It’s Sunday, the last day of Polar Week, after a late night of working on Pixel Movers & Makers, which my co-conspirator Kevin Pluck and I launched a week ago. In truth, while Kev toiled away with his numbers and his codes, I spent most of the evening dripping paint on paper. I really couldn’t have been happier. And I filmed it.
I’m about to show you my watercolor sketching process from start to finish. I’ve gotten a little bit brave, and I’m talking my way through the video, explaining what I’m doing at each stage. (This is about my fifth attempt to do so, and most times I have pushed the wrong button on my phone and waxed poetic, only to find I’ve recorded a lovely shot of the ceiling or nothing at all. Pity about the Mr. Squiggle anecdote, but you’ve missed out. Or have you?)
My point was (apart from Mr. Squiggle being one of my early heroes) that I often turn my paper while I’m painting. Gravity is a key player in each of these creations, as are the paper itself (Arches hot press) and the paint (Windsor & Newton, the professional grade stuff). Skimping on the paint and paper quality is entirely self-defeating when it comes to watercolor.
What I most want you to know, though, is that polar ice is beautiful.
It’s extraordinarily beautiful and, even more so, it’s incredibly important to our planet. I cannot even begin to do it justice.
So, what is the Polar Ice Sketch Project anyway? It’s an ongoing project in which I paint and tweet as I finish each one, often with information about our vital polar ice. I hope you’ll enjoy this window into my process and my playtime.
Kev and I have been secretly toiling on this venture every night for months now, and we were thrilled to present a poster and a short sample animation at the APECS Workshop on Antarctic Hydrology & Ice Shelf Stability at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in February. The response and support we’re received so far from the polar community is very heartening.
We’re currently creating an animation about Antarctica’s Pine Island Glacier, a melting, accelerating glacier up to 3 km (~1.8 miles) tall and about 400 km (250 miles) long.
In personal news, I was pleased to co-present a workshop on effective online science communication at Boston University with Dr. Laura Schifman. We talked about scientists taking control of their science communication by writing effective blog posts for the public and how to harness the power of social media. Thanks to Claudia Mazur for inviting us. We’re now looking for opportunities to take our show on the road!
So, it’s been a rather busy year thus far. There’s still a lot happening in ice news, so I’m providing a list of links below that you may want to check out.
Arctic sea ice appears to have reached its annual maximum extent on March 17. This is the second lowest Arctic maximum in the 39-year satellite record. The four lowest maximum extents in the satellite record have all occurred in the past four years.
...in the Southern Hemisphere, sea ice reached its minimum extent for the year on February 20 and 21, at 2.18 million square kilometers (842,000 square miles). This year’s minimum extent was the second lowest in the satellite record, 70,000 square kilometers (27,00 square miles) above the record low set on March 3, 2017.