This months Natural History Artist is Piers Hayman. I first heard about him through New Zealand Bird Rescue, a charitable trust of which he was a founding member (then the NZ Wildlife Rehabilitation Trust). Originally from England, and trained as a graphic designer, he emigrated to New Zealand in the early 80’s.
He has done numerous beautiful illustrations of New Zealand Birds, and has written and illustrated numerous books on NZ wildlife- two of the most well-known books being ‘Discovering the Birds of New Zealand‘ and ‘The Bird Next Door’. He was a regular contributor to the New Zealand Herald where he wrote and illustrated a weekly column about birds, a clipping from one of his columns from 1985 is below:
I recently came back from a 5 day trip to Russell (in the Bay of Islands in New Zealand) which was a lot of fun.
Here are some of the sketches I made on the trip! I was aiming to fill the whole sketchbook I made, but ended up with a sketch-a-day…
the campground set in bush that is kiwi and weka habitat- the weka are very curious and like to investigate the tents and pinch food. They were also really fast and difficult to sketch!
The sketchbook I used was a repurposed hard back book that had been withdrawn from the library I work at. I refilled it with my new favourite paper- Lana Dessin drawing paper (which is only $3 for a large sheet- enough to fill this book!). Its great because its 220gsm and you can also use watercolour on it easily.
I brought a small watercolour travel set, my waterbrush and other drawing supplies (pencils+pens)- all kept in a click-clack container to stop them getting water damage etc.
or perhaps I should have called it ‘the mock-up poster’ because this was sort of a quickly put together version of my puriri moth lifecycle for a portfolio submission. I’d like to add to it by doing a fully painted background at some point and adding in text of course.
the tree+backgrounds to the various larval stages are watercolour+coloured pencil, the insects themselves are coloured pencil only.
Its Puriri Moth season again in NZ- I’ve only seen one this year though- much less than last year!
Today I’m posting a painting I finished last week of baby saltwater crocodiles hatching from their nest. It was inspired by a story on the saltwater crocodiles life cycle that I read- and I left the upper corner empty to suggest a space for text in a book spread.
Mediums used: W&N cotman watercolours and Pebeo Gouache (covering white) for highlights.
I tried out splattering the background with watercolour to get a dirt-like effect and after I was done realised that I’d splattered tiny paint drops all over my walls…oops. Lucky it was an easy clean up!
Don’t forget- you have until Monday 5pm (NZ time- Midnight Sunday EST) to enter the skillshare giveaway for 1 months premium membership! There are only 2 entries so far so you’re chances of winning are high if you enter 🙂 The classes are really awesome- lots of new ones have recently been added including Vintage Hand lettering by Mary Kate McDevitt and Drawing Daily Monsters by Stefan G. Bucher- which I am really keen to do. Get your entries in!!
This month I wanted to highlight a beautifully illustrated identification guide to primates. Primates of the World: an illustrated guide by Jean-Jacques Petter and Francois Desbordes was published on 2010 in French, but has just been translated and published by Princeton University Press last year.
The primate illustrations in this guide, by french wildlife artist Francois Desbordes, are absolutely phenomenal- and I recommend checking out this book for them alone. There are 72 realistically rendered watercolour plates, as well as a number of looser watercolour sketches in the introductory section entitles ‘Fascinating Primates’- including a very colourful evolutionary tree diagram.
I have read other reviews that say some of the scientific information is slightly out of date now (that’s how fast species phenology can change) but it is a comprehensive guide of the major primate species of the world, sorted by continent.
What I really liked about Mr Desbordes illustrations is that they not only show the animals morphology but also give some clue to the postures and behaviour of the different species. I couldn’t find much information about the illustrator however it appears he has illustrated a number of books about wildlife in French.
I highly recommend taking a look at this book- its a masterpiece.
blog update: you may have noticed a new link in the right-side bar- best of drawing escape. I’ve made a collection of the most popular posts from the drawing escape archives- you can check them out here!
The project involved illustrating diagrams of the male and female moths, showing the sexual dimorphism (especially obvious in the antennae) as well as dorsal and lateral illustrations of the caterpillar. These illustrations were fun to do because they were the first entomological illustrations I have done in watercolour- and it was fun to add some colour to these pretty little moths!
Here are the final illustrations:
(smaller hairs on the antenna)
(much longer hairs on the antenna)
magpie moth caterpillar
magpie moth caterpillar
Another thing I really enjoyed in this project was reconstructing life-like positioning of the caterpillar (especially in the lateral view). The specimens I had to draw from were dead and so didn’t really look so much like a living caterpillar would anymore- so that was a fun challenge to try and depict what a living caterpillar might look like.
here is also the palette of colours I used. I used Winsor and Newton cotman watercolours and the most used colours were Ultramarine Blue and Burnt sienna to mix up varying shades of brown-black and blue-black. They were the perfect colours for this species!!
All images copyright E. Scheltema 2014. Please respect my client (these illustrations are part of their research) and do not copy or use any of these images without permission. If you are interested in commissioning work or collaborating on a project like this please contact me
Here is another scientific illustration project I am currently working on- illustrations of the NZ Magpie Moth for MSc student Cassandra Marks at the University of Auckland (also from the Holwell lab). I am doing a series of identification-style watercolour illustrations of the male and female moths as well as some views of the caterpillar. Here’s some pics of where I’m up to- also I made a gif of the watercolour process!
And the final- this is the female Magpie Moth:
I used Winsor and Newton Cotman watercolour paints, mixing the black for the wings from Ultramarine and Burnt Sienna, but found I had to pump up the darkness of it by using some pure black for the darkest areas.
Thanks to Cassie for letting me post these in the middle of the project!
This week I thought I would post a new blog post that I am hoping will become an ongoing monthly series, where I will post a review of an awesome illustrated book I have recently come across. As you may know, I work in a library whose collection is slightly tailored toward childrens’ picture books and non fiction, so there are a lot of beautifully illustrated books available for the picking! So, here is the first illustrated picture book of the month post- I hope you enjoy and are able to take a look at some of these books in person.
This book is a junior non-fiction title (aimed at 5-10 year olds) that serves as an introduction to butterflies; describing various facts about butterflies and their lives, under the over-arching theme of metamorphosis (relating back to “patient” in the title). Every spread displays a different facet of a butterflies life, and is started off with ‘A butterfly is …’. One of my favourites spreads is the one that accompanies “A butterfly is not a moth”; it has various butterflies in a daylight composition, along with a variety of wonderfully illustrated moths on the facing page in the night time. The spreads are beautifully illustrated and each turn of the page provides a surprise, as the illustrations and text are quite diverse and the colourful illustrations are lovely.
There are quite a lot of scientific concepts also introduced which I really liked. One of my favourite parts of the book are the endpapers- the front ones have lots of different species of caterpillars, the end ones lots of butterflies, supposedly having metamorphosed through the book’s story.
The illustrations are what initially drew me to this book. According to Sylvia Longs’ website, she illustrates using pen and ink, overlaid with watercolour. Her illustrations in this book are amazing. They are clear, vibrant and sophisticated illustrations that are the perfect style for communicating natural history concepts to kids. I think they are the kind of illustrations that really inspire wonder and interest in the natural world. I also loved the fact that the text is hand-lettered in a copperplate sort of style.
This author-illustrator team have also collaborated on a number of other junior non fiction books in the same vein- including An Egg is Quiet and A Seed is Sleepy, and a brand new title- A Rock is Lively. I would highly highly recommend checking all of these books out- even (or especially) if you aren’t in the kids age group and are interested in natural history and illustration- they are beautifully written and illustrated and I’m hoping they create even more books to add to the series.
Let me know what you think of A Butterfly is Patient if you have read it, in the comments below.