Clara began to draw after a formal course of study in biology. When the possibility of drawing animals and plants materialized in Chicago, she applied herself to learning with hunger and focus. Extraordinary luck brought her a position as a scientific illustrator at The Field Museum, where for 27 years she had the good fortune to learn by making measured specimen drawings for scientists, depicting the important characters as they were explained by the scientist who needed the drawing. With the help of colleagues, she honed her craft and slowly began to think of herself as an artist.

Happy life changes brought her to the vibrant arts community of Jersey City from where she continues to draw and learn. Mostly retired from scientific illustration now, she has begun to explore the broader world of art, outside the world of natural science illustration. A lifelong interest in growing plants led her to Brunswick Community Garden. When not there, she explores Liberty State Park, particularly Caven Point, sketchbook in hand, finding solace in stopping to look, seeking to learn from what she sees, and then depicting it in some way.


After many years of illustrating scientific specimens and doing simple graphic design for scientists, I have been exploring what art means for me in a more general way.

I have certainly learned that I need to draw something in order to see it, not the other way around. Sometimes I have the feeling that my hands are doing the seeing as I draw. As this usually results in a better drawing I look for ways to cultivate it. Always drawn to the water’s edge, Liberty State Park and particularly Caven Point allow me time for nature journaling, the perfect way to learn by drawing.

My exploration of the wider world of art has taken me back to actual media: watercolor, pen-and-ink, and graphite. Watercolor keeps me engaged both for what it can do if left to itself and how it can be used to render an object of interest. Blending those qualities in a piece of art is most fun!

Recently I have found myself revisiting pen and ink, my first medium, because of its abstract qualities. They give me a fresh focus on design and call me to push the medium where I have not taken it before. I recently enjoyed the challenge to create a botanical illustration, seeking clarity and simplicity in the process.