Patricia Wynne: A Life in Art

Backyard Nature

Freelance artist and illustrator Patricia Wynne has some advice for kids who want to be artists when they grow up: Keep practicing and don’t let anyone discourage you: “Draw your favorite animal. Draw it again. Just keep drawing.”

American Museum of Natural History

Patricia talks to kids all the time when she’s drawing in the American Museum of Natural History, near her home in New York City. The kids are curious about what she’s doing as well as about the bones and fossils on display, and tell her that they’re going to be artists too.

These budding artists can get some help with the many books Patricia has created over the years for Dover. In fact, her first book was commissioned by Dover founder Hayward Cirker: a dinosaur coloring book for children. Since then, she’s created not only many dino-related activity books, but also coloring books geared towards adults for the Creative Haven line. Her third is coming out this fall and is based on the drawings of John James Audubon. Be on the look-out for another book soon from Patricia about a museum collection.

Patricia also designs the Dover activity books herself; all those dot-to-dot, mazes, hidden pictures, spot-the-difference and various other puzzles that make for hours of educational fun. And also several different books of stickers!

Patricia has been a professional artist and freelancer for 45 years and she specializes in scientific illustration. “It’s the best job,” says Patricia, and the collaboration with scientists guarantees that she will never stop learning. She illustrates scientific papers, working with the authors while the paper is under review, just prior to publication. Patricia is currently working on a combination anthropology and zoology paper about how people in a South American country understand native animals, including certain weasel/otter types, armadillos — and a strange dog unfamiliar to most American scientists.

Patricia says, “I also worked with scientists who went down to the abyssal thermal vents in in the ocean. It was hard for them to take pictures of the new life they found there, but they described to me what they saw and I was able to reconstruct the landscape.

She has a lot of faith in kids and their curiosity and desire to create. “Kids don’t need drawing lessons,” she says, “and they can be overeducated. Don’t do it! They can draw!”