"As far back as I can remember I have always had the same two interests, wildlife and art. I loved the outdoors growing up and in my free time I was either out fishing, searching for turtles and snakes or I was painting." This statement by Matt Patterson describes a fairly typical history of artists who become signature members of AFC and who continue to contribute to the AFC's conservation mission.
Matt grew up in the small town of New Ipswich, NH. His father was a biology teacher and early on he was exposed to all types of animals. "I have always had the same two interests, wildlife and art. I love the outdoors and in my free time growing up I was either out fishing, searching for turtles and snakes or I was painting. Today things haven't changed much. I am a professional artist and my work reflects my love for nature. I have been bitten by snapping turtles and have caught alligators from a kayak all in the attempt to gather reference for my illustrations. I studied illustration at The Art Institute of Boston and have always had a focus on wildlife.....particularly reptiles and amphibians."
Matt's passion for reptiles and amphibians has expressed itself in a recently published a book titled "The Snake and the Salamander - Reptiles and Amphibians from Maine to Virginia". One of the goals with this book is to help develop an appreciation for these amazing animals and promote conservation. One of the goals with the book is to help readers develop an interest in these animals and research them more. More education will hopefully lead to conservation of these beautiful and amazing species.
This book was published by John's Hopkins University Press and it is a combination of an art/coffee table book and guide. As Matt describes it: "The book explores the diverse collection of reptiles and amphibians that inhabit the northeastern United States covering 83 different species. Alvin R. Breisch did the writing for this book while I completed all the illustrations. Unlike a field guide we made the decision to illustrate each species in a typical habitat for that species as well as showing predator-prey relationships, reproduction, morphological variation, or other interesting aspect of the species. We also decided to group the species by habitats rather than the traditional frog-salamander-snake-lizard-turtle format used by many books. Our belief is that if people think of wildlife as associated with particular habitats they will have a better appreciation and understanding of a species needs, a first step in effective conservation."
The end result is that the book is a series of short stories. The northeast is wilder than most people realize. Most of the short species accounts center on the biology and identification of the organism but many also touch on history and conservation. Hopefully that the information provided will tweak the reader's interest enough so that they research in more about these amazing animals.