Art by Charley Harper

Art and science – 2 seemingly opposite worlds, yet I’ve often felt like I’d like to live in both. I love art…drawing, painting, photography…both producing it myself and appreciating the work of others. I love science…thinking up experiments and appreciating the great ideas others come up with. Career-wise, I obviously chose the science route (thought the job prospects would be better…BAHAHA), but always came back to art as a hobby and still feel a longing to incorporate it in my everyday life…including my work life. The interest I’m developing in science writing has brought me some peace and lit up my artistic-creative side again (which is in some desperate need of nurturing now that the PhD is said and done). While I never thought the form my artistic expression would take would be in words rather than a paint brush or pencil, it feels completely right and natural. Who knows…maybe one day when I am an accomplished science writer I’ll start a side career as a science illustrator. 🙂

On that note, when searching for some pretty pictures to use as a header for my blog I came across these little treasures (just a small sample) by Charley Harper (1922-2007). Charley was an American wildlife artist whose illustrations can be found in “The Golden Book of Biology”, “The Animal Kingdom”, “Birds and Words”, and “Beguiled by the Wild: The Art of Charley Harper”. He called his style minimal realism stating “I don’t try to put everything in, I try to leave everything out…I never count the feathers in the wings, I just count the wings.”. Isn’t that refreshing? Science can be SO detail oriented – its nice to take a step back and just appreciate the big picture. While mostly wildlife, which is of course its own vast field of science, he does from time to time incorporate other (geekier ;)) forms of science such as some physiology (note the squirrel print below), a hint of genetics (see the chromosomes lining up in second print posted below) and even a shout-out to Darwin (see Finches below). I love it all.

Charley’s work reminds me of what illustrations in children’s books used to look like, but in today’s modern minimalist style, he is still very relevant. I am so happy to have found Charley’s art and excited to realize that the merging of art and science is a real possibility – it gives me hope!

Check out more wonderful pieces at One of these prints might find a happy home on my wall!


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