‘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 brushing my teeth 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. In June I'll be spending a week with Hugo Grenville who I'm sure will blow my mind and introduce me to colours that I didn't know existed which I hope will invigorate my backgrounds and, I hope, teach me to paint in a more spontaneous manner. I'm becoming more of a colour-junkie each year so if your dog has a favourite blanket he snuggles up with, or toy or armchair, then I would love to incorporate that in your portrait; the more props, the merrier.
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 look back now on those early drawings and realise how far I've come. It's been a journey of angst and growing confidence and it's incredibly satisfying to see something that was once just a 'silly little pass-time' which earned a few pennies on the side now glowing with 'bread and butter' potential.
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.
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 in 2017 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’.
Oil is now my favourite medium. It's really helped me to raise my game.
Above is my most recent commission, a portrait of Candy, a rescue Greyhound from The Greyhound Trust Suffolk in Capel St Mary, near Ipswich. The trust work hard to rescue many beautiful dogs like these from the racing circle and are always on the look out for more loving homes for dogs just like her. Candy's owners have enjoyed the company of dogs all their lives but feel that this one is extra special as she has the loveliest nature and is the most low maintenance friend they've ever owned 'requiring just two short walks a day'. Post meeting her, I decided I'd like to enjoy my retirement with a Greyhound just like her because she's such a beauty and so laid back compared to my Whippets. Shhh... don't tell!
I've recently been working on a series of Galgo (Spanish Greyhound) paintings because I think they have the most characterful of faces and to highlight the plight of these beautiful dogs who are often abandoned by the Galguerros after the hunting season. All the galgos featured below were rescued by Galgos del Sol, a charitable rescue organisation based in Murcia, Spain
Galgo Paintings, Suffolk Living exhibition, October 2018
It's not all just about hounds and Whippets though. Please check my gallery to see that I do delight in painting other makes of dog also!
"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 (below), 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 myself and art tutor Ed Cooper at a preview gathering at 'Suffolk Living', Felixstowe this May. Some of my most recent work will remain on show here, at this gorgeous gallery at the sea-end of town, until the end of the month alongside the totally charming still-lives of Sue Arnold, my friend and fellow oil-painting artist.
Olive with my daughter, Ophelia