Blake Lenoir (b. 1984) creates highly detailed and accurate colored-pencil drawings of natural landscapes and animals. Specializing in depictions of entire ecosystems, with as many plant and animal species as he can fit onto a sheet of paper, his animal kingdoms are peaceful places where all coexist harmoniously. Several of his images have been used in national and local marketing campaigns, and one of his illustrations provided the cover for Temple Grandin, My Life in Pictures: A Coloring Book for Children about Autism (a companion to the HBO original film about the autistic author, activist, and engineer). Lenoir focuses his research by area or country for months at a time before beginning a new series of works, though his recurring areas of interest are the Middle East, African nations, and – his own backyard – the Calumet Region of northwest Illinois.
Lenoir’s life and work, including his award-winning gardening, have been profiled on WTTW’s “Chicago Tonight,” among many other media outlets. In addition to his artistic talents, he is a passionate advocate for people with autism and environmental causes. He is very active in Special Olympics, and a long-time member of the Sierra Club - advocating alongside many Chicagoans to shut down air- and soil-polluting coal plants in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood. Lenoir hopes that his images will not only delight the viewer but also encourage them to learn more about the regions he depicts. He joined Project Onward in 2004 and lives in the South Chicago neighborhood.