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Lynn Usack

Lynn UsackLike many artists, I began creating a variety of art at a young age and am predominantly self-taught, with one notable exception. While my secondary education is in the sciences and communication, I was fortunate to take classes and workshops from the renowned late watercolorist, Bente Starcke King, a staff illustrator for 15 years at Cornell University's Baily Hortorium. Before Bente, I was largely a graphite artist; she introduced me to color in a way that made it accessible, and any ability I have in the "color realm" is due to her generous instruction.

For the majority of my artistic career, my art has been an exploration of the natural world. I began art due to my love of horses and the desire to capture them accurately in all their natural beauty, and I moved on from there to just about any other subject matter that interests me.

I don't really have a favorite subject matter, and in fact I haven't painted or drawn horses in a long time, but you never know, someday! I'm very intrigued by the structures and colors you see in the natural world, like little mysteries waiting to be known, and I think my interest in science is an extension of that fascination.

From my studies with Bente King, I've mostly worked in watercolors. I love the layering and translucency of watercolor and the myriad effects you can create with this medium. I have also dabbled in, and still have interest in persuing other media such as silver point, printmaking techniques, scratchboard, and more recently, egg tempura. I still love graphite and will continue to develop the technique, especially after having a fabulous opportunity to take a workshop from Rhonda Nass, a highly skilled and genuinly wonderful person.

Though I am not nearly as prolific an artist like others contributing to Acorn Designs, I have used a variety of skills as an arts advocate to promote the arts in our region, staying connected to people who inspire and enrich the culture of Upstate NY. I began that aspect of my life through Acorn Designs, and that experience gave me confidence to help other causes. In addition to art I created for Acorn Designs note cards and stationery, I offered my skills in desktop publishing design and layout of the catalogue, packaging, advertisements and mailers for several years. I'm proud I was able to contribute to their mission. I believe strongly in what they are trying to do and I thank Steve and Anne for letting me participate and for their encouragement!

I also combined my background in science with a love for art and the natural world as founding Secretary/Treasurer of the GNSI Finger Lakes, a local chapter of the non-profit international Guild of Natural Science Illustrators. I designed and currently serve as Webmaster for our chapter, based in Ithaca, NY. I also designed and maintained the site for the International GNSI Conference and Annual Meeting, held in Ithaca, NY on July 20-26, 2008 at Ithaca College and Cornell University, an amazing (and exhausting) experience!

In other capacities, I've participated in local arts advocacy by taking on Gallery Night of Ithaca for two year as the publicist for this quarterly event. This was a wonderful experience coordinating publicity and writing grants for seven of these events. I met many wonderful artists and felt part of a something larger than being a solitary artist. I believe my art is enriched by that experience in many tangible ways. This event series was a collaboration with The Ink Shop Printmaking Center in Ithaca, NY, a wonderful collective for whom I also offered desktop publishing skills to design note cards and business cards as an Artist Associate. During this time I learned new ways to express my love of the natural world through the printmaking techniques of etching and gum transfer.

As a freelance artist I've exhibited mainly in Upstate NY with the GNSI Finger Lakes and The Ink Shop. I live close to the border with Pennsylvania in a very rural natural region surrounded by hundreds of trees and flowers (can't wait for Spring!) planted by my organic farmer husband. I'm really itching to get back to the draft board with new ideas and materials I've been collecting while doing arts advocacy on the side. Winter is a great time to start. The season drives you inward and inside where you can reflect on all your inspirations. Between that and my career as Instructional Designer for CCFL in Corning, NY —I'm busy!

For more information, and to see some samples of my work, visit the site's listed below. The conference site also has an article about how I approached the Monarch & Milkweed painting for Acorn Designs. Enjoy!

lynn's web site |
gnsi finger lakes web site |
gnsi 2008 conference web site |