• Demos
April 20, 2023

Field Sketching and Observation with Robin

Author and field sketcher Robin Lee Carlson uses her sketchbook to understand ecosystems full of diverse flora and fauna and document the impacts of climate change.

By The Art Toolkit Team

A table covered in supplies: camera gear, books, painting supplies, and a sketchbook open to a drawing of mushrooms and bay laurel.

This is a recording of our Field Sketching and Observation live demo on April 19th, 2023 with Robin Lee Carlson!

In this live demo, we explored techniques Robin uses to get acquainted with places, especially those she studies over time. Robin shared how she translates experiences into sketchbook pages that invite viewers into an ecosystem full of diverse flora and fauna. Join along as Robin leads viewers in sketching inkcap mushrooms with silvery blue butterflies and a miniature lupine, one of their host plants.

Sketches of birds (cedar waxwings) from different angles, shaded with colored pencils.
Cedar Waxwings by Robin Lee Carlson
A sketch of marah watsonii—the taw manroot, a round, textured plant—in brush pen and inked in green watercolors, lies on a tabletop with watercolors and sketching supplies.
Taw Manroot sketch by Robin Lee Carlson
An open sketchbook with a Demi Palette clipped to one page, and a sketch of a budding leafy twig (titled California Buckeye) on the right.
California Buckeye by Robin Lee Carlson
A table covered in supplies: camera gear, books, painting supplies, and a sketchbook open to a drawing of mushrooms and bay laurel.
Inkcap Mushrooms and Bay Laurel by Robin Lee Carlson

About Robin

Robin Lee Carlson is an author and natural science illustrator. Her artwork is grounded in observing and documenting how landscapes and ecological communities change over time. As an illustrator, she has created artwork for interpretive panels, posters, informational backdrops, species and habitat information cards, and playground equipment for various environmental organizations and agencies.

After earning a Bachelor’s in Evolutionary Biology at UC Santa Cruz and a Master’s from the University of Chicago, Robin spent many years working on stream habitat restoration projects in California. Robin’s work has appeared in The Common, the literary journal of Amherst College, and in Arnoldia, the magazine of the Harvard University Arboretum. Her first book, The Cold Canyon Fire Journals, was published in 2022 by Heyday.

Learn more about Robin and browse her illustrations on her website or on Instagram.

An artist sits cross-legged wearing big glasses and a bandana, holding leafy twig and an open sketchbook in her lap.
An artist sites on a rock, dipping a paintbrush in a Pocket Palette.

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