Yellow swallowtail drawing on bookshelf.

Col­ored pen­cil draw­ing of Old World Swal­low­tail by Tamara Heupel.

With a lot of hem­ming and haw­ing on my part and a lot of urg­ing on Eric and Johann’s part, I started tak­ing art classes again. Eric received an email to Yale Peabody Museum mem­bers about the sci­en­tific illus­tra­tion pro­gram the museum cre­ated with Con­necti­cut Nat­ural Sci­ence Illus­tra­tors. Classes would be held at the Yale Peabody Museum Com­mu­nity Edu­ca­tion Cen­ter at the Yale Cam­pus. Eric sug­gested I sign up for some classes to see how I liked sci­en­tific illus­tra­tion. I was wor­ried about the money, but also whether or not I would do well. I hadn’t taken reg­u­lar art classes since I was 10. I’ve done some things on my own now and then, but noth­ing spec­tac­u­lar. How­ever, my desire to develop my draw­ing skills won out in the end.

Broad-banded swallowtail drawing by Tamara Heupel.

Broad-banded Swal­low­tail draw­ing by Tamara Heupel.

Because I obvi­ously love but­ter­flies so much, the first sci­en­tific illus­tra­tion class I signed up for was the one about but­ter­flies. A few years ago, I drew the but­ter­flies for my busi­ness logo. My favorite draw­ing is the yel­low swal­low­tail. But since I drew it free­hand, it didn’t turn out per­fectly sym­met­ri­cal. After the 4 class series, I now know how to improve future draw­ings. I also feel bet­ter about my yel­low swal­low­tail draw­ing. It may have mis­takes, but it is where I was at the time. One of my class­mates said it was still good and “wants to be framed”, not kept hid­den in my sketch­book. My draw­ing now sits hap­pily in a frame on a small easel on one of the liv­ing room bookshelves.

We mea­sured real but­ter­flies and drew one half as exactly as pos­si­ble onto trac­ing paper. Then we folded the trac­ing paper on the halfway mark and traced our draw­ing on the back of the trac­ing paper. When you open the folded paper, voila! Sym­met­ri­cal but­ter­flies. From there the draw­ings could be trans­ferred to paper or over­laid with mylar and col­ored in with col­ored pen­cil. I only com­pleted 2 out­line draw­ings and one col­ored draw­ing dur­ing the class, but I have more but­ter­flies I can draw on my own and a good resource for future supplies.

Northern moon snail shell drawing by Tamara Heupel.

North­ern moon snail shell draw­ing by Tamara Heupel.

My sec­ond class just ended about two weeks ago. This class focused on graphite and draw­ing basics. The main focus of the class was draw­ing exer­cises to prac­tice dif­fer­ent tech­niques, which we then applied to a few draw­ings. The sub­jects seemed sim­ple at first: a pile of rocks, a head of gar­lic, a shell. But these draw­ings quickly became very com­pli­cated once we started to really see the objects with all the shad­ows and high­lights. My two best draw­ings out of the class were of the rocks and the shell. I hope they decide to offer a more advanced graphite class in the fall.

Study of three rocks by Tamara Heupel.

Study of three rocks by Tamara Heupel.