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- About the artwork
- About the artist
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This is a pastel portrait of a polar bear taken from a reference photograph. I was drawn to the close framing of the shot as this would allow me to explore in fine detail the many different types of fur around the bear's head, as well as the many hues found within.
The title of this piece reflects the impending but wholly avoidable environmental disaster in the Arctic where the habitat of these magnificent animals is disappearing at an alarming rate.
I am 47 and live near the Thames in the south-east of England with my wife and four children. For the last 18 years I have worked as an instructor in the IT education industry, delivering a wide range of courses to the public and private sectors. I’ve been interested in art all my life and drew and sketched frequently, but it was side lined for many years due to long working hours and raising a young family. As a child I always drew, and I always assumed I would follow a career path into the arts. Indeed, I attended art college for a few years but nothing became of it and I never touched pencil or paper for over 20 years. It was only in late 2016 I began drawing again and now produce and sell original work as well as commissions. I’m not yet a full-time professional artist as I still freelance as an instructor, but I’m devoting more and more time in 2018 to my art and winding down my IT career.
I bought my first set of pastel pencils a couple of years ago after watching some demonstrations by wildlife artist Jason Morgan. If I recall, I was browsing through some videos on YouTube for something or other, and for some reason was drawn to this stunning image of a leopard’s eyes which had appeared out of nowhere in the suggested videos section. I was hooked immediately. My creative passion had been reignited and I bought a tin of pastel pencils the same day. Here was a medium which could render richly detailed, full-colour drawings without the mess of paint or soft pastels, and in a relatively short time span. I learned quickly, and the newer sanded papers made this much easier, as they were far more forgiving, there was no need to apply fixative, and layer upon layer of colour could be added.
I love drawing animals, but it was never my intent to do wildlife and pet art almost exclusively. After I bought my first set of pencils I started following a few artists who specialised in animal art, so it was logical for me to follow suit. But there is so much beauty in the natural world, and so much variety in its colour and texture that it is a constant source of inspiration and I doubt I will ever need to draw anything else.
I like to work in a realistic style and my influences are many and varied, from the Renaissance and Dutch Masters to modern day comic book artists such as Simon Bisley and Alex Ross. Over the years I’ve collected many art and film art books, and I often like to flick through them for ideas or inspiration before (or sometimes even during!) work on a drawing.
One of the best parts of this job is seeing the reaction to a portrait when it is delivered in person, but there have been other highlights. In late 2017, one of my portraits was shortlisted in an online portrait competition, and this success which was partly responsible for motivating my decision to commit more time to my artwork. But perhaps my proudest moment so far was being shortlisted for the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation (DSWF) Wildlife Artist of the Year Competition earlier this year for my pastel drawing ‘You and whose army?’. As well as a vindication of all the hours work and, some would say, the crazy decision to quit a fairly secure and decently paid job in IT, it has raised my awareness of the plight of animals in the wild, and I’m now much more involved in supporting local and international causes.
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