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UCLA Magazine Summer 2004
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Summer 2004 Bruin Walk


Quick draw

Illustrations Courtesy of Carol Felixson

Illustration of Fish in an Aquatic Environment

Illustration of a Beetle on a Leaf

Illustration of Landscape with Wildlife

Illustration of Vegitation

If your youngsters aren't checking out UCLA staffer Carol Felixson's "Drawing From Nature" feature in the Los Angeles Times, they're missing out on a whole lot of fun. "Drawing From Nature," which runs in the Times Kids' Reading Room the first Sunday of each month, teaches children how to make fun pictures of plants and animals with easy-to-follow instructions and low-cost materials.

Since the Times began running the feature three years ago, young readers have created colorful drawings of stink beetles, yucca plants, tree frogs, popcorn flowers, great horned owls, butterflies and other living things, big and small.

"Drawing From Nature" isn't all fun and games. Each article includes brief instruction in science and an art technique. But Felixson, education and outreach coordinator for UCLA's Stunt Ranch Reserve and the Mildred Mathias Botanical Gardens, has a kid-friendly writing style that makes the lessons easy to digest.

Felixson credits her stepfather, Gene Gach, a former PR man, with coming up with the idea for the feature. "I was trying to get the word out about the K-12 environmental programs at the Stunt Ranch and the Mathias Botanical Gardens," Felixson says. "My stepdad noticed the LA Times Kids' page, and said, 'You might want to send them a story to publicize your programs.' "

Felixson wrote an article titled "A Hand With Yellow Fingers" about one of her favorite residents of the botanical gardens — the banana plant — and recruited a young friend to draw a picture of the big-leafed plant to illustrate the piece. Then, she submitted the package to Mary Ellen Walker '74, editor of the Times Kids' Reading Room.

Walker loved the submission and suggested that Felixson turn her stepfather's idea into a monthly feature that would blend science and art instruction. "Drawing From Nature" now runs at the top of the Kids' Reading Room, which is part of the Times Reading by 9 childhood-literacy effort. Felixson does the writing while school-age artists supply the drawings.

Being a kid at heart has helped make the project a success, Felixson says. "I try to get into the head of a 9-year-old, which for me is pretty easy."



2005 The Regents of the University of California