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Meet Teaching Artist Julia Beery

Julia Beery is a science illustrator with a passion for drawing all the animal, plant, and fungi who live in the Bay Area. Her most peaceful moments are spent capturing the curve of a petal in ink. When Julia is not creating science illustrations she likes to sew clothing and embroider what she already owns to make it feel new again. @juliabeery_art

Julia Beery spoke with Amy Spencer, Richmond Art Center’s Exhibitions Director, on October 21, 2021


Thanks for speaking with me today, Julia. As a new teaching artist at Richmond Art Center can you please introduce yourself to our community. 

Hi, I’m Julia Beery. I was born in Berkeley and have spent most of my life in the Bay Area. I left for a while to attend school but am now back and living in Point Richmond. Where I grew up in Berkeley there are lots of wild and overgrown backyards. And I loved wandering around seeing all the birds and insects and animals. It often felt like I was in a forest, even though it’s a city.

How did you get started as an artist?

I’ve always been drawing. At some point during high school I started feeling shy about calling myself an artist. So I tried to find another way I could make a career from art, and went ahead and completed a degree in Art Conservation. Art Conservation is a blend of chemistry and art history with the goal to preserve artworks for future generations. I thought it was interesting but I still wanted to make my own work. Then I heard about the Science Illustration program at California State University Monterey Bay. I applied and got in. It was an incredible experience; a really great course and I felt part of a wonderful community there.

I’m fairly new to this career but I like how science illustration is collaborative. I like talking to scientists and developing work as part of a conversation. There is so much research and talking involved before you even start drawing.

Can you tell us about the Urban Nature Journaling class you are teaching at Richmond Art Center this semester? 

This class is about finding ways to observe the natural world. My plan for the start is to bring everyone outside at Miller-Knox beach in Point Richmond to talk about the materials for field sketching. It’s a small kit – pencils, paper, watercolors. You really don’t need a lot of equipment to start.

I will then give some demonstrations and teach some simple drawing techniques designed to get students started looking, sketching and sharing. But it’s not just about drawing. We’ll also be doing things like writing, recording sounds, and creating swatches of color. 

The goal is not to create a finished piece, but rather to get lost in the pleasure of observing and making art. 

Is much science involved?

Nothing intimidating. There will be a quick intro to botanical terminology. At this time of year there aren’t so many flowers around, so we’ll focus on leaves a lot. We’ll look at their different shapes and arrangements, and then practice using the different terms to describe what we see. Hopefully we might find some mushrooms too, that would be cool!

What is one thing you think students will walk away with after taking your class?

I’m hoping that after taking this class students will feel they can look at their surroundings in their neighborhoods and observe them in a new way. I hope they get into the habit of taking their journal with them and recording what they see over time.

Nature journaling is, like any journaling, a record of a time and a place. One of the most important things to do is to record where you are and what time of year. Then you can really start to build your knowledge of the natural world.

Students who take this class will start to see that you don’t need to be a scientist to understand the natural world, anybody’s observations are valid.  

Nudibranchs by Julia Beery

What art projects are you working on at the moment?

I’ve been doing a digital illustration series of nudibranchs, which are a kind of sea slug. I’ve been doing a lot of digital drawings since the pandemic. This work is in a  group show at the Deep Ocean Explore Store in Alameda that will be opening this Saturday at noon. It should be up for a while if people are interested in checking it out. If you don’t know about nudibranchs, they are so much fun!

I’ve been doing a digital illustration series of nudibranchs, which are a kind of sea slug. I’ve been doing a lot of digital drawings since the pandemic. This work is in a  group show at the Deep Ocean Explore Store in Alameda that will be opening this Saturday at noon. It should be up for a while if people are interested in checking it out. If you don’t know about nudibranchs, they are so much fun!


Urban Nature Journaling with Julia Beery starts on Thursday, November 4. The class meets weekly for four weeks from 12pm to 2pm. CLICK HERE to learn more and register online.

Nature Journaling by Julia Beery

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