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A Natural Selection


Natural history illustration demands high levels of representational accuracy, but while these images are inspired by that beautiful legacy of illustration, they are not bound by the same rigors and precision. They are fiction and non-fiction combined; straddling the line between abstraction and representation.

Some drawings express human, psychological, impression of a creature, e.g. the loathing of a mosquito, some express an essence of say a grasshopper jumping, but others dwell on the sheer pleasure of ‘misrepresentational’ doodling, a delight in colour, pattern, line and shape.

Despite poetic licence, they are all inspired by a wonder in people and nature, their possibilities, variations, evolution and infiniteness, with just the same curiosity that might have motivated Charles Darwin.


Watercolour/gouache and ink are generally the mediums of choice for their simplicity and portability. Involuntary, accidental and counter intuitive marks are hugely important; it’s surprising how difficult it is to make an unintentional mark. The pictures depend on a fleeting chance that is almost impossible to reproduce a second time in any formulaic way. All the frames where recovered from recycle centres and the best attempts have been made to match picture with frame.

About Philip Cartland

Philip lives in Shrewsbury with his wife and two children. His drawings and paintings pursue an interest in nature, the absurd, psychology, beauty, love, poetry ... he's inspired by a long list of influences from Japanese and Chinese ink drawings, Mughal miniatures, western medieval manuscripts, natural history illustrations, and outsider and children’s art.

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