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Fish, Fungus and Flea Beetles

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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The Southern Ontario Nature & Science Illustrators’ (SONSI) exhibit is on right now in Toronto.

I used to be webmaster-blogger for this amazing group – and I would be hard-pressed to find a more professional, fun, and above all talented group of illustrators anywhere. These are the people you want illustrating your ebooks on biodiversity and evolution.

Head to this link to see the whole exhibit online, or if you live in the Greater Toronto Area, try and see it in person before Feb 24th.  To give you a taste, let’s have a look at the publicly voted-for best in show:


Bracket Fungus (Ganoderma) © by Kathryn Chorney won first place. Chorney is also a professor at Sheridan College, renowned for their illustration and animation programs.


European Beech - (Fagus sylvaticus) © by Kathryn Chorney won 2nd prize. I've seen Chorney sketch before, and she makes it look effortless.

Black Crappie (Pomoxis nigromaculatus) © by Emily Damstra won third place in the vote. I often think computer-drawing and painting gets an unfair rap as being too easy: but even so you can cut and paste and duplicate patterns easily when illustrating digitally. Which makes this drawing by SONSI-president Damstra all the more stunning: it's coloured pencil.

Orthrozanclus © by Marianne Collins, honourable mention. If you're from Toronto, you've no doubt seen some of Collins' work at the Royal Ontario Museum: many of the fish and other models in the biodiversity gallery have Collins' artistry behind them, as well as the iconic paintings of the Burgess Shale critters that inspired these toys.

Flea Beetle © by Maayan Harel, honourable mention. Harel notes this illustration started out as part of a series being done in black & white but that this insect was so spectacular it needed to be colourized.

White Oak Acorn Sprout © Nellie Sue Potter. In addition to being a member of SONSI, Potter also teaches illustration and is a former president of the Botanical Artists Society of Canada.

Many of the original pieces in the SONSI show are also for sale. The group and show are much larger than this collection – check it out if you’re in Toronto, or view the spectacular nature on display online.

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Southern Ontario Nature and Science Illustrators (SONSI) – site & blog

Glendon Mellow About the Author: Glendon Mellow is a fine artist, illustrator and tattoo designer working in oil and digital media based in Toronto, Canada. He tweets @FlyingTrilobite and is on Instagram. You can see Glendon's work-in-progress at The Flying Trilobite blog and portfolio at Follow on Twitter @symbiartic.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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