BSCS group photo
Front row, l-r, Justine Newell, Sue Kowalski, Laney Hicks. Seated at left, Renee Stephens. Back row, l-r, Marti Torres, Rhiannon Baxter, Aleigh Raffelson, Stacey Luce, Karen Askinas, Lisa Carey, Mark Bloom, Jon Adams, Anne Westbrook, Pam Van Scotter, Christina Kingkade, April Gardner, Chris Moraine, Jeff Markle, Justin Hutchcraft, Rich Wenger.
BSCS was honored on 26 June with a visit and a very special gift from naturalist artist and former BSCS artist-illustrator Laney Hicks. Laney was one of a team of artists employed by BSCS in the 60s to create magnificent, original illustrations and paintings for its early curriculum programs. The artist group became known as the finest biological art group in the country.
Born in Colorado, Laney earned a B.F.A from the University of Denver and began her career after being hired by then-BSCS Art Department Supervisor Jane Larson, who was in the process of building a staff of first-rate artists.
“I was just fresh out of college with a degree in commercial art,” says Hicks. “But I had a background with values about the natural world and animals. It was a perfect job. Jane taught me way more than I learned in college. Working for the BSCS under Jane gave my life focus. I am truly a product of doing scientific illustration. Everything changed in my artistic goals and how I handled the subject matter. It wasn’t just a painting of an animal or a scene.”
Following her 2 ½-year stint with BSCS, Hicks began to focus on animal behavior as the key ingredient in her art. The wildlife, she explained, had to be doing something in the painting. “It was a chance to show the private lives of our fellow creatures.”
“For me,” says Laney, “it’s all about seeing pattern and design, common to both science and naturalist art. Observation and first-hand study is basic to what I decide to portray. All my ideas comes from outside, not inside. I want a dynamic insight into life.”
Laney says she hopes educators can help redevelop the use of art as a tool and method of study, especially in the scientific disciplines. “If you have to draw something, you really look at proportion, color, structure, and all the factors of habitat, like weather, geology, vegetation, and of course the specific behavior of plants and animals - to teach observation through drawing.
“There is a difference in using our eyes in the everyday things we do and take for granted, like getting dressed. It is another thing to stop and study the clouds, our pets, and even spending time in the wilderness. Science and art are so close in this respect.”
Laney Hicks donated an original wildlife painting, titled Juniper Ridge, to BSCS in memory of her mentor, Jane Larson. “I thank Jane for guiding me into an approach to animal art that has lasted a lifetime, and is truly satisfying artistically and hopefully expresses the nature of our world and encourages appreciation of animal behavior.”
Learn more about BSCS’s history.
Learn more about Artist Laney Hicks.
Laney’s evolution into a well-known wildlife artist has been established through a layered and admirable background. Her artworks have been in regional, national and international exhibitions, the permanent collections of many museums and she has been recognized in various books and other national publications.
The careful research and study of animal anatomy is one of the traits that she prides herself on and this knowledge of science is clearly portrayed in her paintings.