Jo Situ Allen's lifelong passion for nature and plant life has driven her to earn a geography/environmental studies degree at UCLA, an MBA in sustainable management, and a career as a sustainability consultant. But the one activity that most reflects her sense of awe at nature's beauty is illustration. Throughout the years, she has maintained a side gig as an artist and comic-book illustrator, drawing various floral and earthy specimens in lush, intricate and detailed drawings. Now, Allen has debuted the first in a series of coloring books that explore the various ecosystems that live within our urban worlds, starting with a book focused on Laguna Beach.
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Titled The Accidental Naturalist, Allen's work aims to influence the user to go out and learn about plants within a specific environment. "A coloring book seemed to be the perfect means to start a conversation with someone who is looking to be a little more creative and meditative," Allen says. "My ultimate hope is that someone who is coloring in this feels a sense of wonder about these local species and looks up that species in the glossary to find out more." Hopefully, Allen says, the user "accidentally" becomes a naturalist.
Raised in Los Angeles and now based in Laguna Beach with her family, it's easy to imagine Allen getting swept away by the wondrous hills and greenery in her south Orange County beach city. Within each page, a gorgeous arrangement of vegetation, animals, birds, leaves, ocean life and insects await a colorful interpretation while building your appreciation for the greener side of Laguna Beach.
You can find her coloring book at her website (www.dirtyeraser.com) or at various local stores including Laguna Art Supply, Laguna Art Museum, Tuvalu, Montage and Laguna Beach Books. The next book in the series, San Francisco and Beyond, will be released at the end of the summer.