Kelly Houle and her Illuminated Darwin project in ASU magazine

The magazine of Arizona State University (ASU) has started a four-part series on Kelly Houle and her Illuminated Origin of Species project, which I’ve highlighted on this site several times. The first part of the magazine’s story is here, and I’ll note the others as they go up.  Below are the title page and the frontispiece, which I’ve seen in person; they’re stunning (and large).



Kelly will also be illustrating the children’s book I (or rather we) are doing; the text is largely done and she’s busy drawing cats and things Indian.

Oh, and I should also point you to Kelly’s eBay site, where you can buy her lovely nature-related artwork, including prints, paintings, cards, and books at reasonable prices. Her gold “There is grandeur in this view of life” greeting cards are my go-to card.


  1. Ann German
    Posted September 8, 2016 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

    Lovely. At PCCE’s suggestion, I bought three of her little tiny paintings of fruit and some of her lovely Darwin greeting cards. Thanks, again, for the recommendation.

    • Posted September 8, 2016 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

      The greeting cards are my go-to card these days, and I recommend them highly.

      • Posted September 8, 2016 at 5:51 pm | Permalink

        The illustrations are gorgeous. As a newbie to Jerry’s Blog, could you please direct me to the Darwin greeting cards.

        • Posted September 8, 2016 at 6:00 pm | Permalink

          All of Kelly’s items for sale can be found here:

          The greeting cards in particular are at this site, and there’s only one batch left:

          The cards are with raised gold lettering, and come with heavy matching envelopes and a circular embossed gold sticker to fasten each envelope.

          If you buy these, I hope she’ll make more.

          • Diana MacPherson
            Posted September 8, 2016 at 6:02 pm | Permalink

            I also have one of her hand painted beetles and I highly recommend it! It sits on the wall where I can see it whenever I’m at my dining room table.

            • Posted September 8, 2016 at 7:31 pm | Permalink


            • Posted September 8, 2016 at 7:38 pm | Permalink

              Thanks Diane, I did buy them! I intend to use them as graduation cards for students in my lab this Spring. Thanks again for the link.


  2. Pliny the in Between
    Posted September 8, 2016 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

    A great talent

  3. J. Eliot Mason
    Posted September 8, 2016 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

    Thank you so much for pointing me to this. Beautiful!

  4. Diana MacPherson
    Posted September 8, 2016 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

    Beautiful work as always, Kelly!

  5. nicky
    Posted September 8, 2016 at 1:48 pm | Permalink

    A wonderful illustrator. I can think of half a dozen great books that would even be greater with her illustrations.
    From Richard’s “The Magic of Reality” to ‘our own’ WEIT.
    Stunning work.

  6. Merilee
    Posted September 8, 2016 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

    Gorgeous, Kelly!

  7. Heather Hastie
    Posted September 8, 2016 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

    Such beautiful work!

  8. Sastra
    Posted September 8, 2016 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

    Wow. Just … wow.

  9. SA Gould
    Posted September 8, 2016 at 4:02 pm | Permalink


  10. W.Benson
    Posted September 8, 2016 at 6:07 pm | Permalink

    “There is grandeur in this view of life,” wrote Darwin. Kelly Houle’s striking artwork makes this tangible. A large slice of the academic community, perhaps surprisingly, seems to agree with Darwin. In November of 2015, and I think this got by Jerry, several prestigious UK libraries and publishing associations organized a national Academic Book Week to divulge the importance of academic publishing. Leading up to the event, the ABW commissioned an online poll to identify the “most influential academic book of all time.” Their website posted a short list of 20 books – selected by librarians, publishers and book sellers from an initial list of 400 – by writers such as Shakespeare, Plato, Kant, Stephen Hawking, Orwell, Adam Smith, Rachael Carson, Einstein, Thomas Paine, Simone de Beauvoir, and K. Marx & F. Engels. The winner, however, with over a quarter of the 900+ votes cast, and leaving runner-up “The Communist Manifesto” far behind, was Charles Darwin’s “On the Origin of Species”.
    Neither nature nor Darwin’s adventure as a field naturalist was, in the nitty-gritty, as placid as Houle’s artwork seems to suggest. At least once the Beagle, and Darwin, came a hair’s breadth of becoming a footnote to history. “On the 13th [of January, 1833],” wrote Darwin of FitzRoy’s attempt to navigate Cape Horn, “the storm raged with its full fury: our horizon was narrowly limited by the sheets of spray borne by the wind. The sea looked ominous, like a dreary waving plain with patches of drifted snow: whilst the ship laboured heavily, the albatross glided with its expanded wings right up the wind. At noon a great sea broke over us, and filled one of the whale boats, which was obliged to be instantly cut away. The poor Beagle trembled at the shock, and for a few minutes would not obey her helm; but soon, like a good ship that she was, she righted and came up to the wind again. Had another sea followed the first, our fate would have been decided soon, and for ever. We had now been twenty-four days trying in vain to get westward . . .”

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted September 9, 2016 at 10:21 am | Permalink

      “the storm raged with its full fury […]

      They don’t call it the “Roaring Forties” without good reason. A full-on hurricane at sea is exhilarating, but scary. Even in 60,000 tonnes of steel. My (hard) hat goes off (blown off, and over the side – more than a few times!) to those magnificent idiots who go round the Horn in small boats.

  11. Posted September 8, 2016 at 6:29 pm | Permalink

    Lovely stuff. I really love that painting of the sea, clouds, and ship (Beagle?) and the tree of life suspended above. Wonderful!

  12. Mark R.
    Posted September 8, 2016 at 7:07 pm | Permalink

    Mind blowing! I tried to get some of her mini fruits but was outbid on all of them. Can’t wait for another mini-fruit or insect auction.

  13. Ken Pidcock
    Posted September 8, 2016 at 8:10 pm | Permalink

    I was disappointed that the eBay site didn’t have the tree cards. I bought a box of those a few years ago. Perfect for any occasion where an elegant biological take is called for. (More frequently than you might imagine!)

    • Posted September 9, 2016 at 6:19 pm | Permalink

      I’m sure she’ll have more made and put them up. There are ALWAYS gonna be tree cards, and I have only one left. I’ll email her.

  14. Posted September 8, 2016 at 10:26 pm | Permalink

    Beautiful indeed.

    Well done, Kelly. Thank you.

  15. darrelle
    Posted September 9, 2016 at 7:01 am | Permalink

    Beautiful work. I’ve been a fan since the first post about Kelly’s OTOOS project. I especially like the beetle pieces. I hope there are more, or similar, sometime in the future.

  16. Posted September 9, 2016 at 11:48 am | Permalink

    Endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful …

  17. Posted September 9, 2016 at 10:14 pm | Permalink

    Thank you, everybody, for the nice comments. I’m looking into having more cards made, and hope to have new work to show soon!

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