In the Steps of Shaun Tan

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In the Steps of Shaun Tan

In the weeks following the coronavirus pandemic, there was renewed discussion on how animals and nature were improving and regenerating. Shaun Tan, an Australian artist, has been following this complex relationship between animals and humans. The artist has a brilliant perspective on how nature could repay mankind for its destruction of the environment. For instance, in his book ‘Tales from the Inner City,’ there is a fictional story involving wild bears suing humanity for its crimes against nature (Cain paragraph 11). The artist motivates a person to ask or raise more questions concerning our relationship with the environment.

People often forget that nature is not at the mercy of man. Instead, the relationship is inverse. Just as climate change is now demonstrating, I plan to show that nature always wins the battle against civilization. A pencil-based drawing on a textured surface depicting nature consuming an artificial artifact is a good way to convey this message. Drawing effectively communicates technical details in a format most people can relate to. The approach will allow my mind to be creative enough to discern the various scenarios in which nature has demonstrated the fragility of human creations. The drawing will be of relative medium size, around 50 by 35 inches.

The goal of the artwork is to highlight nature is a force to be reckoned with. By showing the immense power of nature, I can inspire the audience to advocate for climate change. For instance, Shaun Tan’s Bluebell drawing depicts two adults on top of a large bird, navigating a large wave. The difference in scaling between the adults and the wave is enough to demonstrate the relative power of nature. I wish to employ an almost similar approach. However, in this case, nature is bigger, focal and unforgiving while overpowering an artificial creation, such as a tower.

The materials required for a drawing are simple to source. I intend to use basic materials to avoid unnecessary expenses or technical disappointment. I will start with graphite pencils of different sizes and grades. Each pencil will offer a different tone or darkness level. I will also need pastel pencils to infuse colour into the drawing. Coloured crayons can also be used as alternatives to the pastel pencils. Erasers will be vital in correcting mistakes. The drawing will be done on a rough, highly textured piece of paper to make nature appear more overpowering. The final requirements are a drawing board and easel. I can choose between an all-purpose board or a sheet of plywood.

I intend to employ a to-do- list to organize all activities associated with the drawing. I will take one day to acquire or compose a subject. With an image in mind, the following day will be used to draw a sketch. The specific way of drawing the subject will be decided on the third day. The process also involves erasing mistakes in the sketch. The fourth and fifth days will be used to add further details to the sketch, including the perfection of lines and shading. Overall, it will take five days to complete the drawing.

Work Cited

Cain, Sain. ‘Shaun Tan: We Are Not Being Mean to Animals, But There is Evil in Obliviousness’. The Guardian, 18 June 2020,, Accessed 17 August 2022.

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