‘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.
For the last ten years I've drawn and painted dogs almost exclusively, making studies of my own Whippets and producing portraits in pastel and oil of other dogs by commission.
I regularly undertake commissions these days and find great joy in depicting all the different characters who come my way. Having recently taken on a studio in Lavenham, I've signed up to the idea that I am now a 'full-time artist' and spend my weekdays either working on commissions or painting my own Whippets with a continual mission to better myself as an artist and take the genre of dog-portraiture to a new level.
It's not just my subject matters which inspire me, it's also the art of picture-making and the challenge of creating a successful portrait. This often starts by making a preliminary sketch in order to find the strongest composition possible to work with, then choosing a colour palette which harmonises and makes a tasteful statement. The fusion of colour and pattern really inspires me and so I look forward to introducing more textiles into my portraits as well as exploring a wider range of postures as I move ahead.
Whenever I'm commissioned to do a portrait - I see it as my job to improve that photograph - to bring it to life, not just by achieving a good likeness of the dog but also by creating an appealing work of art from what reference material is to hand. People say I'm good at capturing 'eyes'. This is always my favourite part of a painting and I like to think that all my portraits have soul. I'm often asked to paint dogs who are 'no longer with us' and sometimes to merge them with their successors, using separate reference photos - and this I am happy to do - and also to add any additional props to the composition, like favourite toys and blankets. I like to keep my style as non-photographic and loose and painterly as possible.
In 2017 and 2018 I took part in Suffolk Open Studios and look forward to becoming a member again in 2020 and opening my Lavenham studio to the public on the weekends of the 13th/14th and 27th/28th June.
It's become a growing regret of mine that I never went to Art school and apart from studying Art at A'level and attending a local oil class more recently, I have been largely self-taught. For this reason, I recently enrolled on a one-year Diploma in Oils course at the Norfolk Painting School and attended my first workshop there this January where I learned about the popular 'ebauche' method of painting employed by old masters post the Renaissance. Below is an example of a Lurcher using this technique which Landseer would also have used starting from a black ground/underlay and working to light.
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 (click to view) then please ask.
"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
Please have a browse at my gallery to see some of my most recent commissions and paintings of my own Whippets, some of which are available for sale. Please click on the images for their titles and prices. Paintings are also available to purchase in 'other works'.
Visitors to my studio are always welcome and the studio chair is always at the ready for any furry poseurs who fancy having their portraits painted so please pop in and say Hi. You will find the Whippets and I at No.3 Lavenham Studios, Brent Eleigh Road, Lavenham every week day.
Olive with my daughter, Ophelia