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chimpanzee close up    Andrew Howells

Over the past 20 years Andrew has taken his passion for nature and drawing into areas such as animation and graphic design, and more recently he has shared his extraordinary skills with students as a lecturer and now convenor in Natural History Illustration at the University of Newcastle. His artworks, often seamlessly combining traditional techniques and digital wizardry, depict the beauty and intricate detail of his subjects, and he is a big believer in the importance of not only studying animals’ physical attributes, but also their behaviour and personality. Andrew regularly shares his work on Instagram: @andrewhowellsartist


cicada close up     Bernadette Drabsch

Bernadette is an internationally acclaimed researcher and natural history illustrator who has combined her passion for ancient history with her love of drawing. After completing a BA in Ancient History and Classical Languages and receiving the University Medal, Bernadette undertook an honours project involving a trip to Pella in Jordan to work as an archaeological illustrator. This inspired her PhD research on the 6000-year-old wall paintings of Teleilat Ghassul and subsequent research trips to Jordan. The respected lecturer has authored a book, journal articles and conference papers on ancient Near Eastern art.  She is a regular speaker at archaeology conferences and her current research focuses on cultural heritage mapping and Australian aboriginal rock art. Bernadette believes that visual thinking, based on careful observations and drawing, is an important and overlooked tool for gaining new knowledge.  


two clown fish    Daniel Atkins

With a double degree in science and teaching, and exceptional artistic skill, Daniel thrives on the exchange of knowledge between creative and scientific disciplines to resolve complex problems. His PhD research, for example, involved designing, creating and applying an articulating bird model for illustration practice, and he is currently writing a chapter for a publication with the Natural History Illustration Research Group titled Building a Bird Twice: Using an articulating bird model to understand and interpret flight manoeuvres in developmental drawings and finished illustrations of bird flight. Daniel’s art practice incorporates acrylic, watercolour, graphite and digital rendering.


close up of peregrine    Prue Sailer

Prue skilfully captures nature’s beauty and quirks through a range of media but she favours oils because of their versatility and the way they allow her to “faithfully represent the vibrant colours, textures and effects of light”. Characterising much of Prue’s work is the fusion of science and art. Her PhD research, entitled Wild Visions: An Artistic Investigation into Animal Vision, explores the science of animal vision, covering the optical capabilities and limitations of seven animal and bird species. Prue is a lecturer in Natural History Illustration and her ongoing teaching and research interests include: practice-based research; illustration techniques; drawing as inquiry; fieldwork methodology; art-science integration and collaboration; illustration as a method of communication; wildlife conservation; and bird vision. Prue shares her work on Instagram: @sailer_studio 


drawing of maternal spiral artery     Lee Dedman

Lee, who won the 2015 Australian Geographic Natural History Illustration Award, has turned her extraordinary skills to the niche of medical illustration. Her honours project involved working with the Hunter Medical Research Institute to depict the development of the human placenta. Lee, who also lectures in Natural History Illustration, believes well-researched, skilfully rendered works play a vital role in scientific understanding and offer something that photographs simply cannot. “Illustration will give you a more precise rendering. They’re also more archival than photographs – they can be stored for thousands of years without losing clarity.”

two birds on branch    Gina Cranson

After a 25-year career in newspaper journalism, Gina enrolled in the Natural History Illustration degree at the University of Newcastle in 2013. There she found that the eye for detail and need to get things right that had served her so well in journalism would form the foundation for her new studies. "While people believe artists are born with a gift -- and certainly that is true for many -- you can be taught to draw if you commit to the process," says Gina, who works mainly in watercolour and graphite. Gina has since produced three identification posters and illustrations for two books on native bees, with more to come. “The most satisfying aspect of my practice is working closely with experts in the field. I will be forever indebted to Dr Michael Batley at the Australian Museum, for example, for the hours he spends helping me to be as accurate and as faithful to the subjects as I can.”


drawing of flower    Tanya Hoolihan

Tanya’s keen understanding of nature is evident in her inspired works, which not only convey meticulous detail but also capture the true spirit of her subjects. Working mainly in watercolor, Tanya aims to visually interpret the environment in which she lives. Botany is Tanya’s preferred subject matter and her goal is to communicate a story through her work. This could be as simple as depicting all stages of a plant’s development. Tanya, who also lectures in Natural History Illustration, diligently researches her chosen subjects to ensure her works are scientifically accurate as well as aesthetically charming.


drawing of owl    Linda Lunnon

Linda, who has been working in the field of environmental science for the past 16 years, has always loved to draw nature. Studying Natural History Illustration part-time while working as an environmental advisor fulfilled Linda’s lifelong dream to receive formal training as a wildlife and botanical artist. She enjoys drawing, as well as painting in acrylic and watercolour, however she found a new passion when she was introduced to scratchboard. “For me, scratchboard lends such a dramatic effect to even the most common subject.” Linda says regardless of what medium she is working in, she feels it is a successful artwork if she has captured the character of her subject. Linda hopes to have a website up and running soon.

drawing of a flower    Deirdre Bean

An internationally acclaimed botanical artist, Deirdre has paintings in public collections at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, London, the Hunt Institute of Botanical Documentation, Pittsburgh, USA, and in the Florilegium collection at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney. In 2013, Deirdre was commissioned by Australia Post to paint the unique flowering shrubs of Christmas Island. Among the many prizes Deirdre has collected for her exquisite work are a gold medal at the Royal Horticultural Society in London for her series of eight Syzygium species in 2006 and silver-gilt medals in 2012 and 2015 for her Australian mangroves, which are the focus of her PhD research.


drawing of shells    Stephanie Holm

Stephanie often combines her talents as a writer and illustrator on projects that explore her connection with nature. The Great Lakes Artist of the Year’s Wildscapes: An Australian Art Therapy Colouring Book was published by Murdoch Books in 2015. As the recipient of the State Library Victoria’s Children’s Literature Fellowship, Stephanie is producing a graphic novel that looks at Australian fauna and flora in early Australian children’s book publishing. Stephanie loves to work in “the humble graphite pencil” and watercolour and looks forward to experimenting with other media as her art practice evolves.


orchid study close up    Samantha Bayly

Having grown up with a passion for insects and animals, 20-year-old Samantha’s fascination for them intensified when she began to draw them in her high school years. Inspired by the likes of William T. Cooper and Bernard Durin, Samantha enrolled in NHI at the University of Newcastle and is about to complete her second year. Medical and botanical illustration have become areas of particular interest and skill. She loves working in watercolour and graphite and also enjoys the stippling technique. “Meeting other likeminded people who share my love of the natural world and art is the most exciting aspect for me,” she enthuses about her studies. Samantha regularly shares her work on Instagram: @samibayly  


You can see Sami in action in an episode from the UON Alumni Insight Series here:

close up of seahorse    Kathirine Sentas

Kathirine enjoys combining her digital illustration and graphic design skills with her drawing and painting talents to produce, among other things, educational resources for children and adults. Kathirine, who is a member of Illustrators Australia and Wildlife and Botanical Artists Inc., travelled to the Middle East in 2015 to work as an illustrator on an archaeological dig. Her honours research, undertaken in 2016, involves developing illustrated educational resources to promote the conservation of a vulnerable marine habitat. “Creating illustrations based on thorough investigation and observation of the natural world can produce imagery that is not only beautiful, but can also inform as well as reveal,” she says.