Natural History Art — Experiments in Media

Here are some natural history illustrations I’ve done over the last few years. In the beginning, I hadn’t found a medium that I was completely satisfied with. It’s a constant ‘grass is greener on the other side’ scenario. I’d spend a dozen hours doing a drawing using pens, such as this one:

Or this one:

And then I’d think, “drawings look much more appealing when they’re in colour”, so I’d try coloured pencils, such as with this wall skink:

Then I remember that my coloured pencil drawings often turn out looking like kids’ artworks.

This brush turkey was an attempt to use coloured pencils with paint, but at the time, I didn’t know how to prepare regular paper for watercolour. In the end, the paper got painted through (torn) and warped from all of the water.

After all of the trialling and erroring, I’ve arrived at some favoured media. I do like pens. And gouache is great. Oil painting is rewarding but extremely time consuming (takes a few days to dry after each sitting). The newest frontier is digital on my iPad – there’s a lot to learn there.

I have almost finished my latest painting Changyuraptor yangi, which is officially the longest any artwork has taken me. I can barely estimate, but it’s probably taken 60-80 hours so far. I (and my partner) am looking forward to finishing up and cleaning up all of the paint materials at last!