Hook: In 1729 Mark Catesby publish the Natural History of Carolina, Florida and the Bahama Islands. This book illustrated the flora (plants) and fauna (animals) found in the new land. Drawing was used as a tool during that time for the study of nature. Artists carefully studied the plants and animals and created drawings and paintings to help explain to people in Europe. A scientific illustrator (botanical illustrator) is a person who paints and sketches plants and animals. Images are usually created life size but may be scaled by showing another object. Plants are usually illustrated showing the upper and reverse sides of leaves, flowers, root systems and seeds.
Do 1: Activity: View Catesby’s Artwork
Students will investigate multiple works of art created by Mark Catesby. They will discuss in small groups what they see, why these images were made, and the significance of this artwork.
Do 2: Activity: Paint like Catesby
The students will choose an image created by Catesby and draw it on the watercolor paper. Then paint their sketch using a similar color scheme and color blending style.
Ecology and ecosystems
The students will research where and how the nature item is part of the ecosystem where it is found.
Career Connections: Science Illustrators- Creating visuals for science displays, journals, and textbooks.
Demonstration: Observational illustrations
As a person creates it is important to observe what you really see. Rely on your eyes. Relying on memory will provide an inaccurate image. Students should consider the following questions as they investigate Catesby’s artwork.
- What do you notice in the images? (plants, animals, insects)
- What other objects do you see in the image?
- Why are there other objects? (to compare size, to show what other species are in that environment)
- What elements of art such as color, texture, space and value could be used to demonstrate the detail of the image
1. Observe and investigate
Distribute copies of Catesby’s images to the students allow them to discuss in small groups what they see. Then share what they have found. List the findings on the whiteboard.
Allow the students to choose an image from Catesby’s work to sketch onto practice paper paying close attention to the details and sizing of the images. Consider the
environment and make notes regarding the habitat and other animals and plants.
3. Final Product
The students will use their sketches and observational notes to create a final work onto watercolor paper, sketching first then adding watercolors paying close attention to the
details and patterns found in the artwork
Design from Nature
If available, allow students to take a nature walk and draw and paint directly from nature just as Catesby did.
Write an artist’s statement
Students will write a paragraph describing their artwork and the observations they made.
Complete a Self-Evaluation, Catesby/Elements of Art Quiz and project rubric.