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I hail from Houston, Texas. As a little girl, my favorite things were watching Flipper, attending SeaCamp, and drawing killer whales in all of my notebooks. I loved the natural world, especially the ocean.

 

I studied marine biology at the University of Miami in Florida. The constant influx of oceanic information and the camaraderie fellow ocean-lovers made college a slice of heaven. Those clear turquoise waters filled with smooth nudibranchs, precious little sharks, manatees, yellow flamingo tongues on purple sea fans, gnarly stingrays and seagrasses, completely enthralled me. I lived in a natural world high for four and half years. That’s not to say my schooling wasn’t rigorous. Graduate school in Corpus Christi, Texas was a whole new level of combing through no-frills papers and complex concepts. But it was for the love of the ocean.

 

In the middle of my Masters I served in the United States Peace Corps as part of the, now discontinued, Master’s International Program. I served a community in need of technical marine biology knowledge and collected data for my thesis. I lived in Panama for nearly three years, assigned to a very small community in the Bocas del Toro region, near the border with Costa Rica. People often ask, “How was Peace Corps?” a question which begs a book of an answer. Peace Corps was wonderfully rewarding, beautiful and so challenging it nearly stopped me in my tracks. The effect my time in Panama had on me is still difficult to describe. In terms of my artwork, Panama presented me with a deluge of natural life. I lived in a verdant jungle, on a small island, surrounded by mangrove forests, screensaver-worthy beaches, tropical waters, and so many animals. Life was soggy with moisture and saturated with color. Writing about it from my current home in Seattle in the winter makes me yearn for Panama.

 

After Panama I returned to Texas to process my data, write my thesis and graduate. Then I moved to Seattle to attend a Natural Science Illustration course at the University of Washington, and to cool off. Since I was a little girl, drawing orcas in all my notebooks, I have wanted to live in Seattle, home of the killer whales. I also met the love of my life here and we are married, happily installed in a little Ballard home with two young kitties.

-Grayce Crabtree