1. In anything at all, perfection is finally attained not when there is no longer anything to add, but when there is no longer anything to take away, when a body has been stripped down to its nakedness.
    — Author of The Little Prince, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry in his memoir, Wind, Sand and Stars
     

  2. On New Year’s Eve, a glowing, LED-lined “puck” hovered high above Main Street in downtown Ann Arbor. As the last seconds of 2013 ticked down, the puck—designed by Claudette Jocelyn Stern and John Daniel Walters of Ann Arbor’s own METAL—descended to the street.

    I made some pen studies that night. Last week, I finally got around to working one up with watercolor.

     

  3. The London skyline as seen from 4 of its 13 protected vistas: Parliament Hill, Kenwood House, the Serpentine Bridge, and Westminster Pier. During my trip, I visited all thirteen. You’ll be able to see the full set of vistas in my book, London: The Information Capital, which will be published by Penguin Books in November.

     

  4. Elephant-nose fish. Lemon cichlids. Royal twig catfish. 

    I worked at National Geographic for 9 years. I’ve read a lot about biodiversity. I’ve been to a few zoos. Yet I had no idea these creatures existed. And these are just the fish. Seriously, if you are in London, I implore you: GO TO THE ZOO. It’s spectacular.

     

  5. The moon rises over houseboats on Regent’s Canal. London, England

     

  6. The Grant Museum of Zoology at University College London was open late on Valentine’s Day. Visitors and their dates were treated to a complimentary glass of wine and an endless display of buzzkills, including: a preserved infant manatee, a baby kangaroo in mid-suckle, and a severed bunny head. 

     

  7. :) and :( 

    British Museum. London, England

     

  8. The sun sets on Tower Bridge. London, England

    I spent the past two weeks in London, gathering research for a book of maps and information graphics I’m designing and co-writing for Penguin Books. I did not have as much time as I would have liked to sketch, but I did return home with a few, which I’ll post over the next week.

     

  9. For the past ten days, I’ve been counting down to 2014 with my favorite sketches from a residency at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.

    #1. Glaciers are like bulldozers. When the Wisconsin Ice Sheet stopped advancing and began to melt some 10 to 14,000 years ago, it left behind heaps of rock and soil along the shores of present-day Lake Michigan. Geologists call these heaps moraines; visitors to Sleeping Bear call ‘em names like Pyramid Point and Empire Bluffs. When I made this sketch, I was sitting atop one of those prehistoric ridges, looking back across Platte Bay. Night was nearing and the late October wind wouldn’t quit.

    Making stuff that lasts takes time. It’s a slow, reflective process, one of constant revision. Looking back on 2013—and the thousands of years before—I see traces of the creative process, the incremental steps, the period when the grind stopped, the ice thawed, and the rhythms of waves and wind took over. They carved out coves and blew sand high atop the headlands. Sleeping Bear Dunes, “the most beautiful place in America,” was not formed in an instant, nor can it be captured in an instant. Because here’s the real beauty: the sands are still shifting.

    Here’s to taking however long it takes in 2014. Happy New Year!

     

  10. I’m counting down to 2014 with ten sketches from Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. 

    #2. The Sleeping Bear Point Trail passes through a “ghost forest,” where bare, bleached trunks poke from sand that once buried them.