Wild Life Drawing is run by three artists who were drawn together by their love of nature: Jennie Webber, Laura Cuppage and Emily Lines.
The company was set up by Jennie back in 2014, when she was starting out in her career as an illustrator. With a passion for drawing animals, she made a lot of trips to museums to sketch taxidermy specimens. Spending all that time drawing dusty animals behind glass inspired a desire to sketch living breathing animals; to see the way they moved, hear their noises and feel their fur, scales and feathers. This is how the seed that grew to be Wild Life Drawing was planted.
The first ever class was a rather chaotic baby owl drawing class with Paul from Sky Birds of Prey (who is still one of our regular animal experts). The owlets decided that the class was a perfect opportunity to try flying for the first time, which made for many hilarious, magical moments. Jennie knew then that the idea had legs (and wings) and has been running regular classes ever since. We have had the pleasure of collaborating with some plush partners for special events, including the Natural History Museum, the V&A and Green Man festival! Along the way Jennie met George, who helped develop our classes for companies and together we’ve brought our animals to the offices of Disney, National Geographic and IKEA.
The pandemic in 2020 saw Wild Life Drawing adapt to the changing world and develop spirit-lifting creative sessions for a growing online community. This concept developed into our valued online program where we connect with sanctuaries all over the world to draw rescued sloths, wombats, elephants and everything inbetween! These virtual visits combined with our conversations with inspiring scientists and experts in the field provide a unique insight into the frontline of conservation.
Our in-person drawing classes now run up and down the UK, from Edinburgh to Brighton, and our online program spans the whole globe, from the rainforests of Costa Rica to the bays of Iceland. Every single ticket sold raises money for animal charities and with every class, we hope to bring people closer to nature through creativity.
The very first Wild Life Drawing class in 2014.
Jennie sharing her top tips on sketching goats.
A chick checks out her portrait.
We draw animals of all shapes, sizes and species – including owls, lizards, sloths, parrots, wolves and alpacas! Our animal experts are full of fascinating facts, and you’ll be transported to natural habitats across the globe as you learn about how the animals live in the wild.
Everyone is welcome – we cater for all ability levels and the classes are accessible for all ages. Our program includes workshops specifically designed for families, but children over 5 are welcome at most events if accompanied by an adult also taking part in the class.
The welfare and happiness of the animals we draw is our highest priority. We ensure all animals attending the classes are comfortable around humans and in different environments, and they are always accompanied by their expert and dedicated handlers.
We work hard to ensure that our classes are a positive experience for the animals we draw. We have spent years building strong relationships with a select group of animal handlers, each of whom goes the extra mile for their animals. This means we can trust that they only bring along animals that genuinely enjoy being out and about, are confident around people and who like being made a fuss of. Take Deano the iguana for example- this chap absolutely loves being the centre of attention. His handlers Becca and Dan have a small animal sanctuary and take on any abandoned or mistreated reptiles that come their way. Then there’s Alice, the gregarious wolf dog who has a knack for seeking out the person in the room who gives the best ear scratches. Her handler is Natalie, who is currently working on creating her own sanctuary for displaced wolves and rescued wolf dogs.
When it comes to our online classes, we spend a lot of time researching each sanctuary or charity before reaching out to them, to ensure that they are up to scratch.
Since the very beginning, we have donated a portion of our profits to wildlife charities. Our passion is supporting smaller organisations that don’t always see the limelight, to showcase their fantastic work and raise awareness of their causes. We’re proud to support the South Essex Wildlife Hospital, Wolf Watch UK and the Bumblebee Conservation Trust to name but a few! Over the years, with the help of our wonderful community, we have raised over £50,000 for charity.
Being creative and spending time around animals are both proven to be good for our mental health, and when combined the effects can be profound.
At our classes the emphasis is on enjoying the creative process rather than worrying about outcome. Many people come along having not drawn in years, often after being discouraged by a teacher who told them they couldn’t draw. We always tell them the same thing- everyone can draw! We love to see people’s confidence blossom as they begin to draw in the carefree way they did as children, letting go of worries about making mistakes. Having models who are hopping around, sniffing your shoes, and nibbling at drawing boards really takes the pressure off too. Animals have a great way of bringing humour to a space, and their charming antics always keep the mood fun and relaxed.
Take a look at this BBC film to see what others have gotten out of the classes.
Jennie is an artist, award winning children’s book illustrator and lifelong animal lover, with a particular interest in natural curiosities. Jennie is the director at Wild Life Drawing and is currently balancing work with motherhood. Jennie lives with her husband and baby daughter Cleo in Hackney and can mostly be found open water swimming in any available body of water.
Emily is an artist from East London. She works with paint, collage and pottery. Her work is inspired by nature- from the moon and stars to the flowers in her back garden. Emily is our main writer, and researches and plans our classes. She lives on the edge of Epping Forest with her partner, young son and rescue dog Joey.
George is an expert in the translation and application of the science in psychological wellbeing and sustainability. George organises and develops our corporate workshops and has a passion for team building through the wonder of the natural world. He lives in Edinburgh with his young family and enjoys a cold water swim in the Scottish sea.
Laura Cuppage is an artist and wildlife educator who loves inspiring others about the natural world. She mainly works in pencil and watercolour, but also loves to get crafty with textiles. Laura runs the online and in-person classes as well as helping out with research and planning. She lives with her partner in Crouch End and loves visiting her home town of Bournemouth to soak in the sea air.
We encourage open dialogue at our sessions, and our animal experts are always happy to answer questions. This gives our attendants the chance to gain information about issues that concern them, and get practical tips on how they can help. We don’t shy away from big subjects like the realities of the livestock industry, illegal pet trade and poaching, but rather than lecturing we simply help our community to make their own informed decisions.
From peeking underneath stones, to pond-dipping and peering into rockpools, children have a natural talent for noticing. Not taking a quick glance, but stopping to have a really good look. As we get older it’s easy to forget how wonderful the little details of life are, but at our classes we aim to reignite that sense of wonder. Observational drawing is a great way to engage deeply, as it becomes necessary to slow down and zoom in. We encourage our sketchers to spend more time looking than actually drawing, which not only informs their work but forms a link between artist and subject. And the more connected we feel to nature, the more we feel the need to protect it.
“Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better. ”
– Albert Einstein
How do the gift vouchers work?
We sell physical and paperless gift vouchers for both our online and in-person classes. The issued codes can be redeemed for classes by inputting them into the Promo Code box at the payment stage. Vouchers from The Indytute and NOTHS can be redeemed by emailing us with your unique code. Gift vouchers are valid for all classes that we manage the ticket sales for, please check the event description for further details.
What’s the best way to keep up to date with new classes?
You can follow us on Instagram, that’s the very best way to be notified about new classes as they get released. Some events book up very quickly, so do move swiftly if you’re keen. You can also join the mailing list for a bi-monthly round up of what’s coming up and our latest news.
Can the animals come home with me?
Afraid not! But at most classes, we promise there will be opportunities for plenty of strokes, cuddles and belly scratches – where appropriate!