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Sunday, 10 January 2016





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Anya's passion:

Wild and wonderful

Leopard cat, Aditi

Drawing is almost second nature to Anya Ratnayake. She cannot remember a time not putting pencil to paper and creating an image. Her earliest memories are drawing Noddy and his pals from Enid Blyton's all time children's favourite. Later she progressed to characters from Japanese Anime and from there onwards the art just evolved bringing her to what she draws today - animals, especially felines, in ink and dots, capturing their ferocious splendour.

Anya Ratnayake

Describing her foray into the feline world, Anya says landscapes never truly interested her. And drawing people... "Well let's just say when I tried to draw people they never turned out to look like people! I draw animals." This, she says is probably because wildlife is what she is about in a way, and it is also probably because she can relate more to animals than she does to people.

She began working with small wild cats in 2012, after seeing her first fishing cat. "I became fixated on drawing them," she says, adding that she wanted to master their form and proportions, so that they looked alive.

"Another thing is that not many people know there are other cats outside the realm of the eight species of big cats, so I wanted to try and raise awareness for the 32 species of small cats through my art," she says.

Anya uses Rotring Isograph Technical Pens and black Indian Ink because they are fine enough to get the kind of detail she wants. But she has also started to dabble with graphite pencils again.

The technique she uses to draw is called stippling, which involves using thousands of dots to create texture and depth. It involves a lot of attention to detail, which is probably why she was drawn to this form of art.

She likens her current technique where she just dots away, to a form of meditation. "I can just zone out and draw for hours, with a bit of music in the background. I also draw only when I am in the mood, and sometimes I won't touch a pen for months" she says.

Sand cat, Sagirah


Animals have been Anya's passion since she was very young, and her exposure to them shaped her in many ways when growing up. As with her art, this passion is also evident in her choice of careers, for after graduating from the University of Queensland with a BAppSc in Wildlife Conservation and Management, she became a wildlife conservationist, focusing on small wild cats.

Anya currently works at the Environmental Foundation (Guarantee) Limited, where she is conducting a research project on the conservation of urban fishing cats (, focusing on understanding their behaviour and ecology.

Pretty much a home bird who enjoys spending time with her four dogs, reading and playing Star Wars Battlefront with her husband, Anya says she got a lot of encouragement from her immediate family in her chosen field of art, and amazing guidance from an aunt who showed her how to draw her first realistic bird. Later Nadine David helped her hone her skills.


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