My name is Nate Beccue and I am honored to be included in this group - thank you for the invitation Kate! I grew up in East Central Illinois along the
–the place where I found my love of nature. My mother, mother-in-law and now brother are all art teachers so I have quite a bit of art influence in my life but no formal art education. I have a bachelor’s degree in Natural Resources and a master’s degree in Forest Ecology from the Sangamon River University of Illinois and I work as a Natural Areas Manager at the Holden Arboretum in Northeastern Ohio.
Birders like to talk about their “spark bird” the one that ignited a passion for birding, I like to say that I had a “spark subject” that started a passion for nature illustration. In grad school I was documenting some tree falls in the woods and saw an Ohio buckeye (Aesculus glabra) that was just breaking bud, I don’t know if it was the colors or the dynamics of the opening leaves but I had to draw it. I bought some Crayola colored pencils and got started.
My favorite subject to draw in detail are winter twigs of woody plants – I am amazed by the variety of colors in a twig, the details of a bud, the imperfections and their causes and then the dynamics of a twig coming to life each spring. In addition to twigs you will find that I will draw anything I find in the woods especially botanical and I am starting to gain more interest and confidence in drawing birds. A few years ago I started carrying a field notebook for fast sketches and notes of things that I see on a daily basis working in the woods. I recently switched from Crayola colored pencils to Faber-Castell Polychromos pencils and almost always draw on Bristol board or in my notebook. I own watercolor, oil and acrylic paint and will also play with that stuff every once in a while. If you would like to take a look through my work please visit at www.buroakbotanicals.blogspot.com.
Enough of an introduction – here is a page from my notebook from earlier in the week - a little look at some of the botanical activity where I stopped for lunch on Tuesday. Lunch was adjacent to a slip above the East Branch of the
and the first thing to catch my eye were the undersides of hundreds of round-leaved ragwort (Packera obovata), a brilliant violet anytime of year but especially striking in February. Next I noticed some young sedges, their exposed roots barely clinging to the eroding slope. Carex (sedges) is a difficult genus to master, but in this part of the world there are only a few sedges with leaves this wide and the pale bases of the leaves give this one away as C. platyphylla. Much more common here, and abundant to my right on the wooded hillside, is C. plantaginea it is given away by the red/maroon bases of leaves. And making their 2012 debut all over the hillside is wild leek aka ramps (Allium tricoccum) a solid two weeks ahead of schedule based on my notes. As always a great day to be in the woods! Chagrin River