Endangered Wildlife Colour Biro Drawing Workshop
Thought Foundation
21 July 2019


This workshop was delivered as part of Jane's environmental art project and exhibition Where Did All the Animals Go? at Thought Foundation featuring fifty A2 colour Biro drawings of endangered species, created by school children from across the North East. Jane gave attendees the opportunity to create portraits of species featured in the exhibition, using colour Biros. In her presentation, she discussed a newly discovered species the Coastal Peacock Spider in order to highlight that there are still new species waiting to be discovered!

Text from the presentation:

Species information BUGLIFE.ORG.UK 


Peacock spiders are jumping spiders known for their elaborate colours and courtship dance. There are 44 species in the genus Maratus.  Most are about 5 mm long. All but one of the peacock spiders live in Australia, usually in dry scrubby habitats. The one overseas relative lives in China. The intricate blue, red, yellow, purple, orange and black pattern on the tail of each species is unique and so is the choreography of each species’ dance. 

The first peacock spider was described by British arachnologist Octavius Pickard-Cambridge in 1874, but their enchanting dances and displays have only been widely appreciated very recently indeed. While the dancing of one Maratus species had been noted, this was not widely known and dancing had not been seen, or even apparently suspected, in any of the other species. In 2011 naturalist Jürgen Otto changed all this when he filmed and released an amazing video of the dancing courtship of one species, Maratus volans.   

When first described people believed that this spider used the flaps on the side of the abdomen to glide through the air, this idea persisted despite this and other species of peacock spider being quite common in suburban cities. Since 2011 the profile and study of peacock spiders has taken off, 16 new species being described, each beautiful and unique, with Jürgen Otto involved in many of the discoveries.   

Dancing peacock spiders with their eye for beauty are able to charm many people who are otherwise afraid of spiders, and the story of Jürgen’s unveiling of the behaviour of these little spiders is an inspiration to all naturalists. 

In 2017 five more species of peacock spiders were discovered in Australia by Jurgen Otto.  


“There is not a lot of data on peacock spiders distribution and it is only in the last few years that they have received attention. There is the possibility that some may indeed be restricted to a small area and if that is the case they would be quite vulnerable to any changes in their environment, including fire.  I suspect that many species have already been wiped out and what we are seeing now may be the tip of a large iceberg.” Jurgen Otto website peacockspider.org 

Species studied in this workshop included:

Coastal Peacock Spider
Southern Cassowary
Malay Tapir
Wrinkled Hornbill
Golden Snub-Nosed Monkey
Tasmanian Devil
Malayan Tiger


American Dream 2014 colour Biro drawing (detail) Jane Lee McCracken



Owen aged 10 was initially nervous about drawing in Biro, but overcame his nerves to produce this wonderfully colourful and well-observed drawing of a Wrinkled Hornbill. Dawn Hunter created a boldly stylistic drawing of a Malayan tiger with brilliant green eyes. Catherine beautifully plotted out her work in progress of Golden Snub-nosed Monkeys. Brothers Caleb and Jude whose mark-making is gorgeously expressive created sensitive depictions of orangutans.


Wrinkled Hornbill 2019 colour Biro drawing Owen age 10


Malayan Tiger 2019 colour Biro drawing Dawn Hunter


Malay Tapir 2019 Biro drawing Jude age 7


Malay Tapir 2019 Biro drawing Caleb age 9


Golden Snub-nosed Monkeys 2019 colour Biro drawing work in progress Catherine


Orangutan 2019 colour Biro drawing Jude age 7


Orangutan 2019 colour Biro drawing Caleb age 9