Catie is a San Francisco based artist and naturalist working to honor the natural world (and humans’ relationship with it) through exploration, observation, and documentation. Catie has studied elephant seals on the California coast, salmon fisheries in southern Oregon, and the marine fish species of Baja California. She is a frequent scientific illustrator for CA State Parks, a bird surveyor for the Golden Gate Audubon Society, and a volunteer for the Invertebrate Zoology department at the California Academy of Sciences.

By joining visual art, videography, and photography with scientific research as a vehicle for communication and inspiration, Catie hopes to connect fellow humans to the ultimately undefinable and fundamentally unending beauty of our wild planet’s biodiversity.

California Sandy Beach (left) California Tidepools (Right) 2020

Pen on bristol board

I like making annual videos encompassing the various adventures I have been fortunate to have in and around the ocean, both for work and for fun.

OCEAN 2021 Footage: Catie Michel Music: “Pure” by Blackbird Blackbird

The impacts of the global climate crisis are becoming more and more palpable every day. This piece depicts a chambered nautilus, a prehistoric species of cephalopod that has been around for 500 million years. To me, this animal represents nature’s old, evolved wisdom, a force from which I draw inspiration and respite every day. I am encouraged by nature’s ability to persist, to balance, and to offer a model to live by. I believe in a future where we humans practice traditional, reciprocal relationships with the natural world, and where intersectional social equity, allyship, empowerment, science and integrity are the absolute priorities of our societies.

Chambered Nautilus, 2019 Bodner Series

Acrylic and paint paints on ply board; 3.5 ft X 2.5 ft

Acrylic and paint pens on ply board 4ft X 3 ft

Lord Bodner, 2017 Bodner Series

Fully based on marine biologist Lord Bodner’s 19th century copper engraving of a giant pacific octopus, thus the collection is named after this scientist/artist.

Acrylic and paint pens on ply board 28in X 39in

Stone Scorpionfish, 2020 Bodner Series

I saw this fish for the first time sitting on the sandy bottom about 12 feet down in the Gulf of California, and again a year later in various nearby different locations. I quickly grew to love these fish and their camouflage abilities; you could barely tell one was beneath you until you focused hard enough to find their large gaping eyes, or until they decided you were too close and slowly expanded their spiny, venomous fins in warning, thus becoming much bigger.

Their algae-mimicking scales and attached decorations are the exact color of the surrounding substrate and are truly so beautiful.

OCEAN 2019 (left) Footage: Catie Michel Music: “Everywhere” by Fleetwood Mac OCEAN 2018 (right) Footage: Catie Michel Music: “Endless Spring” by Houses

Grand Canyon (left) Turkey Vulture in Baja (right)


Illustrating organisms that I encounter in the field is how I connect to my research and the captivating natural world around us. Generating visual images, notes, and questions while conducting research is my favorite way to process the world, and it is especially joyous when the line between creating art and doing science is blurred.

Observations of organisms and beginning illustrations are made in the field, then more details are often added later upon further study and exploration. Many illustrations are the beginnings of larger fine art pieces.

Heermann’s gulls, 2020

Acrylic on soft top surfboard.

Redwing Blackbird study, 2021 Watercolor

Hoopoe study, 2021 Watercolor

Snowy Owl study, 2021 Watercolor

Footage: Catie Michel Music: “Dey” by High Highs