The slipper snail will be getting some good press soon. My first bit of news is that the paper Eric, Johann, and I worked on with Dr. Sandra Shumway and Dr. Evan Ward entitled “Observations on Feeding in the Atlantic Slipper Limpet, Crepidula fornicata L., with Special Reference to the ‘Mucus Net’ ” will be published in the spring edition of the Journal of Shellfish Research. Sandy wondered out loud how many scientific papers are out there where an entire family is listed as authors for their contributions to the work. For Eric, it means another co-authored paper. For Johann, it means the first scientific paper on which he has been listed as an author. For me, it means the first time any of my illustrations will have been published. I am now officially a scientific illustrator.
Eric wrote the light microscopy section of the paper, as well as other parts of the paper. He did a lot of computer layout and design work. He designed the experiment that all the students who were involved did as student work. Johann helped take video of the slipper snails feeding under the microscope, which was the video used by all the students who did work on the paper. He spent roughly two hours for every actual hour of video for which he was responsible, watching, categorizing, and recording all feeding and defecation events. Johann’s student work of 48 hours of video analysis earned him authorship.
I drew two illustrations. The first one is of a slipper snail from the underside. The second is a close-up of the gill structure with the snail’s head turned to the left side. My first drawing was in graphite, but I quickly realized that would not show up in print as well as pen and ink. Several drawings and many drafts later, I came up with the illustrations that are being used in the paper. Once the paper has been published, I will be able to post pictures.
Previous illustrations printed in other papers over the past 80 years have not been entirely anatomically correct. This paper is correcting misconceptions of how the slipper snail feeds. Because my drawings are a significant contribution to the paper, they decided to give me authorship, not just credit for my illustrations, which I did not expect. Sandy was impressed with what I did and said I should do this professionally. Considering she doesn’t dole out compliments lightly and has many years of experience working with professional scientific illustrators and is the editor of several scientific journals, that’s quite a compliment.
As an aside, I also did some translation work for Sandy and Evan. A paper written by Werner included a section on the slipper snail, but it was written in German and there are no translations of that part of the paper. Sandy and Evan wanted to know what he wrote and if there was anything new to address in their current paper. I never thought my German would come in handy for that.
My second piece of news is that I had a small run of giclée prints of my tulip drawing made. A friend bought one. I have the prints for sale on consignment at Bank Square Books. One of them sold at Christmas. Of course I’d hoped for more sales, but at least I’m putting myself out there and I’m learning the process. My part-time job as sidelines assistant at Bank Square Books is also teaching me the retail side of other possible ways my art could be used as a source of income: cards, calendars, postcards, stationary, notecards, mugs, trays, etc.
My third bit of news is that the spring semester has started for the Connecticut Natural Science Illustrators classes at Yale University in New Haven, CT. I am taking the Beginning and Continuing Oil Painting class with Jan Prentice. Our first class was Saturday. A classmate from landscape oil painting, Andrea, is taking this course at the same level as I am. She and I were assigned the task of painting two white eggs, one casting a shadow on the other, on a white background so that they look three dimensional and properly sit in their space. The lesson of the day: white isn’t white.
Most of the other students I know from other classes. They are starting at the beginning with value scales and familiarization of the tools of the trade. It wasn’t long ago that I was where they are now. I know I have a long way to go before I’m ready to strike out on my own. As I joked in class, the training wheels aren’t ready to come off yet. But remembering where I used to be helped me see how far I’ve already come. I’m on my way!