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!