Marlene Hill Donnelly was born into a family of artists. Both of
her parents, her grandfather, and various aunts and uncles
were professional artists. Despite growing up surrounded
by art and practicing art, she also felt the allure of
science. In high school, she began to focus on her science
courses and spent her spare time ensconced in the quiet
halls of the Field Museum in Chicago, drawing skeletons.
After graduating with a degree in Zoology from the University
of Illinois, she worked at the University as a veterinary
pharmacology technician. There she met the scientific
illustrator for the veterinary college and realized for
the first time that art and science could be combined
in a career. She returned to Chicago for three years
of study at the American Academy of Art, concentrating
on the skills necessary to be a scientific illustrator.
Today Donnelly works primarily as an illustrator for the
Department of Geology at the Field Museum, but she is very active
in other areas as well. She has a variety of freelance clients, including
the Belle Isle Aquarium, the Smithsonian Institution, HarperCollins,
and the Honolulu Zoo. With Peggy Macnamara, she is the author of
the Watson-Guptill book Painting Wildlife in Watercolor, and has
taught various aspects of natural history illustration at the Morton
Arboretum, the Art Institute of Chicago, and at workshops for the
Guild of Natural Science Illustrators.