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  • Writer's pictureClaire Baldwin

Teaching Students How to Illustrate Biodiversity Color Wheels

As an illustrator, I seek to inspire wonder and reverence for the natural world, especially in children. So I jumped at the opportunity to teach my method for creating biodiversity color wheels to students at the Friends School of Portland.

The students of the Friends School of Portland arrived to my art workshop already brimming with enthusiasm for art and love for the natural world. I kicked off my first morning of instruction talking about biodiversity, why it matters, and how beautiful it can be.

I shared my favorite scientific illustrations, ranging from hyperrealistic to wonderfully abstracted, and passed around beautifully illustrated books from my personal collection. My goal: to show there's no one 'right' way to approach illustration.

The students dove into drawing rainbow assortments of the organisms of their choosing: mushrooms, frogs sitting on mushrooms, beetles, jellyfish, and chickens - yes, chickens.

Over the next two sessions, as their pieces progressed, I was blown away by their level of detail and thoughtfulness. The children in my class were so committed to their pieces, they begged to come in during recess to get more painting time in.

The Friends School of Portland had done a wonderful job of selecting a wide range of instructors and conducting rank-choice voting, to ensure students were happy with their class. I'm grateful to have been part of such a well structured program.

It was a joy to spend quality time with children who shared my enthusiasm for painting. On the second day, I brought in my personal palette. At a foot wide and nearly two feet long, it was almost half the height of one of the pint-sized third graders. I used it to demonstrate the enormous possibilities of mixing your own colors. That little third grader was super into it, and used it to mix new hues for her painting.

Teaching these talented young artists was an unforgettable experience, and I'd love to continue sharing my love of illustration with others. If you're interested in hosting me for a workshop, let's chat!

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