell Clam, Ribbed Mussel, Clamworm, algae and diatoms, zooplankton, American Eel, Killifish/minnows, Silverside, Raccoon, Green Darner (Dragonfly), and Red Fox.

Barrier Beach Island Cross-Section (left side)

This was a mural done for the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge and Plum Island Visitor Center in Newburyport, MA
It was designed to illustrate the different habitats between the outer beach and inland marsh on a barrier island, which include: beach, primary dune, secondary dune, scrub/thicket, freshwater marsh, and saltwater marsh.

It was created at about 1/2 the final size. The original is 10 inches X 5 1/2 feet, in acrylic on board.

Barrier Beach Island Cross-section continued (right side)

This part of the image depicts the upland and lowland marshes and graduation to the brackish or partial-fresh-water marsh.
The final size of this mural (both continuous parts) is around 10 feet.