Rawlins Takes Students to Guild of Natural Science Illustrators, Named President Elect

By Purnell T. Cropper | August 5, 2011

Art Professor Scott Rawlins attended a professional meeting for the Guild of Natural Science Illustrators at Evergreen State University in Olympia, Wash., where he was named President Elect of the guild and will become President next year.

Rawlins was joined by students Colin Kelleher, who assisted him with a workshop presentation, and Vanessa Baskin. “I was especially delighted Arcadia helped to sponsor my students’ attendance at the conference,” says Rawlins. “I’ll use this as a model for other institutions to follow.”

“Going to my first GNSI conference is probably one of the most important decisions of my life,” says Baskin. “In addition to having the opportunity to travel and explore areas in Washington state, attending the conference really gave me a clear perspective on what being a scientific illustrator is all about. The work that was in the gallery was intimidating but so inspiring that I had so many ideas after seeing the work and attending the seminars.”

Rawlins and Kelleher teamed up for a presentation on “Survival of a Surface: The History of Coquille Board.”  The pebbled drawing surface known as coquille board has been around for decades and has long been appreciated by many types of artists, notes Rawlins. However, sometime in the 1990s this ground virtually disappeared. Shortly afterward, it was resurrected, albeit in a weaker form. What is the nature of this surface, how has it been employed by artists and illustrators and what is its possible future? Rawlins and Kelleher addressed these questions and more during a participatory lecture on the history of coquille board.

Rawlins also gave a workshop on “Replicating Antiquities.” In the workshop, participants experimented with polymer clay—using different color and texture combinations, adding various non-clay substances, and molding and baking it to create artificial jade, ivory and amber. These models were treated to suggest age. Polymer clay has long been employed to simulate other materials. In fact, it was first used by artisans as a substitute for porcelain, Rawlins adds.