Scientific Illustrator & Educator

Christine Elder holds a Master’s degree in Biology and a Graduate Certificate in Science Illustration, which ensures that her work is both anatomically accurate as well as beautiful. She specializes in drawing insects, vertebrates and botanicals.

She is proficient in a variety of media including traditional watercolor, gouache, acrylic, pen & ink, scratchboard, shaded pencil and carbon dust. Digital media skills include Photoshop, Illustrator, Indesign and Dreamweaver. And with experience in graphic design and writing, she can organize your projects from start to finish.

Previous projects completed include natural history interpretive exhibits, children's books, laboratory manuals, scientific research papers, designs for posters and t-shirts, writing and illustrations for environmental newsletters, as well as a variety of graphic design projects.

Christine teaches workshops for both children and adults in biological illustration, for which she is well known for her lively presentations, intriguing biological specimens and high quality art materials.
For more information visit Christine's new website at:

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Sketching and Birding in southeastern Arizona

Friday, March 7, 2014

Spring Nature Sketching Classes

I'm offering a variety of nature sketching and bird sketching classes coming up March-summer at The Art Station in Bend, Oregon. Workshops include: Introduction to sketching birds, sketching raptors, sketching hummingbirds, and my 4 week course Drawing From Nature. Join up at

Monday, January 20, 2014

Kenai Christmas

Just returned from a bird watching trip to the Kenai Peninsula of Alaska for the winter holiday. We were scouting for a birding tour my partner is leading in June for his company,  Paradise Birding.
We saw tons of wildlife, ate incredible seafood and enjoyed beautiful weather, despite only having 5 hours of sunlight daily. We made a separate blog of our journey at

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Photographing Flowers

Spring is in full swing here in the Sierra Nevada foothills and I am enjoying photographing flowers with my new camera!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Spring Teaching Workshops

I am teaching a variety of exciting workshops for kids this spring. Recently I taught a botanical illustration workshop for 7th grade kids,as part of an annual program I teach with Youth in Arts ( read more about it here : )
In May, I will be teaching two 1-day workshops entitled 'Biological Illustration for Kids' at the Santa Cruz Natural History Museum and the Pacific Grove Natural History Museum.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

It's all fun and games until....

Here's an educational poster I created for the Department of Fish and Game's archery education program. They even let me take home a real live bow!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Stony Coral Illustration for new Book

A new book, entitled Underwater Eden, will include an illustration I created of a stony coral polyp. The book, subtitled Race to Save the Last Underwater Wilderness, describes the Phoenix Islands Protected area, the largest and newest UNESCO's World Heritage Site. Due to its isolation in the South Pacific, this remote area ( a five day boat trip from Fiji) is extraordinarily pristine and biologically diverse, with over 500 fish species and at least 120 types of coral identified thus far.
I am honored to have an illustration in this new book soon to be published by the University of Chicago Press, and dream of one day visiting this fascinating area and diving its rich waters.
(Globe above shows location of the Phoenix Islands in the Republic of Kiribati).

Monday, January 3, 2011

Collaboration with the National Park Service

I'm excited to announce a new project I'm working on with Joshua Tree National Park to help celebrate the park's 75th anniversary.
I will be creating some graphics for their children's Junior Ranger activities to complement the book I created for them last year.
Many events are planned at the park all the year (2011) to celebrate this milestone, including photo contests, treasure hunts, hikes and presentations. To learn more about these exciting activities visit:

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Recent Project -Website Design for Decorative Painter

Just finished a really fun website for a decorative painter and faux finish artist Carolyn Kubecka of Personal Touch Painting, who has been in business almost 30 years and never had a website! Her work is found at restaurants, hair salons, design centers and private residences all over Sonoma County. It was a real pleasure and a creative challenge to work with Carolyn. See examples of her fantastic faux finishes at the new website:


Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Recent Project - Website Design for Author

I just finished creating a website for this Random House book, Finding Your Way Through Cancer , written by a cancer psychologist who consults with patients at our local Sierra Nevada Comprehensive Cancer Center. I highly recommend his book for anyone going through a cancer diagnosis as well as their loved ones. Dr. David Speigel of Stanford University says of the book " Dr. Kneier has written a compassionate, wise, and accessible book about living with cancer. He lets those who are on that journey illuminate your way."
Please feel free to visit his website I designed at:

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Recent Project-Native Plant Society Poster

I created this illustration of a male Anna's Hummingbird and a currant infloresence for our California Native Plant Society's annual fall native plant sale. I also did the graphic design for the event's flyer and advertisement in our local newspaper. For more information on the event visit

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Recent Project-Wild Bird Song Designs Logo

The American Dipper is one of my favorite birds, and I'm in good company. John Muir also loved this active little stream resident, often writing extensively on its many antics in and around the creeks and waterfalls of the Yosemite region that Muir adopted as his own. Rarely has a trip to our local Sierran streams lacked for the presence, ever so fleeting, of a dipper. Their characteristic bobbing up and down, makes it look like they are keeping time to the music of the babbling brook, and if you're lucky, you'll see them dive right into the water to 'fish' for stream insects on the stream bottom.
I painted this watercolor for a friend whose business is called Wild Bird Song Designs and she creates lovely crochet patterns, available from her website:

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Recent Project: Website Design for Scientist

I've just completed another website for a scientist who studies freshwater aquatic insects-my favorite subject. I also designed this logo and his business cards and brochure.

Recent Project: Website Design for Fishing Guide

I just finished designing and building a website for a Tahoe area fly fishing guide. While we were at it, I also designed his logo,business cards,brochure and car door magnets.
I really enjoy the process of designing a website and assisting a client in realizing their vision and developing their message. Jon Baiocchi has been fishing all his life and last summer took me up to the high Sierra to try my hand at casting. Catching a live trout is a lot harder than it looks! But we did have fun looking for and identifying aquatic insects, and that's one thing we are both good at! Jon will be leading fly fishing and lake trolling trips all over northeastern California this summer. Check out his site at:

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Join Me For A Special Online Q. & A. Starting Sunday

I'm thrilled to announce that I've been asked to participate in National Environmental Education week. I will be a featured botanical artist/educator on the website Art Plantae and will be available all week to answer educators' questions on techniques for incorporating nature illustration into their lesson plans. Join the conversation April 11-17 on .

Monday, April 5, 2010

National Publishers Pick Up New Book Illustrated by Christine Elder

I'm thrilled to announce that two national organizations have picked up the entomology book I illustrated (see full original post below from Novemeber 17th.) The second edition of The Bug Book, written by The Friends of Deer Creek in Nevada City, California, and photographed by my colleague Susan McCormick, has nearly 100 aquatic insect illustrations I drew from live and preserved specimens over a 3 year period. One of the companies- BioQuip- described The Bug Book as "a remarkably well-illustrated book". To learn more about our book visit:
The Friends of Deer Creek :
McDonald & Woodward Publishing:

Caddisfly Illustration by Christine Elder (at right, from book)

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

California Native Plant Society Illustrations

I just finished this illustration of Fritillaria agrestis that was commissioned by the CNPS, depicting a rare lily called Stinkbells, named after their odiferous smell for attacting carrion loving pollinators! I created this illustration on vellum using graphite pencils and was lucky enough to work from a live specimen, which fortunately had lost its famous putrid smell by the time it came into my possession!
The California Native Plant Society does much good in our area, helping to protect endangered species and habitats and leading many interesting hikes throughout the spring and summer. Find out about their activities and how you can participate at:

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Allen's Hummingbird Illustration

I just discovered the coolest bird-cam: on an Allen's humminbirds nest. The hummer, a special subspecies called the Channel Islands Allen's, is nicknamed 'Phoebe' by her viewing fans, and she's been laying several clutches and raising several families per year for a while now!
Check out her nesting activities at this wonderful site: .

At left, I just finished this watercolor painting of a male Allen's visiting a monkeyflower in southern California. What a coincidence!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

River Explorations

Spring was in the air last week as we hiked down to our Wild & Scenic Yuba River, where the ladybugs were out in force, congregating by the millions -literally - on every branch, log and rising into the air on the canyon updrafts. We plan to backpack this 10 mile stretch of trail later this spring-and will keep you posted on our adventures!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Upcoming Kids Illustration Workshop - 2010

Join me for an all day class I'm teaching for kids at the Santa Cruz Natural History Museum on Saturday, April 10th (2010). This is the fourth year I've been asked back to teach this perennially favorite class. It is being presented in conjunction with an exhibition of biological illustrations from our Northern California chapter of the Guild of Natural Science Illustrators, for which I am the chapter membership director.
Kids in my workshop will get a chance to sketch and paint a variety of natural objects - from seashells to orchids - learning simple techniques for learning to create realistic drawings. Click on the Museum link below to learn more about this popular class.

Monday, December 14, 2009

New Book for Joshua Tree National Park

I have just finished this booklet for Joshua Tree National Park. I created nearly 50 watercolor illustrations, 25 digital illustrations, and designed the layout of the entire book. You may be familiar with the Junior Ranger program if you have kids. The children can earn a National Park badge as well as a Scout badge by completing the activities in these books, which may include sketching, writing, poems, bingo and other games, and finding various plants, animals and landmarks in the parks.
It has been an honor to work with the wonderful folks at this park, and I'm hoping the children who use this book will love it as much as we do, & become inspired about nature, history and conservation. Park staff say "the booklets are extremely popular and since their publication we've been 'swearing new Junior Rangers in by the gazillions!"

Click on the following link to visit the National Park website and download a free copy of my book:


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

New Insect Book Published

The Bug Book, A Guide to the Benthic Aquatic Macroinvertebrate Families of California.
Published by the Friends of Deer Creek.
Illustrated by Christine Elder
We have finally finished The Bug Book, in which I created over 90 illustrations for this guide to stream insects. This new book contains illustrations and descriptions of 76 aquatic insect families within nine orders, plus 12 non-insect taxa. In addition, information on taxonomy, ecology and pollution tolerance are included. It is an excellent reference for scientists as well as volunteer water quality monitors who are interested in identifying the taxa in their streams as a way to gauge the health of the aquatic ecosystem. Each insect drawing I created is produced by sketching from a preserved specimen, observed under the microscope. Then I scan the image into my computer and redraw it in Adobe Illustrator. Converting these illustrations to vector format allows me to easily modify and update the drawings, and print them out at any size required. We have spent over two years on this new, 2nd edition of The Bug Book, and it promises to be a groundbreaking publication, highly useful and user-friendly to citizens and scientists alike!
To order a copy online visit:

Friday, November 13, 2009

Recent Illustration - Coyote's Song

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Bats and Rats and Jacks, Oh My!

Just finished: Western Pipistrelle, Black-tailed Jackrabbit, Kangaroo Rat

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Haunted Halloween Sketches

Some recent watercolors exploring the creepy-crawly theme! From left: desert hairy scorpion, darkling beetle and desert tarantula - all Southern California desert natives. Boo!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Illustration Work Recognized by the E.P.A.

Christine's work on a new entomology book was recognized by The Volunteer Monitor, the national newsletter of the Environmental Protection Agency's volunteer water quality monitoring program. Published in the fall 2009 issue, the newsletter article discussed the contributions of Christine and other collaborators at The Friends of Deer Creek for their work on a new guide to California's aquatic invertebrates. Christine created nearly 100 illustrations of nine orders of insects, whose identification is valuable in discerning the health of their aquatic habitat. To see the EPA's newsletters, visit


Thursday, October 1, 2009

Current Illustration Project

This illustration of a Costa's hummingbird and Ocotillo, its nectar source, is part of a large project I'm working on for the National Park Service. I just love the desert southwest and plan to make a visit this spring.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Painting in the Field

I just love the turning of the seasons! We had our first sprinkles of rain yesterday which freshened the air and gave it that lovely crisp autumn scent. It inspired me to venture down to the creek and spend the afternoon sketching leaves in watercolor.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Conversations with a Jackrabbit

Gifts for the Home, Office & Body

Gifts for the Home, Office & Body
Featuring original illustrations by Christine Elder. Click image above to visit my online art gallery store.

Coral Reef Fishes

Coral Reef Fishes
I created this laminated field guide to assist SCUBA divers such as myself who enjoy identifying the many fishes of the ocean realm.

Recent Illustration Project

Recent Illustration Project
An 11" x 16" orignial watercolor of foothill sierra newts created as a private commission.

Water Strider

Water Strider
Click on image to learn about this creature in the July issue of 'Bay Nature' Magazine

Taking a Break from Class

Taking a  Break from Class

Testimonials for Christine's Art Classes

  • "Christine is the rare professional artist who can bring art and natural science alive for kids"
  • "Christine is stellar in the classroom"
  • "She has the background & ability to design lessons and activities that are age-appropriate"
  • "Her style engages & motivates students"
  • "Her class was a week rich with lessons and activities that complemented the science curriculum"
  • "Christine brings a passion and enthusiasm that is infectious"
  • "I didn't know I could paint like this"

Adult Salmonfly

Adult Salmonfly
Photo by Dan Pickard. To see more of his outstanding photos, visit the Aquatic Bioassesment Lab's Digital Reference Collection (click on photo to visit)

Incredible Salmonfly Hatch

Last week, we were hiking in the forest along an irrigation ditch when we began to notice numerous shucks of the salmonfly, Pteronarcys californica. They were not only attached to the stream side aquatic vegetation, but had also made their way across the trail, and six feet up the trunks of nearby firs and pines. Salmonflies are one of my favorite aquatic invertebrates, being among the largest and flashiest of stoneflies. I collected a handful of shucks to show my students, and also observed a large adult, about 3 inches long, while it rested calmly on my arm! One never knows what special events you'll see when you're being observant out in the field!

My first major commission

My first major commission
These are photos of a natural history exhibit I created in 1996 for Butano State Park on the central coast. With my extensive background in biology, education and writing, I was able to take the project from start to finish. I designed the overall concepts, wrote and silkscreened the text, created the paintings in acrylic as well as designing the wooden display structures.