Inspired by: Pokemon

Pokemon appeared on telly when I was about 10 and the cards were banned from my school due the frenzy they stirred to collect them all. Now they are back, and how.

I think they are successful because all those cute little creatures taps into that curiosity of what lives in the wilderness, but unlike bird watching or looking at bugs, pokemon is branded cool. It’s cool in part because the illustrations are crisp, bright and memorable.


Very different from the gentle, detailed illustrations in my bird books , but this style has also influenced me. Not just Pokemon but various animations from Cartoon saloon “The secret of Kells” to My little Pony. Not to mention Ghibli and anime.

The more I draw animals the more I see abstract shapes and subtle colours in things. They are a guide to draw them and also clues to how they live.

“It’s not what a horse looks like, but it’s what a horse is.” Those words have echoed in my brain ever since I read them in a Terry Pratchett book.  It’s how a wise witch describes a chalk horse. It gets me thinking how shapes can make us see an animal?

Uffington white horse

Right now I’m furiously painting all sorts of crazy creatures  (will update you on this soon I promise!) but when I have 10 minutes I whipped up some rough pokemon.

poke 3
Bulbasaur, Pidgey and Ratata. c Ceri Mair Thomas

I learnt to draw through copying and I can still learn a lot from the work of others.

The colours really are mesmerising. I avoided doing carbon copies, and tried blending in my own style. I also experimented with outlining in a colour that wasn’t black for a change. I like it but I definitely need a new brush! Or at least stop being so messy  ( I am so messy!)

Scyther c Ceri Mair Thomas 2016

Speak soon,


Inspired by: John Busby

I went to art school with a mission: to become a wildlife artist.  After the first few projects my tutor gave a big sigh and said “Ceri, could you try to draw something that is not a bird?” Luckily the principle was a bit more understanding of my obsession and asked if I would like to meet a professional wildlife artist called John Busby.  I am terrible at remembering names but that name rang bells. In fact I was pouring over his book and enchanted not just by his illustrations but the way he wrote about them to.

He was a lovely man and I think I could have watched the birds coming to the feeder with him for a long long time.  John passed away last year, his family recently set up a website documenting his work.

Here are some of his sketches that have inspired me.

He captured the movement and life of birds. Anybody who has attempted to draw birds from life have that crushing your pencil into ash as the pesky things dart about. You need to be quick, confident, or at least owning of your mistakes which I think is the first step!

To have a career in drawing what you love John Busby shows that is is down to dedication, a lifelong curiosity and never stop.