Bellamy Parks Jansen
February 17, 2009
For Immediate Release
Bellamy Parks Jansen has loved art since childhood. Her love of plants came early as well. Her father, Dr. Doug Parks, was a large animal veterinarian whose practice was largely based in the Sand Hills of Western Nebraska. As a child, she accompanied her father on many animal calls. She encountered many wildflowers and plants and he taught her many of the names.
In college, Ms. Jansen was pulled in two very different directions. She enjoyed science, but she also loved art. When she enrolled in college, she had to make a choice to study either science or art, or so she thought. Initially, she chose to study art, having been awarded a full tuition scholarship by Chadron State College in Western Nebraska. Missing the challenge of the sciences, she changed her area of study to biology and then back to art again. Finally, her botany professor, Dr. Ron Weedon, suggested that she resolve the conflict by combining the two and becoming a scientific illustrator. She attended the University of Nebraska for 3½ years, obtaining additional course work to augment her degree. When she graduated from Chadron State College, she had the equivalent of two degrees, one in art and the other in biological science.
Ms. Jansen worked for the Department of Agronomy at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln from 1986 to 1990 as staff illustrator. In that time she completed work for numerous educational books and publications. In 1991, she was asked to display several pieces in the Nebraska State Museum for an exhibit on the Botanical Exploration of Nebraska. In 2005, Ms. Jansen was the featured artist at the Mari Sandoz High Plains Heritage Center in Chadron, Nebraska, where over 50 pieces of her best work were displayed.
Although botanical illustrators may have varying combinations of education and experience, Ms. Jansen believes that it is her training in plant biology and taxonomy that has enabled her to work successfully as a botanical illustrator for more than twenty five years. She says, "A botanical illustrator who doesn't have scientific training is going to struggle with the terminology and have difficulty identifying the relevant taxonomic features of each species. Being a botanical illustrator requires a balance of technical skill, knowledge, and artistic ability.” Ms. Jansen’s training allows her to know what to keep and what to eliminate when creating a scientifically correct illustration. She can work from living or pressed specimens and she prides herself on being able to take "a mangled, dried, crushed specimen with virtually no color left and turn it into a beautiful drawing." It usually takes her 15 to 20 hours to complete a detailed illustration. She notes, "My job is to translate the scientist’s vision of what they want for their illustration into something they will publish with their paper, article, or book."
Bellamy Parks Jansen is considered one of the best botanical illustrators in the nation. During the twenty five year span of her career, she has created over 2000 botanical illustrations. Ms. Jansen’s work as a freelance botanical illustrator is primarily for university publications. Her most recent project involves creating more than 350 illustrations for Field Guide to Oklahoma Plants, First and Second Editions, by Dr. Ron Tyrl, Dr. Terrence Bidwell, Dr. Ron Masters and Dr. Dwayne Elmore; published by Oklahoma State University. Other books she has illustrated include: Uses of Plants by the Indians of the Missouri River Region, North American Range Plants, Common Legumes of the Great Plains, Weeds of Nebraska and the Great Plains, and Nebraska Range and Pasture Forbs and Shrubs, to name a few. During her career, she has illustrated or contributed illustrations to over 70 publications. She is now self employed and working on a contract basis.
Last Updated: 15 March 2010