Thursday, March 25, 2010

Inspired by James Gurney…again!

Today in his blog James Gurney asked, “What’s the oldest studio item that you keep on using? Do you use something that you inherited from a mentor or ancestor?” It made me think about my mentor and favorite teacher, Donald Sayner. He was the head of the Scientific Illustration Department at the University of Arizona for more than 30 years. I knew him at the end of his teaching career, studying with him from 1987 – 1990. He was such an inspiration to me that besides dedicating my first children’s book to him, he was very nearly the local stand-in for my Dad at my wedding. A truly inspirational teacher and human being, I will never forget him.

When his Scientific Illustration department closed for good 20 years ago, he gave me several things that I still cherish and use. Among them are a reducing glass (the opposite of a magnifying glass – a wonderful tool for assessing artwork that will later be reduced for print) and a sign penned at some point by Don himself proclaiming, “Photography, c. 1906. Scientific Illustration, Department of General Biology.” It always hung in his classroom, now it hangs in my studio.

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