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  • Writer's pictureBethann Garramon Merkle

Upcoming courses at Harvard Forest, the Glacier Institute & more!

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Drawn to Science – Harvard Forest, Massachusetts

20 January 2015 – An afternoon course focused on adding sketching to the science toolkit, this session is open to all faculty and grad students at Harvard Forest. We’ll discuss the role of visualization in professional work, science in general, and then buckle down and go through a series of drawing skill-building exercises.

Drawn to the Landscape – Harvard Forest, Massachusetts

21 January 2015 – As a guest artist at Harvard Forest, I’ll be leading a full-day nature sketching and journaling course as part of the Forest’s Winter Break Week landscape ecology course. Here’s what the syllabus says about my mini-course:


Drawn to Natural History – Glacier National Park, Montana


This full-day nature sketching and journaling course takes place June 19, 2015 in Glacier National Park. The course is hosted by The Glacier Institute, and is designed as a supplement to their annual Master Naturalist Course. For those taking the MNC, this one-day session will enable you to make the most of your naturalist training by taking illustrated notes with confidence. 

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Visit The Glacier Institute’s website to register, or see below for the course description reads:

Turn back time to an era when art and the natural sciences were inseparable! Following an illustrated talk with special emphasis on local natural history and scientists, participants will learn how to record observations using a combination of sketches and notes. For novices and well-seasoned artists, nature buffs and curious newcomers, the drawing techniques introduced during this workshop offer a strong foundation for those interested in developing nature sketching habits.

Equipment: Please see basic gear list. If you have your own sketching supplies, feel free to bring them. Sketching kits will also be available to purchase. Sketching kits will include a multimedia sketchbook (good for pencil, pen, and light watercolor use), two drawing pencils, one drawing pen, three watercolor pencils, a water brush, and an eraser. Binoculars and field guides are optional. We will bring a few extra pairs to borrow if you don’t have your own.

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Transportation during course: We will be traveling in a Glacier Institute vehicle.

Weather: This course will not be canceled due to weather.

Recommended Reading: 

  1. First Step Series: Sketching and Drawing and The Sierra Club Guide to Sketching in Nature and any other books by Cathy Johnson.

  2. Urban Watercolor Sketching by Felix Scheinberger

  3. A Life in hand: Creating the illuminated Journal by Hannah Hinchman

  4. Keeping a Nature Journal by Clare Walker Leslie & Charles E. Roth or any of Clare’s other books.

  5. The California Native Plant Society field journaling curriculum is a GREAT intro to nature sketching material, whether you’re a teacher or not. It is available for free online at

Anticipated Itinerary:

We’ll begin with a half-hour slide show and discussion to provide historical context relating the arts and natural sciences from pre-history through the modern era. Following this introduction, we’ll spend about 5-6 hours in the field, exploring a variety of observational sketching and journal techniques. We’ll return to Field Camp by about 3:00 PM. Back in the classroom, we’ll spend approximately an hour touching up our sketches, using the Glacier Institute reference library to look up the answers to questions (e.g., species identifications, behavioral questions, etc.). The course will conclude with a voluntary show-and-tell and final discussion, and will end around 4:00 PM.

Additional 2015 workshops

In addition to these two sessions that are already on the calendar, I am working on a few more:

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  1. Drawn to Local Food; In collaboration with good friends in Missoula, MT, I’m working on scheduling a combination sketching/cooking or coffee aficionado course at the newly opened Sunrise Coffee Shop/Moonlight Kitchens.

  2. Additional Montana Courses – while I am in MT in June (and possibly July), I’m working on setting up additional workshops. Possible locations include Butte, Billings, Great Falls, and Helena.

  3. Additional Wyoming/Colorado Courses – Since I’m currently based in Wyoming much of the year, I expect to offer additional classes, and perhaps even a multi-session course or field journal club.

  4. Arizona Courses – My husband is from southern Arizona, and the more time I spend in the desert, the more inspired I am to draw there. I hope to offer at least one workshop in AZ in winter 2015. Possible locations include Phoenix, Tucson, Camp Verde, and Flagstaff.

Scheduling a course or workshop

Outdoor Education: Children learning about nature

contact me ASAP!* I particularly looking to collaborate with:

  1. Professors and high school/elementary teachers interested in using drawing for teaching and assessment (see Artful Science for more info)

  2. Museums, botanical gardens, and other indoor/outdoor facilities with a mission to educate, engage and inspire interest in the arts and sciences (See Artful Science and Drawn to Life for more info)

  3. Nonprofits and government agencies/programs looking to engage the public in conservation, ecology, and/or natural history initiatives (See Artful Science and Drawn to Life for more info)

*As you can tell from my cross-country schedule, I’m happy to travel if you have a budget for that.

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