Nathan Cole

Black and white image of an iguana on a tree branch on a black background.

Creeping Iguana

Quill on scratchboard


Exhibiting in the gallery April 1-14

Black and white close up of a bird with a beak and its claw on a black background.

Hidden in the Canopy

Quill on scratchboard


Exhibiting in the gallery April 1-14


Scratchboard is a masonite board, covered in white porcelain, and then painted black with ink. The images are created by using a metal quill to scratch away the black so that the white appears underneath. Texture, depth, and shadow are created by varying the pressure on the quill, the angle it is used, and repetition on the same spot. Each image is built out slowly from a focal point, keeping the proportion in mind the whole time. 

Scratchboard, by its very construction and purpose, is a very fragile medium - you  create by taking away and any missed stroke could ruin what you have created so far. Humanity and its relation to nature are quite similar.  Humans create their society by taking away, cutting down and stripping the resources to create their cities and culture. Their impact on the wildlife and habitats around them is deeply affected by  this process, but also the ongoing effects of the stories told and myths created.

The perception of particular animals due to their place in history can very well determine their livelihood. Creating animal portraits with scratchboard means that the historical  and cultural perceptions can deeply affect how the viewer sees the  animal in front of them. The painstaking process of creating the art is echoed by the careful approach that must be taken  for examining the myths and perceptions of these animals. In this way, I hope that by creating art, I can improve the relationships of humans with  the wildlife surrounding them.


Nathan Cole is a visual artist, photographer, writer, and aspiring naturalist based  in Toronto, Canada. Nathan’s practice is based on the exploration of the natural world both physically and visually. By following the pathways set  out in nature, he hopes to rebuild connections between our natural spaces and our minds. To unlearn the  processes of contemporary society and to overcome his own mental health challenges, he is looking to fully immerse himself in his  surroundings by rewilding his mind and senses. Using photography as both a connective tool for himself and his viewers, he then translates these observational details onto his favored medium of scratchboard.

Through his work and experiences with the animals that he depicts, he is hoping to challenge some of the myths, perceptions, and preconceptions surrounding wildlife. Stories and imagery are incredibly important, and  our understanding and relationship with nature are so often based around them. With the awareness that for some of these species, their very existence is at stake in our current world, Nathan hopes to challenge harmful practices through representation, education, and his own process of rewilding.

Artist Website:


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