I finished my internship at the Smithsonian on Friday and took the overnight bus back to Toronto on Saturday. I’m going to miss DC and really wish I’d had more time to see the city. The museum was such a great place to work and explore. It’s a toss-up what my favourite exhibit would be--I think it's probably a tie between the underwater exhibit and the butterfly pavilion. I also managed to see two iMax films while I was there: "Mysteries of the Unseen World" and Jean-Michel Cousteau’s "Secret Ocean."

As far as DC itself, I managed to go for some longer walks and enjoyed walking to the Lincoln Memorial past the National Monument. I walked along the Potomac River, all through the historic Georgetown, and also along the Anacostia River to the Eastern Market.

I loved working with Taina Litwak and Alex Konstantinov. Alex, who is a research scientist at the Smithsonian, is also an accomplished artist and was a great help to my illustrations for accuracy. Taina taught me quite a few tips and tricks and helped me a great deal with speeding up my workflow.

Internships are always a bit of a compromise with balancing the cost of moving to a new place and the time you give up from working on your own projects. But I really feel like this was completely worth every minute I spent there. And I’m really happy with the four beetles I managed to finish, one of which might end up in its own separate publication! I really value all the connections I was able to make through this internship, both by meeting other illustration interns and through the DC GNSI chapter meeting.

Many of the other illustration interns came from the Science Illustration program at California State University. It was great to see the work coming out of their program and marvel at the traditional techniques that they get to master. I ended up working quite closely with another intern Lauren Bassing, whose work is absolutely stunning (go and look!). Working beside Lauren made me realize just how much I miss a studio environment, working next to other people and feeding off of each others' creativity. Perhaps I’ll have to try to find a collaborative studio space now that I’m home in Toronto. In the interim, its back to trying to convince my cat that my drawing tablet isn’t a new bed to sleep on. 

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