About Our Instructors
Copyright B. Barry, used with permission
Copyright J. Prentice, used with permission.
Copyright L. Thomas, used with permission
The Yale Peabody Museum’s Natural Science Illustration Program provides opportunities to learn a wide range of art techniques focused on nature and natural science illustration. Whether you are a beginner or professional, our skilled and certified instructors provide personalized support in small classes that will help you develop your abilities and discover new ways of encountering art and nature.   Our instructors are professional artists with years of experience rendering subjects from the natural world in many types of media.

Betsy Barry

Betsy brings with her 30 years of creative experience.  Her artistic expressions focus on the plants, flowers and other natural things that surround us all.  Betsy has worked in many mediums but expresses her creativity most often using colored pencil as well as pen and ink.  With this focus, she renders her subjects from life, often in situ - capturing the essence of her subject matter.  Mostly self-taught, Betsy studied drawing at Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts in Old Lyme, CT and completed a diploma course in botanical illustration with the Society of Botanical Artists, (SBA) London, earning the rank of Distinction, or highest honors. Select pieces from her coursework were chosen for display at the annual SBA Exhibition at Westminster Central Hall, London, as well as at the SBA booth at the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) Exhibition, also in London.  To learn more about Betsy, visit her website at www.Betsybarry.com


Jeanette Compton

Jeanette is a science educator and artist whose highly detailed pen and ink illustrations focus on locally found natural objects such as nests, branches, bark, fungi and other materials whose texture and form catch her attention. Her work has been shown throughout the region in both group exhibitions, including "Environmental Food Chain", RE:ARTISTE International Art Organization at Gallery MC, New York, NY and solo shows, such as "The Nature of New Haven" at Ives Gallery. She is a member of the Guild of Natural Science Illustrators.

Jeanette wrote and illustrated an environmentally-focused gardening column for the New Haven Register. She holds a BS in Biology and an MS in Environmental Education from SCSU. Jeanette is a lifelong resident of the New Haven area.


Rebecca Gelernter

Rebecca holds a bachelor’s degree in behavioral biology from Boston University and a certificate in science illustration from California State University, Monterey Bay. Among her clients are researchers from institutions on four continents (including the Peabody), Scientific American, and Nature Neuroscience.  Gelernter is a bird person, a dinosaur enthusiast, and a member of the Guild of Natural Science Illustrators.


Susannah Graedel

Susannah's artistic career is an extension of a life spent learning about the natural world and sharing her knowledge and excitement as an environmental educator in New Jersey and Connecticut.  Her accurate and aesthetic portrayals of animals and plants have been exhibited in juried art shows throughout the northeast. Susannah studied zoology at the University of Michigan, earned a master's degree in ecology and evolutionary biology from Rutgers University and earned her certificate in botanical illustration from the New York Botanical Garden.  Based on her life-long passion of learning about the natural world, Susannah is dedicated to seeing students experience art in a refreshing yet natural way.  She works with students to “see” the beauty and power evident in the natural world, and to observe it take form in the art they create.


Zoe Matthiessen

Zoe is a self-taught artist who has received awards from the Society of Illustrators and American Illustration. Art New England Magazine selected her as one of its Top Ten Emerging Artists of 2018 and as its Artist-in-Residence in 2019. She contributes regularly to The American Bystander and The Nation, and is currently producing a children’s book to be published in 2020.


Linda Miller

Drawing and painting have been Linda's lifelong passion and the focus of her education. She received her B.A. from Pitzer College in Claremont, California and has studied art as a special student at Yale University. Her work has been exhibited widely. She has illustrated two books of poetry: Windowsills by Bert Meyers and Restless Motion by Joan Egeland-Scott. She also illustrated The Big House, a memoir by Elise Knapp.  During 2004-2005, Linda was part of the Yale science-art research team that sculpted and cast the life-size Torosaurus bronze sculpture that stands in front of the Peabody Museum. She is a member of the Guild of Natural Science Illustrators. In the Natural Science Illustration Program Linda particularly enjoys the joy and excitement her students feel when learning to observe more deeply as they draw and paint from life.


Dorie Petrochko

Dorie’s interest in travel and painting birds is a lifelong passion. She has volunteered in the Peabody Museum's Vertebrate Zoology Division for the past fifteen years, where she frequently conducts research and uses the museum specimens as reference for her work.  Dorie began her early study of Fine Arts at the Arts Students League in New York City and the Brackman Studios in Madison, Connecticut. She received her BFA in Painting from Wagner College in Staten Island, and her MA in Art Education from Southern CT State University. In 2007, she received her Certificate in Botanical and Natural Science Illustration from The New York Botanical Garden. She lectures and teaches drawing and painting from nature in schools, art, and Audubon centers in CT, NY, Maine and Florida.  Dorie is the recipient of numerous awards and fellowships for her work, including the Don Eckelberry Fellowship Award for Wildlife Painting from The Philadelphia Academy of Natural Sciences and the Julia and David White Foundation fellowship for painting in Costa Rica. Dorie exhibits her paintings and drawings through galleries and commissions nationally and internationally.  For more of Dorie's work, visit http://www.aviartis.com.   


Jan Prentice

Jan began the serious study of art after a 15 year career in business. She earned a certificate in Botanical Illustration from the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx, NY after attending the Lyme Academy of Fine Arts and Paier College of Art.  She was awarded an artist's residency in the COM.EN.ART program specializing in natural science art at the Huyck Preserve in Rensselaerville, NY. Her artwork was included in the Focus on Nature XII Exhibition at the New York State Museum in Albany and now resides in its permanent collection.  Her work is exhbited widely including the prestigious international exhibition Birds in Art at the Leigh Yawkey Museum of Art, Wausau, WI;  The Art of the Animal at the Bennington Center for the Art, Bennington, VT; Salon International (Greenhouse Gallery of Fine Art, San Antonio, Texas), the University of Colorado Museum of Natural History (Boulder, CO) and many other regional venues.  She served as a volunteer at the Herbarium at the Peabody Museum for six years and is a member of the Guild of Natural Science Illustrators.  Through the Natural Science Illustration program, Jan helps students become acquainted with the complexity and simplicity of nature in a way that illuminates observing nature as a statement of truth.  Art is uniquely qualified to help people see and absorb the natural world around them.


Bivenne Staiger

Bivenne Harvey Staiger is the recipient of many prestigious awards for her work in watercolor, including the Silver Medal from the American Watercolor Society’s 152nd Annual Exhibition (2019), which was also selected as part of the AWS Travel Exhibition, and Third Place in Connecticut Watercolor’s 78th Annual Exhibition (2019).  A three-month solo exhibition of her work is slated for 2020 at the Celeste LeWitt Gallery in Farmington, CT.

She is a long-time regional instructor in Watercolor and is professionally affiliated with many art groups, including the Salmagundi Art Club, Academic Artists Association, Connecticut Academy of Fine Artists, Connecticut Watercolor Society, New England Watercolor Society, and North East Watercolor Society, among many others.  Visit her website at www.bivennefineart.com to view her work in watercolor and other media.


Linda Thomas

Linda is an illustrator, muralist and fine artist.  Her award-winning works include murals, portraits, landscapes and wildlife, represented in museums, nature centers, galleries and private collections. One of Linda’s special interests is to depict flora and fauna within the context of their natural environments. A Washington University graduate (St. Louis, MO; BFA in illustration), Linda has been active as an illustrator in the fields of interpretive art, advertising and publishing. Her illustrations have appeared on book jackets, album covers, magazines and other publications.  Her interpretive art includes exhibit work for environmental centers, conservation and government organizations including Key Deer National Wildlife Refuge, FL, The Nature Conservancy’s Sam’s Point Preserve Conservation Center (NY) and the Beardsley Zoo (CT).


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