Irene Brady: Up Close and Personal
At right is a picture of me, taken in January of 1998. I still look PRETTY much like this, only a bit grayer….ummmm ~ ought to get a newer one, then, huh?
Of course, I see myself differently.
Here’s the REAL me.
So far, I’ve had quite an interesting life, always engaging, always changing ~ I never know where it will lead me next. Here’s how it’s played out so far…
I started writing and illustrating when I was 19, and my first book, America’s Horses & Ponies was published in 1969 by Houghton Mifflin. With that encouragement, I wrote and illustrated a lot more books, won some awards, illustrated for Audubon, Ranger Rick Nature Magazine, and quite a few other magazines.
In addition to writing and illustrating my own books, I also did some freelance nature illustration jobs, painting interpretive panelsfor the Forest Service and creating brochures and interpretive displays for nature centers and museums both locally and throughout the U.S., while also pursuing other artistic endeavors such as clipart, my line of Campsite Critter Guides, and whatever else appealed to me.
Throughout the ’70s and ’80s I gave talks in elementary schools from southern California to Alaska about how I wrote and illustrated nature books for kids. I loved this, but it was h.a.r.d work, and I only lasted a few years.
Then, in the late ’80s I worked for five years as Scientific Illustrator at the National Fish & Wildlife Forensics Lab in Ashland, Oregon, designing the national logo, creating graphics, illustrating articles for the scientists, and making courtroom displays for the Exxon Valdez oil spill trial and others. It was great to be able to help wildlife hands-on.
I then branched out a bit to work in a native plant nursery, (and still do, part time ~ weeding, pruning, working on the Plant Oregon webpage,) loving the exercise and the fact that I can help people make this world a little greener.
The late 1990s were busy ~ for several years at Southern Oregon University I taught a college course in Scientific Illustration (I learned botanical illustration in the 60s, illustrating psychedelic drug-producing plants for Dr. R.E. Schultes at the Harvard Botanical Museum). I ended up writing a textbook for the SOU class which later morphed into the popular Illustrating Nature ~ Right-brain Art in a Left-brain World, (click on the images to see more) a whole new direction for me, with marketing in areas I’d never tackled before. The results have been astonishing….I’ve gotten acquainted with homeschoolers all over the world, which really thrills me.
While I was teaching at SOU, I published The Redrock Canyon Explorer. Writing and illustrating it took me about three years. It’s carried in state and national parks and monuments, bookstores and trading posts of the Southwest ~ Arches, Zion, Montezuma Castle, and Glen Canyon Visitor Center, to name a few. The Southern Swamp Explorer…The second volume of the series is which you can find in parks and nature centers all over the Southeast and East.
In the years 2005-2009, I gave all sorts of workshops on nature sketching, sketch/journaling, landscape sketching, and watercolor-pencil techniques. The workshops were designed for nature-oriented people, mostly, and I really enjoyed interacting with the vital, adventuresome participants of all ages which they attracted.
I created illustrated workbooks for the workshops (which the participants filled with everything we did in class) crammed with advice and techniques to refer to later on at home. I loved showing people how to realize their dreams of being able to draw what they see ~ and in the journaling classes to help them write prose and poetry expressively to enhance their journaling. It was definitely WIN/WIN!
With the help of several local nature centers, I created an interactive nature workshop, complete with student workbooks and teachers guides to enable any adult to teach a vital class on Observing Nature. It is proving popular with nature centers, magnet schools, and schools and organizations with summer programs.
In 2009, when the bottom dropped out of the workshop field with the recession, I stopped teaching the workshops, I enhanced all of my workshop workbooks to enable them to stand alone, and made them available as downloads here on my website. They are popular with creative people who are striving to improve their drawing and journaling skills.
I’ve now branched out in new directions and, for the first time in my life, I’m trying to slow down a little to smell the roses and relax. In 2009 I joined forces with a fellow artist for a gigantic Art Show and Sale, where I found homes for many of my original drawings and the books they illustrated.
These days I am concentrating on exploring and sketch/journaling this beautiful world ~ the beaches, the mountains, the jungle and beach in Costa Rica and the Amazon River in Peru, the length of New Zealand and the breadth of Big Island in Hawaii. And more locally, the woods all around my house. How about a daily journal of my forest, with sketches of awakening buds, junco nests, cicadas hatching, mushrooms sprouting, and all the other amazing things that happen every day in a wild woods……?
I plan to make each journal available on the website, hopefully with a facing-page tutorial of how and why I created each page. People seem to really like that approach. Although I no longer teach in person, I still want to share my experiences, and the tutorials fulfill this desire perfectly. What a wonderful life I have been blessed with, and continue to enjoy every day! Thanks for coming to visit.
I am very dedicated to my reading public, and all book orders are filled quickly and efficiently.
Products by Irene Brady
The following products include artwork and/or writing by Irene Brady. Most products are a collaboration of the wonderful artists and writers who have contributed to Acorn Designs over the years.
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