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.
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
"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,"
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
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 (fishingcats.lk), 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