Memorable drawing classes with real animals, inspiring a closer connection and a compassion for the natural world.
Everyone is welcome. The classes are relaxed and friendly, and always begin with handy hints on how to draw animals from life with creative guidance available to anyone that needs it. No prior experience is necessary!
We draw on city farms, at aquariums and in nature reserves, as well as working with carefully selected animal handlers, sanctuaries and charities to sketch animals in lovely locations such as the Natural History Museum, Ace Hotel and the Royal Academy of Arts. Most of the workshops take place in and around London, but we will be venturing further afield in 2020.
We are kindly supported by Great Art UK who provide a wide range of environmentally friendly materials for you to experiment with at the classes. For more information please see our FAQs.
Goat at Vauxhall City Farm.
We draw animals of all shapes, sizes and species – including owls, reptiles, donkeys, parrots, wolf dogs and alpacas! Our animal experts are full of 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.
The drawing classes simply could not go ahead if the animals did not display confident and relaxed behaviours, and in fact many of the animals use the time as an opportunity to have a little snooze! The animals all travel in style and comfort (think heat packs, air con and specially designed travel boxes) and – where applicable – are given enrichment activities that mimic their natural behaviour in the wild to ensure the workshops are a positive and rewarding experience for them.
Although things are slowly improving, keeping animals in the UK is a relatively unregulated industry. Wild Life Drawing has worked hard to build relationships with a small, very carefully selected group of handlers, sanctuaries and organisations that have the best interests of their animals and ethical practices at the heart of what they do. Many of the animals we draw are rescued or rehomed unwanted pets, and each handler does their bit for the animals in their field – whether that’s offering educational or therapy sessions, campaigning or utilising their knowledge to save the lives of wild animals. We also host drawing classes in collaboration with some of London’s most reputable charitable city farms, wetlands centres, aquariums and royal parks to encourage more people to visit the animals that already reside there.
The majority of public Wild Life Drawing classes include a charity donation within the ticket price – any where from 10% to two thirds of the total price. We aim to champion the smaller charities that don’t get widespread recognition, like the Bumblebee Conservation Trust, Wolf Watch UK, Farms not Factories, the South Essex Wildlife Hospital, the Galapagos Conservation Trust and the British Hen Welfare Trust – to name but a few! Last year 10% of our total annual profits were donated to charity and we will aim to match or better this percentage year on year.
Since Wild Life Drawing begun in 2014, we have witnessed first hand the positive effect it has on people. Being creative and spending time around animals are both proven stress-relievers and combined together they become a powerful tool indeed.
People have described Wild Life Drawing as relaxing, therapeutic and mesmerising. As your subject matter is moving, it forces you to maintain that level of concentration, observation and connection. Your thoughts are less likely to wander. Creativity and focus quiets the mind, and helps to develop a mindful way of looking at the world. We’ve seen people come just to see the animals, claiming they ‘can only draw stick people’ and watched as they see a distinct improvement in their work in just two short hours.
There are many benefits connected to human-animal interaction – people experience a boost in mood, a sense of relaxation and reduced feelings of stress and loneliness. As we see a move towards more proactive and preemptive attitudes to mental health, the drawing classes are an investment in yourself. A way of caring for your own mental health by breaking from routine, learning and making a contribution to a better world. To this end, we have run a series of successful private drawing workshops for NHS groups, hospices for children and the elderly and charities supporting those suffering from addictions.
Take a look at this BBC film to see what others have gotten out of the classes.
Founder & Director
Wild Life Drawing was founded and is run by Jennie Webber, a London-based artist, award winning children’s book illustrator and lifelong animal lover.
After attaining a BA in Fine Art and an MA in Illustration, Jennie gained experience in events curation at creative network YCN, before taking a leap of faith and setting up Wild Life Drawing in 2014. Since then Jennie has illustrated ‘It Starts with a Seed’ and ’The Coral Kingdom’; two nature-themed books that aim to introduce conservation to children. “I believe that the act of taking time to draw animals evokes a real empathy, as the artist observes all the beautiful details, natural behaviours and the individual personality of the animal. And no matter what age you are, interacting with real animals is always a magical experience! It is my hope that Wild Life Drawing continues to reconnect those living in cities with the wonder of nature through creativity, in the hope that it will encourage more people to protect our planet and it’s animals.”
Tutor & Class Facilitator
Emily Lines is an artist from East London. Drawing inspiration from nature, she makes illustrations, collages and prints.
She has created work for clients such as Matches Fashion, and has recently begun working with stop motion animation, turning her collages into short films and music videos.
Emily attended Central Saint Martins, where she studied Performance Design and Practice. It was during her degree that she developed an interest in running creative workshops for young people, starting with a collaboration with English Pocket Opera Company. Since then she has continued working with children, both as a teaching assistant and designing and running artistic youth projects.
Emily took on the role of Head of Education at Wild Life Drawing in 2018, and now oversees all the drawing classes for schools, colleges and universities. She develops and adapts the drawing classes to suit different ages, abilities and caters to those with special educational needs.
Head of Partnerships
George works in team bookings and is a pioneering social entrepreneur with a vision to bring about better health and wellbeing at work.
With a focus on proactive and preventative mental wellbeing, George has carried out extensive research and consultation, working with businesses big and small, and employees at all levels, to deliver unique wellbeing tools and workshops. Previously, George has worked on the front line of wellbeing at work programmes for the likes of Disney, ITV, Richemont and The AA, and is passionate about transforming employee perceptions around mental health. George is a trained Mental Health First Aider (MHFA) and an official partner of the Mental Health Foundation. In a bid to support sustainable change, George also collaborates with the University of Stirling’s School of Management, Work and Organisation to lead a PhD research project to identify high impact strategies for positive employee mental health and wellbeing.
Using creativity as our reason to spend time with animals and nature, we are also practicing mindfulness – observing, noticing, connecting and in turn developing compassion for our subject matter. Curiosity is sparked, reigniting a sense of wonder. This is the essence of mindfulness. Looking at the world in a mindful way is something we can all do, but regular practice develops this skill into a rewarding habit. The trick is not just to look and listen but to also tune in to how it makes us feel. Nature is something we all share because we’re a part of it. Humans developed alongside the birds, the mammals, the trees and all other lifeforms. We are nature. It is this sense of belonging, this feeling of being a part of the natural world, that is a powerful tool.
Problem is, a good proportion of humans seem to have lost their connection with nature – we live in cities, travel in cars, work in offices, stare at screens and views often consist of concrete jungles as opposed to lush greenery. Our brains are so constantly on the go – spending much of our time planning, theorising and managing schedules that we’ve become out-of-touch with the physical, sensory experiences that remind us of how we feel. This is dangerous territory for us all, resulting in higher stress levels, depression – all symptoms of nature deficit disorder. This disconnect is nobodies fault, it’s the way our society has developed – but it is worrying and needs to be addressed. People will not fight for nature if it is not important to them, so we need to raise nature’s profile. And that’s what we’ll continue to do with each and every Wild Life Drawing class.
“No one will protect what they don’t care about; and no one will care about what they have never experienced.”
– Sir David Attenborough
How do I book with my gift voucher?
If you have a new gift voucher you can enter that code at the Eventcube payment stage to redeem that class. If you have an old gift voucher (code starting with WLD..) or if you have a voucher from another vendor, please email us to book.
What’s the best way to keep up to date with new workshops?
Join the mailing list, it’s the very best way to be notified about new classes as they get released. Some of them book up very quickly, so do move swiftly if you spot a class you like the look of.
Will you be running drawing classes outside of London soon?
Yes! Our aim for 2020 is to bring Wild Life Drawing to different venues across the UK, so please do get in touch with any special requests or ideas for locations.