Submitted by Linda Ann Vorobik
I graduated from Western Washington University (then a State College) in 1977 with two dreams … to live on Lopez Island, and to become a professional botanical illustrator. To my amazement, I am living both of those dreams.
Have you noticed how happy people are on this wonderful island of ours? It seems that if you are visiting for the first time, if you can only visit sometimes, or if you live here, the magical beauty of this place casts its spell upon you. It is quiet here, with lovely landscapes in every direction. I fell in love with life on Lopez when I was a kid, coming on weekends and for the best summers ever from the family home in Seattle. My parents, Casimer and Ruth, gave me an appreciation for wild places and their native plants and animals. By college I knew two things: I wanted to live a life full of art and botany, and I wanted to live on Lopez.
How did my journey begin? In college I told my botany professor at Western, Ron Taylor, that I wanted to do illustrations like those in our flora, Vascular Plants of the Pacific Northwest (Hitchcock et al). Nine credit hours and 60 illustrations later, I had done most of the drawings for his lab manual. Upon graduating in 1977, I moved to Lopez thinking I would live here for a break year, but ended up getting a job with The Nature Conservancy (TNC). Nothing odd about that, except that I didn’t have a phone, and only learned of their response (to my hand-caligraphied resume) because my neighbor, Hildegarde Goss, walked the mile in my driveway to tell me TNC had called.
My supervisor recognized my ability to draw, and on top of my more tedious work of data transcription (by hand … no computers for a beginning worker), gave me illustration work to do. The next step along my path was a fellowship to the University of Oregon, where I was fortunate enough to work with David Wagner, a brilliant museum scientist who grew up in India, and recognized the importance of the balance of art and science in one’s life.
I realize now how important other people are in helping me reach my goals, and how, without luck, my dreams would not have come true. However, I don’t think I would have made it without an underlying push towards my goals, a drive fueled by curiosity and passion, in my case a love for art and the beauty of the natural world.
So now my life has come full circle from the college girl who wanted to learn how to draw plants. I have illustrated several books, and recently contributed many drawings to the revised edition of Hitchcock’s Flora of the Pacific Northwest. Some dreams do come true.
Linda Ann Vorobik holds a Ph.D. in biology, and has worked professionally as a botanical artist and botanist for more than 30 years. She teaches workshops and shows her art at Chimera Gallery and other shows such as the Seattle Flower and Garden Show. She will be offering a weekend workshop in botanical illustration Oct. 21-22 at 9 a.m. at the Lopez Grange. Vorobik will also be offering a free lecture and show of work Saturday, Oc. 21, 7 p.m. at the grange. For more info, see www.VorobikBotanicalArt.com.