Aleta Karstad


Aleta is a freelance museum-based biological illustrator and natural history artist and author. She was born in Guelph, Ontario, in 1951, and her family was immersed in familiarity with wild animals, and travelled in the western USA and Kenya as well as several times across Canada to Aleta’s heart’s home, Vancouver Island.

Her most characteristic work is highly detailed portraits of plants or animals in transparent watercolour or ink, directly from nature. The basis of her published work has been her illustrated journals. In 1975 Aleta began watercolour portraits for Francis Cook’s Natural History of Canadian Amphibians and Reptiles. This series continues, as living Canadian specimens of the rarer species are found, to this day.

Aleta does not paint from photographs or recreate hypothetical scenes, except for iconic portraits of the recently dead. Her new work is moving in two directions: large-scale studio watercolours of small arrangements of shells and other beach-combed objects, meant to be miniatures which everyone can see, and intense field-painted oils of landscapes and flowers.

From Aleta:

My scenes are full of plants – I love trees. Everything that grows is worthy of note and celebration.

My biologist husband Fred Schueler and I do what we call “Landscape Art & Science” in the aid of conservation, where the art supports the science and the science informs the art.

Contact Aleta:
Karstad and her Plein Air Painting on Facebook

Aleta’s Gallery: