About me

Paul Veenvliet

Animal and plant illustrator

I am passionate about nature, and, through my illustrations, I like to share this passion. I also like to contribute to the conservation of nature, by explaining what goes on in the world around me.  

Paul Veenvliet, animal and plant illustrator
Paul Veenvliet

To me, identifying species of animals and plants is the most basic and necessary step to understanding nature. Often, human activities do not mean that there are fewer individual plants or animals, but that there are fewer or different species of plants or animals in a certain place. We rapidly lose part of the wonderful diversity in our world. Without the ability to identify species, this is difficult to notice. 

This is why much of my work centers around the identification of plant and animal species, in identification keys, in books, and also in my work as a nature guide. I hope that, when I do my work well, my illustrations are also aesthetically attractive and invite you to go outside and observe animals and plants in nature 🙂 

Many black and white drawings of animals.

A life-long passion for nature

I grew up in the Netherlands, so I am Dutch. So much so, that my great grandfather even owned a Dutch windmill. That was long before I was born, so I only know it because my mother told me, and because I made a drawing of the mill for her, using a vintage photograph as a reference. The windmill burned down long ago and has never been rebuilt.

In fact, the Netherlands have changed fast and many things from the past are no longer there. Nature, for instance, is very impoverished, and its place has been taken by highly efficient agriculture, roads and cities. In this altered landscape, I used to catch small fish in straight ditches, and grasshoppers on the dykes which keep the seawater from flooding the land. 

They say that, only when something becomes rare, you realize how precious it is. This is especially true for nature in the Netherlands. Dutch try very hard to preserve anything wild which they have left. And, in the middle of a population boom, a pandemic, and global warming, I remain amazed at how much nature is left in the world.

I now live in Slovenia, where I daily see the animals and plants which I read about when I was small. 

A blue drawing of a Dutch windmill

Dutch windmill “de Vriendschap” in the town Hoogland. This mill was owned by my great-grandfather. 

A childhood drawing of many grasshoppers, showing colour variations.

Grasshoppers, drawn when I was 6 or 7 years old. At the time, I didn’t realize that I was looking at several species, but I clearly knew the variation in colours!

a childhood drawings of three-spined sticklebacks, small fish which are common in the Netherlands

Fond memories: a childhood drawing of Three-spined sticklebacks, a common species which I used to catch as a small boy. 

Passion never goes with Pension

Who am I?
A simple question without simple answers. Peter de Kuster challenged me to tell about myself in an online interview, which you can find on his website (in Dutch language), see his website: Passie Pensioneert Nooit.

My other work

Whatever I do is always connected with animals and nature. Besides drawing, I am a professional nature tour guide in Slovenia. I enjoy taking small groups – which can be as small as one person – to see special species of animals and plants. In my tours, the complete experience matters including beautiful landscapes, tasty, local food, and good company. 

I have a university background and am a biologist, specializing in animal ecology and herpetology (the study of amphibians and reptiles). Besides nature, I am interested in animal husbandry: the keeping of animals in captivity. I have animals at home (dog, cats, reptiles, aquarium) and have been working as an animal keeper in various zoos.

I feel that, when done well, keeping animals can lead to a greater understanding of their behaviour and needs. This understanding can, in turn, benefit the conservation of endangered species. However, I am the first to admit that there is always room for improvement and some animal species have requirements that can hardly be met ex-situ (outside of their natural environment).