New Ipswich artist illustrates reptile book

  • A ring necked snake illustration by Patterson, featuring the snake’s distinctive yellow ring and colorful belly.  Courtesy image—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

  • Matt Patterson of New Ipswich catches a snapping turtle on a kayak trip.  Courtesy photo—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

  • Matt Patterson’s illustration of a wood turtle, Patterson’s favorite turtle. Courtesy photo—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

Monadncok Ledger-Transcript
Monday, March 06, 2017 10:12PM

Did you know that the Smooth Green Snake turns blue when it dies? And if you come across a snake that appears to stand up and spread its “hood” in the northeast United States, don’t worry – it’s more likely to be the harmless Eastern Hognose Snake than a cobra.

Matt Patterson of New Ipswich is known for his illustrations and artwork featuring wildlife. His most recent illustration work was on “The Snake and the Salamander: Reptiles and Amphibians from Maine to Virginia,” which he worked on in collaboration with the book’s author, Alvin R. Breisch.

“I’m definitely drawn to them,” said Patterson, of reptiles. “I love their textures, their colors. They’re so interesting to look at. And they’re not well represented in wildlife art, that’s for sure. But if you take a closer look, you’ll realize how beautiful a salamander can be.”

Patterson has worked on field guides before – illustrating one of northeastern varieties of freshwater fish – and said that he wanted this book to be a little different. Part art book, part anecdotal field guide, the descriptions focus more on interesting tidbits than an in-depth examination. And the descriptions are grouped by habitat.

“We really wanted people to start thinking of them as wildlife,” said Patterson.

Reptiles such as snakes and amphibians such as salamanders and frogs often unfairly get a reputation for being slimy and scary despite very few poisonous species in the Northeast United States.

“If you read about their life history and their habitats, it starts to make you think of them as part of the wildlife landscape,” said Patterson.

Patterson will be signing his book at the Toadstool Bookshop in Peterborough on April 22 at 11 a.m. His illustrations will also be part of a show at the Harris Center, opening on April 14, which will include both prints and originals for sale. The book is available online through Amazon or at local bookstores.

Ashley Saari can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 244 or asaari@ledgertranscript.com.