‘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
Hi, I'm Dominica, a Suffolk girl, pictured here with Olive, my Whippet and 'First Friend'.
I have always had an affinity with animals and have rarely been without a furry friend in my life. I grew up on a farm surrounded by wildlife and fields full of Welsh Cobs bred by my parents and at the age of eight warmly welcomed the first dog into our family, a Whippet called Boadicea (who, unlike her namesake, wasn't much of a warrior-queen at all and was more commonly known as Pup Dog!). I drew from an early age. Beatrix Potter was my idol, Art was my favourite subject at school and animals appeared on every page of my early drawing books.
I studied Art at A level then went on to Reading University to read Latin and Classical Studies - partly because that was a family tradition and partly because I'd found Art A' level very uninspiring. I didn't gel with the teacher and so I avoided the art studio at all costs. In hindsight I wish I'd opted for Art school instead but I lacked belief in my abilities then and now that my children are 'grown up' I look forward to making up for lost time by making painting as regular a ritual as walking the dogs and spending my future cherry-picking courses with tutors who will help me to broaden my skills and enable me to become the best artist that I can be. This June I spent a week with Hugo Grenville who took me out of my box, teaching me to paint more spontaneously, 'plein-air' without a camera referring instead to my sketch book as much as possible.
Following divorce in 2008 and after a long period of 'just mothering' I picked up the pencil again and, with what spare time I had from tutoring English, began to draw dogs in pastel by commission.
I began with pastels for their ease of use and in 2017 took up oil painting classes with the wonderful Ed Cooper, since when I have fallen in love with this medium. I've never gone in for hyper-realism. I'm not disciplined enough to depict every single hair and wrinkle and anyway why try and replicate a photographic image when cameras are best at that? For me it's all about capturing the eyes and the attitude of the dog, exploring a rich palette of hidden colour and creating a work of art that's easy on the eye and sits comfortably on your wall.
Since 2014 I have run a small greetings card business called 'Foofster Designs', initially created to share my daughter's artwork with the wider public. Her cards have really found a niche in Suffolk and at the tender age of 18 she's sold almost 17,000 to date. It's been an exciting venture and so rewarding to see the artistic streak which my mum passed onto me, so evident in my daughter also.
See www.foofsterdesign.com for details.
Last year I developed my own card range which I am looking to expand so if you would like your furry friend to become part of my 'Suffolk Dogs' range then please ask.
If you take a glance at my gallery you'll see that it is predominantly hounds, including several portraits of my own Whippets but I do delight in painting other makes of dog also and warmly welcome new varieties to my portfolio.
"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
For the last two years I have taken part in Suffolk Open Studios and last November was invited to take part in the 'Heart of Suffolk' exhibition (see exhibitions page), a Suffolk Open Studio artists' collaborative, which now runs annually and I look forward to taking part again this November.
Do call me if you'd like to chat about any aspect of my work or if you fancy popping along to my 'studio' to see some of my paintings in the flesh. It may help you to decide whether pastel or oil would be your preference and give you a clearer idea on sizing and frame choice. I'd love to hear from you.
In December, another Whippet joined our pack called Muguet (meaning Lily of the Valley in French). Immediately below is a snap of us all enjoying some April sun together and beneath that a photo of my portrait of Muguet at the Ipswich Art Society.
I was thrilled to have had this portrait selected for the society's Annual Open Exhibition this May and look forward to entering a portrait of both my Whippets next year to see if I can clinch selection for a third time, entitling me to apply to become a fully-fledged 'Society Member'. This year's exhibition runs until the end of June at the Ipswich Art Gallery, 1 Upper High Street, Ipswich, next door to the Ipswich Museum.
From July 18th to 8th August some of my most recent work will be on show at the 'Inspirations' gallery in Wickham Market, which is part of the new Wickham Market Arts Project.
Olive with my daughter, Ophelia