Archive for the ‘Teaching & Learning’ Category

Plant Prints & Earth Paintings
Tina Scopa
An Tobar
Isle of Mull, Scotland
March 3-30, 2018

This past summer we learned about edaphic plant art when we spoke with Scottish artist Tina Scopa. Working spontaneously with plants and soil, Tina gets plants to “draw” themselves in prints, photography, and ceramic work. Her current exhibition titled, Plant Prints & Earth Paintings, represents four years of exploring plants and soil. Images from this show are below.

During our conversation with Tina, we also learned she was working on her fine art degree at the Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design at the University of Dundee. I am happy to share that Tina has almost completed her studies and is working on her degree show.

While we wait for her degree show, we can learn more about Tina’s practice and about what motivates her to create edaphic plant art by reading her paper about environmental art (also called land art or ecological art).

In a living understanding of nature, Tina asks the question:

    Can a contemporary art practice reconnect society to the “rhythms, sights, sounds, and scents of the natural world”?

To answer this question, Tina researched experiential knowledge and experiential understanding through art. If you have an interest in learning how art might be used in environmental education, you will enjoy Tina’s paper.

The exhibition Plant Prints & Earth Paintings is now on view at An Tobar on the Isle of Mull. Click on the first image to begin a tour of the exhibition.

All photos are courtesy of Tina Scopa.


Page by page, illustrated journals recognize the interpretive encounters so foundational to worldmaking and, in doing so, cultivate the deep attention to, and experience of, the world that is our first step toward care.

— Lyn K. Baldwin

In Drawing Care: The Illustrated Journal’s “Path to Place”,
Lyn K. Baldwin explains how illustrated journals can reinvigorate peoples’ experience with “place”.

Baldwin is a plant ecologist at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops, British Columbia, Canada. She researches how to use drawing as a learning tool to learn about nature and place. Baldwin’s research into this subject began when she realized the demand for care required tools she never learned while training to be an ecologist.

Baldwin believes humans have thought their way out of nature and that “there is no guarantee that thinking alone will lead us back” (Baldwin, 2018). She feels the most effective way people can change their relationship with place is by keeping a journal. Specifically, an illustrated resonant journal.

What is a resonant journal?

In her article, Baldwin discusses four types of journals people use to record the world around them. In her discussion, she refers to the “scale of journals” as defined by artist and author, Hannah Hinchman. Baldwin explains that at one end of Hinchman’s scale, we find informational journals (e.g., a biologist’s field notebook). Next along the scale are investigative journals, journals with observations accompanied by fewer details normally found in informational journals. Investigative journals are followed by resonant journals which are journals composed of a person’s outward observations intermingled with their inner thoughts. The last journal type on Hinchman’s scale are reflective journals (e.g., personal diaries).

Baldwin argues that illustrated resonant journals are the key tool capable of combating the “extinction of experience” (Baldwin, 2018), which refers the ever-increasing divide between people and nature. She says illustrated resonant journals are the best tool to use because they include a drawing component. She explains that it is the act of drawing that pushed informational journals towards becoming resonant journals and that drawing helped “resonant journals gain their footings as a creative practice capable of remaking the world” (Baldwin, 2018). Baldwin explains that drawing enhances a person’s experience with place because drawing:

  1. Makes seeing more important than looking.
  2. Allows more of the world to make an impression on one’s consciousness.
  3. Literally draws a person into a place and experience.

Baldwin believes illustrated resonant journals could “repopulate nature” (Baldwin, 2018) and create stronger connections to place than scientific observations and species lists could ever do on their own.

Baldwin concludes her article by describing five journaling exercises teachers can teach to their students. These exercises are suitable for both indoor and outdoor use. Baldwin emphasizes that with these exercises, the process is more important than the product. She shares these specific exercises because, during her lengthy career as a journaling instructor, she has seen these writing and drawing exercises enhance student experience of place in only a few hours. These exercises are a wonderful addition to your art and science file folder and are just in time for Earth Day 2018. Obtain a copy of Baldwin’s article to receive instructions for:

  • Illuminated contour drawings
  • Color swatches and sound tapestries
  • Landscape drawing
  • Odd Couples (a writing exercise that adds energy to sentences)
  • Titles (an exercise in lettering and writing titles)

Selected examples of these activities follows:

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Baldwin’s article Drawing Care is available on the website of the Journal of Teaching in Travel & Tourism. (Black & white illustrations, $42.50 for 24-hour access).

A color copy of Baldwin’s unpublished manuscript is available on the Thompson Rivers University’s repository for FREE. The link to this article is included here compliments of Lyn Baldwin.

Also courtesy of Lyn Baldwin is a link to free downloads of her published article. This publisher-supplied link allows for only 50 downloads. After fifty copies are downloaded, the article will cost $42.50 for 24-hour access or $154.00 for 30-day access.

I would like to thank Lyn for her generosity and for sharing these links with ArtPlantae readers.

Literature Cited

Baldwin, L. K. (2018). Drawing care: the illustrated journal’s “path to place”. Journal of Teaching in Travel & Tourism, 18(1): 75-93

More from Lyn Baldwin

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The New York Academy of Medicine Library kicks off the third annual “Color Our Collections” festival. One hundred forty-nine institutions are participating in this year’s festival occurring online now through Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Libraries, archives and cultural institutions around the world have created coloring pages based on images from their collections.

To view the list of participating organizations and to download coloring pages, go to the Color Our Collections website.

If you post your coloring pages online, be sure to use the hashtag #ColorOurCollections.

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Go Fish…..for Plant Families

Illustrator Christine Berrie has created a clever way to learn about plant families.

Flower Families: A Go Fish Game is a card game featuring 52 garden flowers that players must group into their respective plants families.

This game introduces players to the following taxonomic groups:

    Amaryllidaceae (Amaryllis Family)
    Ranunculaceae (Buttercup Family)
    Asteraceae (Daisy Family)
    Onagraceae (Evening Primrose Family)
    Iridaceae (Iris Family)
    Liliaceae (Lily Family)
    Malvaceae (Mallow Family)
    Lamiaceae (Mint Family)
    Brassicaceae (Mustard Family)
    Fabaceae (Pea Family)
    Caryophyllaceae (Pink Family)
    Plantaginaceae (Plantain Family)
    Rosaceae (Rose Family)

Included with the game is the booklet, Flower Families: A Guide to the Flower Families by Timothy Utteridge.

Published in the UK by Laurence King Publishing, this game is distributed in the US by Chronicle Books.

View Contents & Directions

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We often assume that everyone can distinguish between a tree, bush, and herbaceous flowering plant but this is not always the case, especially when it comes to young learners.

Do you know how your youngest students think about plants?

If you’re not sure, consider using the “Is it a plant?” formative assessment probe presented in Uncovering Young Children’s Concept of a Plant, an article written by science education consultant and author, Page Keeley.

In her article, Keeley discusses how this probe was created “to elicit primary students’ initial ideas about plants and the characteristics they use to decide if something is a plant.”

The “Is it a plant?” assessment involves a single sheet of paper featuring simple illustrations of nine plant types — cactus, tree, grass, weed, bush, dandelion, water lily, vine, and fern. Students are asked to view the sheet and to select which of the illustrations represent a plant. They are then asked to share the reasons why they made the choices that they did. This probe leads to conversations between teachers and students about what a plant is and isn’t and provides educators with an opportunity to customize learning experiences that will expand their students’ understanding of plants.

View this assessment and find out how you can administer it yourself by purchasing Keeley’s article online from the journal Science and Children (99¢).

Literature Cited

Keeley, Page. (2017). Uncovering young children’s concept of a plant. Science and Children. 55(2): 20-22.


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Does your busy life cause you to neglect your houseplants?
There are 14 plants in this book just for you!

House Jungle: A Guide to Becoming a Successful Indoor Gardener!
is a cheerful new book containing the type of information a person needs to green up their living space. It is perfect both in content and in size for homeowners, apartment residents, dorm dwellers, and RV enthusiasts whose home is on four wheels.

Written and playfully illustrated by designer Annie Dornan-Smith, House Jungle is a helpful guide for indoor gardeners. Houseplant enthusiasts will learn:

  • The benefits of houseplants
  • How to start an indoor garden
  • How to decorate with houseplants
  • How to care for houseplants
  • Where to buy houseplants
  • How to make more houseplants

Indoor gardeners will also learn about fourteen plants that can tolerate low light and a little bit of neglect. This is a good starter list for anyone who doubts their ability to maintain a thriving indoor garden.

While Dornan-Smith surely had homeowners in mind when writing House Jungle, I think this book is also a good resource for teachers interested in bringing houseplants into the classroom. Written and illustrated like a sketchbook, House Jungle features easy-to-follow text and instruction that promises to keep students engaged with the care of their classroom jungle. Plus its format can spark ideas and conversation about how students can track the growth of their indoor garden and keep a nature/science journal of their own.

Published just last week, House Jungle is available directly from the author (for UK readers) and from your local independent bookstore (for US readers).


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Future teachers attending the Campus School at Smith College in Massachusetts co-create an event demonstrating that pop-up exhibitions can be more engaging than formal gallery exhibitions. Madelaine Zadik, manager of education and outreach at The Botanic Garden at Smith College, writes about the Garden’s work with education students in Pop-Up Exhibits.

Zadik explains how a professor of early childhood education paired her students with kindergarten students so they could learn how to guide young children in inquiry-based activities in the botanic garden. The semester-long collaboration between the future teachers and the Garden resulted in a pop-up exhibition and an online gallery featuring artwork inspired by the Garden’s annual bulb show.

Learn more by reading the article online and by viewing the exhibition on the Garden’s website.

Literature Cited

Zadik, Madelaine. (2015). Pop-up Exhibits. Public Gardens. 30(1), 28-29. Retrieved from https://publicgardens.org/files/images/2015Vol301/mobile/index.html#p=30


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