Rainforest Experiences
How to: get creative with rainforest & wildlife art

With its endless patterns, colours and creatures, the rainforest is an incredibly inspiring place to get creative. Our artistic Peruvian intern, Jessica, shares her top tips for any blank canvas carrying creatives who want to join us in the jungle...


When I first found out that I was going for a jungle trip to the Amazon Rainforest for three months I was delighted, not for all the awesome experiences that I will be having (I was also excited for this, don’t get me wrong) but for all the things that I will get to draw.


Image © Eilidh Munro


We all engage with art every day, especially in cities where, everywhere we look, we see images and patterns such as on clothing, advertisements or packaging. But here in the jungle it is different; you don’t get to see it, you get to do it!


There’s so much to see when you arrive to the jungle: the animals, plants, landscapes, even the camp;!Everything is a new thing for you to draw.


Drawing is a powerful tool for our imagination, but also for learning. It opens our eyes to the world that surround us. I have tested this, and I’m confident to say that it is true. When you draw something, you learn to watch all its details; details you sometimes miss when you only look.


Image © Eilidh Munro


But for those of you looking to get creative in the jungle, it’s not quite as simple as it may seem. So here are a few useful tips:


1. Bring the gear as well as the ideas


A good start is to make sure you pack all the art supplies you will want to use, which depends on the technique you want to do.


If you like using watercolour, I’d recommend bringing the pallet and not watercolour pencils. The rainforest is extremely humid which can make pencils moist and fragile.


There’s also no such thing as ‘too many pencils’ - it’s really easy to lose them here (I can’t tell you the number I have ‘misplaced’ so far!).


2. Be patient (or carry a camera)


Second, you need to be very patient, because, unless you are only drawing landscapes or plants (which are easier because they stay still) the jungle wildlife can be more difficult to capture, either because it is so high in the canopy or because it passes by so quickly.


For this reason, I find it’s much better to carry a camera in your backpack. You never know what animals will pass your way the day you go out to explore the jungle, which is something I learned the hard way after missing the opportunity to get a good picture of howler monkeys!


3. Contain your excitement... or bring a sharpener


The excitement of drawing can make the tip of a pencil break. So bring a sharpener! It’s amazing the things you forget when you can’t just pop to the local shop and pick it up.


4. Put in the time (I promise it’s worth it)


As a Pasantia (Peruvian intern) at the Manu Learning Centre I have a busy schedule. Nevertheless, I always try to find time to do some drawings. Some of these are finished, some are still on pencil, not yet coloured, and others are still ideas in my head, waiting to be put on paper.


I’ve been collecting all of these pictures in my camera every day that I have been out on surveys, and after a month and a half I can say that I have tonnes of material to catch up on! But no matter how busy my remaining time here will be, I’m going to make sure I appreciate the details of the things I have seen, and the best way for me to do that is by drawing them.


So I encourage anyone who is reading this, wherever you are, to take time to look at the natural world surrounding you, just waiting to be explored - and draw!