Despite my ongoing love of equine art, inevitably I started to develop an interest in painting creatures other than horses. I remember quite clearly the moment this began. I was in my art space in front of the computer, probably drawing, when something out the window caught my attention out of the corner of my eye. I looked up to see a crow apparently harassing a huge reddish-brown bird with a forked tail. I had never seen a bird like it and was impressed by its size. I watched until I could see them no longer, and at the first opportunity I went straight onto Google to find out what I had seen. Of course it turned out I had seen a Red Kite.
I became fixated on finding out more about these birds. The more interested I became, the more often I started to notice them, circling on the outskirts of my town, and I wondered how I had never noticed them before. This inevitably sparked off a general interest in all birds, and I soon purchased a bird guide so I could learn more.
I also started my first bird painting, a large oil of a Red Kite. It took me two years and several revisions before I completed it. In the meantime I began painting and sketching all kinds of birds, as my fascination for them grew. I produced pages of sketches, from photos and from life, and these studies are still ongoing today. Birds are a huge subject, and one I'm sure will keep me busy for the rest of my painting days.
Alongside this, I began to slot in drawings and paintings of other animals. One of the main threads of this is the study of big cats, and I have many more artworks planned on that theme.
Lives: Northamptonshire, England, UK
Like many equine artists, I have drawn horses as long as I can remember. I would turn up at school with drawings so I could show the dinnerladies, and the back pages of most of my workbooks were used to doodle little horses during the boring parts of lessons. There was a field of horses behind the back garden of the house I grew up in, and I can only imagine that is where my fascination stemmed from.
This continued throughout secondary school, where I would spend lunchtimes in the library drawing horses and dogs from pictures in books. I would find a way to shoehorn horses into every art project, I imagine much to my tutor's despair. Despite my obsession with drawing them, I was never much of a "horse person" - I have never owned a horse, and despite having lessons, my riding skills leave a lot to be desired. I was always paired with either the lazy armchair that would wilfully ignore my commands in favour of grass-snatching, or crazy ponies. I decided it would be best to admire horses with my feet firmly on the ground.
After school ended and I began working, inevitably I found I had less time for drawing, and things tailed off. After a couple of years with my paper and pencils tucked away on a shelf, I found that the urge to draw again returned, and happily it has been there ever since!
I had always wanted to be a painter, but I found acrylics difficult to work with, and my first experiment with oils was horrendous and I vowed never to touch the stuff again. However in time the equine paintings I was seeing online inspired me enough to seriously experiment first in acrylics, and then once I felt confident enough, oils. My first proper oil painting of a grey arabian, "Southwind", was a success and still one of my favourites today, four years later. I have never looked back and I now work regularly in oils.
In time I began to break away into experimenting with looser styles of painting, and this is something I am sure I will continue to explore in years to come. However my first love is and always has been realism, and I hope to continue to improve and refine my technique.
A few years ago, I received a portrait commission from a lady in Portugal, of her two dogs. Thanks to the wonders of Facebook, it spiralled from there, and I have been accepting pet portrait commissions since then, and enjoying them immensely. In a short time they became my primary focus, and in 2015 I made the decision to leave my day-job and make art my full-time occupation. I feel incredibly lucky to be able to call myself a professional artist, and I will continue taking on pet portrait commission work for the foreseeable future.
With all this I continue to paint horses as my primary subject. Some days I wonder if I am spreading myself too thinly! I am constantly overflowing with new ideas, and always have several projects on the go at any one time.
But I enjoy it all, and I hope that you do, too.