Collaborative Chalk Mural

Kelp Forest Panel for the Collaborative Chalk Mural Party

Kelp Forest Mural: 10 x 16.5 feet. Click to enlarge image.

California Coast Panel for the Collaborative Chalk Mural Party.

California Coast Mural : 4 x 7 feet. Click to enlarge image.

Sample drawing, Taina Litwak, © 2016.

Sample drawing, Taina Litwak, © 2016. Click to enlarge image.

Suggested species list for Collaborative Mural

Download a five-page PDF listing of some suggested species and the resource links listed on this page.

The GNSI Exhibits Committee is doing something NEW!

Kelp Forest Panel
10 × 16.5 feet
81 drawing spots (small 8” × 10”, medium 12” × 15”, large 15” × 18”) plus odd spaces
Black diversity borders for names

California Coast Panel
4 × 7 feet
19 drawing spots (sized approximately the same as large panel) plus odd spaces
Black diversity borders for names

Get ready for a Monday night party! Expect a delightful evening of drawing, wine and desserts—working along side a group of your very talented colleagues! We are going to create something very special here.Here is a chance to work big—and even be messy! Come prepared with a special species or two you want to draw in chalk. Do some research and bring references or just show up. If you can bring the field guidebooks you have for the area, it will be a great help. We will have some printed photo images to use if you suddenly get inspired. And if you don’t feel like drawing, we need calligraphers to chalk the borders with names. There is power in the naming of things—and we will be focusing attention on the vast diversity of the local ecosystem with a listing of names, common and scientific. Octopuses, echinoderms, fish, mammals (bones even), feather worms, anemones, birds, algae, sea slugs, Foraminifera, tartigrades… all kinds of things we seldom get the excuse to draw!

You will be drawing on prepared paint-primed paper (see images, left; click for larger view). The large Kelp Forest Panel will be in three sections so it can be easily worked on. It will not be put together and installed until Wednesday. Considering the amazing group of illustrators who usually attend GNSI conferences, we expect this will be a crazy quilt of beautiful interwoven images. We provide chalks and libations; you provide the inspiration and the fun. Having your drawings break outside their allotted space boxes is encouraged—with the blessing of your neighboring illustrators of course.

The two murals will hang on public display for about a month at the Sanctuary Exploration Center (SEC), a block from the Municipal Wharf—the heart of Santa Cruz. This should garner our profession, our illustrators, and the science some nice public attention.

The conference committee is hosting a private opening reception for the finished chalk mural in the exhibition space of the Sanctuary Exploration Center (SEC) on Thursday, July 7th, from 7:30–9:30 pm. Directly after dinner, shuttle buses will bring us all down to the SEC, a block from the famous Santa Cruz Municipal Wharf. We will have two hours to enjoy our chalk mural, the SEC exhibits, and dessert. Buses will return us to the dorms at 9:30, but public shuttles run later for those who want to stay in the pier area and enjoy the nightlife.

Species lists (not exhaustive by any means) for local kelp forest and the coast:

Birds local to the Monterey Bay area:

AMAZING photo library (most images in public domain):'s photography site, created by Scott Gietler. Extensive Southern California underwater field guide, with over 450 different species:


Questions? Contact Taina Litwak.

— Taina Litwak and Robin Carlson, 2016 Chalk Mural Coordinators