While I was training to be a teacher, I had to wait for my next placement for a few months. I had always enjoyed drawing when I was younger but not picked up a pencil in years… so I started sketching birds. I gave away a few drawings to friends and family and everyone seemed delighted with their gifts. When a friend in Australia emailed me a photo of her new Australian Shepherd puppy, I decided to try and draw her. I was fairly pleased with myself and gave the portrait to my friend. She loved it so much she said: why not do this professionally?? I did finish teacher training but the rest is, as they say, history.
As a horse person all my life, I particularly enjoy being able to draw different horse breeds, from the tiny Shetland pony to the huge Shire horse, and close-up head studies as well as fully body portraits. I am so familiar with a horse’s anatomy that I’m never scared of drawing the legs (probably the trickiest part of a horse’s body to draw) and I will see immediately if the proportions are off. I am also familiar with the tack so I enjoy all horse portraits I get to paint or draw, in pastels or charcoal.
Most of the commissioned portraits I do are of dogs. I love dogs and it’s great fun painting a variety of breeds, big and small – from Chihuahuas to St Bernhard dogs, with short, smooth fur like Labradors (a very popular breed) or a long coat like Springer Spaniels. I have posted dog portraits to satisfied customers around the world.
While not as many customers seem to commission portraits of their cats, I have been getting more and more cat art commissions, which is great. Some are of ‘normal’ moggies, others of pedigree cats such as Thai or Maine Coon cats. They’re all beautiful, especially their colourful and unique eyes!
Being a pet portrait artist is very rewarding, portraits of their furry and feathery friends make people happy. Animal art brings joy to my customers and to me; I love creating unique portraits, honouring the pet and showing their individual beauty. I also paint wildlife – which takes us back to the birds. I still love drawing them, and I have also become a birder and bird photographer.
My favourite hobby is going out with my camera, watching and appreciating our native birds and taking photos of them. I show my photos on my bird photography website and have had several photos published.