Patterns in nature drawing | Rye Harbour Nature Reserve

Patterns in nature drawing

Sunday, 26th June 2022

Patterns in nature drawing

By Jennifer Moore

Looking for patterns in birds is essential for my work as an illustrator. I use diagnostic pale or dark patches, such as wing bars, eyestripes, rumps and undersides as these are often the most significant feature on birds when we see them in the distance, or in poor light. Sun shining on feathers (or not) can dramatically change the actual colours we see, so contrast is often a more important marker. I make sure to include these in my artwork for the birdwatching logbooks, and the beauty of illustration over photography is that I can use artistic interpretation to show the colours and definition to best effect, so helping identification.

In field sketching, I use blocks of plumage markings to help ‘map out’ the bird’s body, dividing the overall outline in to shapes to give the drawing a sense of three dimensions. Using photos as a reference is fine, but only ever sketching from photographs gives a rather flat feel to artwork. Drawing in the field allows for one’s own individual style to develop, as it’s the movement and communication between brain and hand which makes someone’s artwork ‘belong’ to them.

Mark-making on paper is something anyone can do, and requires little by way of expensive materials. Doodling and drawing birds, flowers, butterflies, landscapes adds a great deal of value to a walk or experience in a way that videos simply can’t capture. Starting a journey in drawing really can be an eye opening pastime, and drawing what you see cements memories in a wholly personal way.

Jennifer Moore is a naturalist and artist based in East Sussex, and is the author and illustrator of the birdwatching logbooks on sale at the Discovery Centre. She also runs workshops and art classes in London and Sussex including a Field Sketching workshop at Rye Harbour Nature Reserve. 

This post is also available on Sussex Wildlife Trust website

Sign up for your newsletter

Keep up to date with the latest developments.

We use cookies to collect and analyse information on site performance and usage, to improve your browsing experience and show personalised content. You are free to manage this via your browser settings at any time. To learn more about how we use the cookies, please see our cookies policy.