Christine Elder combines her lifelong loves of art, nature and travel in her work as a biological illustrator, environmental educator and teaching artist.
She’s been blessed to see and sketch wildlife in their native habitats throughout the world including red-eyed tree frogs in Honduras, flying lemurs in Borneo, hummingbirds in Peru and pink-headed warblers in Guatemala.
Christine studied Science Communication at the University of California and also holds Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Biology from California State Universities where see focused on ecology and natural history.
In her work as a professional biological illustrator she has created illustrations and paintings for books, trail signage and museum displays for national and state parks, conservation organizations and scientists. Christine also teaches workshops on nature sketching and leads groups on nature journaling holidays to tropical destinations.
When not in her studio, Christine enjoys working with horses and traveling as a wildlife tour leader for Paradise Birding.
My Art Process
Since my work is aimed at depicting a species as realistically as possible, I use a variety of references to ensure the accuracy of the species’ color, form, posture and behavior.
Ideally, I strive to observe living plants and animals in their native habitats. I will create field sketches in my journal by watching the organism with the naked eye, binoculars or a spotting scope depending upon their distance from me.
If it’s very small, I will use a magnifying glass or take photos with my camera. Sometimes I am asked to draw microscopic organisms such as tiny insects or pollen grains and this is done in a lab with a microscope and the aid of a camera lucida.
I will fill pages of my sketchbook with thumbnail drawings of the organism for as long as I’m graced by its presence. I’ll capture it in as many poses as I can and take copious notes on everything I notice about its anatomy and behavior.
Once back in my studio, I will create a final piece based on these field sketches and observations.
I will nearly always use a variety of additional sources to learn more about the flora and fauna I’m called upon to draw, including photographs, videos, books and interviews with experts in the field.
A finished piece is usually rendered in one of my favorite media including pencil, pen and watercolor.