Hi, I'm Dominica pictured here with Olive, my Whippet, and current 'First Friend'.
I feel blessed to have had the privilege of growing up on a farm to the east of Ipswich and to have spent my formative years in a rural environment surrounded by fields, woodland and wide-open spaces. I drew from an early age. Beatrix Potter was my idol and Art was my favourite subject at school.
I have always felt a strong affinity with animals and there have been many in my life but my first love was Pup Dog the Whippet, then Goldie my Connemara Cross.
I studied Art at A level then went on to Reading University to read Latin and Classical Studies - mainly to prove I wasn’t the dunce of my very large and talented family. Well, suffice to say, that’s still work in progress …. !
In 2008, I picked up the pencil again and for the last ten years have devoted my spare time from tutoring English to drawing dogs in pastel, by commission.
Drawing dogs has been a most rewarding part-time hobby for me as well as a good discipline which has taught me perseverance and patience. I began with pastels for their ease of use and last year took up oil painting classes at Brettenham Village Hall with the wonderful Ed Cooper, since when I have fallen in love with this medium. I have never gone in for hyper-realism. I'm not that disciplined or methodical. As a bystander once commented - ‘you overlook the finer details and cut to the chase, homing in on the heart and soul rather than every single hair and whisker’.
Looking back to my earlier works, I can see that I’ve come a long way. In the early days, when life was going through some ups and downs, I found that doing dog portraits was a necessary discipline for me and very grounding. I found it took a lot of grit and patience at first to tackle my subjects successfully and to come away with a pleasing result but with every study I made, I learned something new and found that I was making progress whilst receiving positive feedback from customers. I found that pastels and coloured pencils were a good starting-point for getting to grips with the basic draughtmanship of the dog, learning the lay of the land with the dog's face and figuring out the fundamental principles of how not to make the eyes too big and comical-looking and how to make a muzzle come towards you. For many years I found Dogs' noses the greatest test of all but as an oil painter they've become my favourite challenge. Painting with oils is a whole different ball game which I am really relishing. This gorgeous medium has really helped me to raise my game.
You'll find several portraits of Olive, my Whippet, in the gallery. The first of these in line was accepted by the Ipswich Art Society last April for their annual exhibition. I am currently working on a series of Galgo paintings. Many of these beautiful dogs are rescued by the Galgos del Sol charity in Murcia, Spain, having been abandoned by the Galguerros after the hunting season. This is a charity close to my heart now. I am donating 10% from the sales of my new card range 'Waifs & Strays' to this noble cause. Please see my cards for details.
Olive features again, in elongated form, at the bottom of this page. This stylised portait of her in oils was recently on show at The Apex, Bury St Edmunds, as part of an exhibition called 'Inspirations' organised by Suffolk Open Studios.
‘We still can’t get over the amazement we feel that your portrait of our little Megan is so like her, so full of life that it is positively mesmeric. We can’t praise you enough.”
Margaret, Norfolk. October 2017
In June I will be taking part in Suffolk Open Studios for the second year running so if you’d like to pop along and see some of my work in the flesh, my studio will be open on the 16/17 and 23/24 of June 2018. Please see www.suffolkopenstudios.org for details.
I have recently published a range of cards called ‘Suffolk Dogs’ which are on sale in various outlets across Suffolk. Please see the ‘cards’ section for details and if you’re interested in commissioning a portrait of your dog, do bear in mind that high-quality, eco-friendly cards could be part of the package.
Do call me if you have any questions about my work or would like to commission a drawing - I’m always happy to chat …
Thank you for listening
Olive with my daughter, Ophelia
"I can't even put into words how happy I am with the portrait of Bramble, Tali and Liffe. You have managed to capture not only the likeness but the true characters of my dogs. I was so thrilled with it, I couldn't wait to give it to my hubbie so I've unveiled it to him already plus all my friends and family!"
Emma Winter, Raydon. November 2017