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Mapping Nature: How the natural world inspires my art

Updated: Apr 2

One of my biggest inspirations for my art is the natural world; it makes its appearance in almost everything I do. For this post I'm chatting about how it becomes an integral part of my work.



There's no doubt about it, if you look at my work, nature will probably spring out at you from every corner. From the animals and topography featured in my maps, to the outright drawings of animals on my cards, letter sets and posters. It is everywhere. But how exactly does it inform my art?

A poster in a white frame featuring lots of black and white animals, with their names written below
One of my new posters featuring a series of animal drawings


The ever-changing seasons offer a dynamic and cyclical source of inspiration for artists. Each season brings a unique set of colours, moods and atmospheres, influencing the emotional tone of an artist's work. Whether it's the vibrant blooms of spring, the warm and golden hues of autumn, or the stark beauty of winter landscapes, the changing seasons provide an array of palettes and moods from which to draw inspiration.

Illustrating the story and folklore behind halloween, a black cat walks across a path of leaves. Ghosts and a creepy turnip litter the path.
My drawing for Halloween, which uses the palette of autumn

For example, I wanted the drawing above to represent halloween, so I used autumn's palette, with lots of rich reds, browns, yellows, greens and oranges against a stormy grey.

In the image below, I wanted spring: a happy baby pygmy goat jumps, carefree into the air, trailing a cape of leaves and flowers. The colours are happy, upbeat, vibrant; the palette of spring.

A happy pygmy goat trails a cape of leaves and flowers as he jumps into the air
An illustration inspired by Spring

On my iPad, I actually created palettes for all four of the seasons we experience here in the UK, using Karen Haller's Little Book of Colour as a reference. When I want a piece to feel like Spring, I use the Spring palette and so on.

A swift flies through the sky, surrounded by leaves and the words 'Our summer's still, all to come' from a poem by Ted Hughes
My swift piece inspired by Summer

One of the best tips I have as well, is that you should consider how you want a piece to feel before you create it (this goes for maps too). Do you want it romantic and whimsical? Or dark and mysterious? Nature's palette can help you out with this.


The world's flora and fauna present an endless array of shapes, sizes, and forms that can serve as endless inspiration.

A pencil drawing of a very old apple tree. It has a very detailed canopy, with all the individual leaves drawn in
My drawing of one of the trees at Standen House

From the graceful silhouette of a soaring bird to the intricate patterns on the wings of a butterfly, nature's design is a masterclass in aesthetic diversity. I have found myself drawn to the meticulous details in the structure of plants, the graceful movements of animals, and the vibrant hues of flowers.

A drawing of clover and clover leaves, which is drawn in blue and is all on different levels. It rests on paper cut into a vase shape
One of my latest pieces: clover on a vase

By closely observing the intricacies of the natural world, artists can infuse their work with a sense of life, movement, and organic beauty, creating pieces that resonate with viewers.


Exploring the vast array of ecosystems around the world can be a wonderful wellspring of inspiration for maps in particular. The diverse landscapes, ranging from lush rainforests to arid deserts, offer a rich palette of colours, textures, and crucially for maps: patterns.

A hand drawn map of Oman, with a small window showing how it fits into the rest of the middle east
My map of Oman for Ranulph Fiennes' book Climb Your Mountain

In the map above, I've used the patterns of the waves in the sea, and a lined, dotty pattern for the desert in the empty quarter, like sand blown in the wind.


In my work then, the inspiration of nature comes out in many forms: in colours and mood, in shape and form, and in pattern. It is woven into everything I do. How do you bring nature into your work?

In my monthly newsletter, I often talk about nature and offer book recommendations, snippets of natural news and research, and progress on my latest nature inspired drawings. If you'd like to sign up, click here :).

If you'd like to read about how I carry my love of nature through to my sustainability practices, and get tips for doing so yourself, try:

As always, thanks for reading!


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