Lisa Ann Watkins
I did not pick up a drawing pencil for more than twenty years. Now, having reconnected with my creative side, I want to make up for all that lost time. Having discovered that I have a natural ability to draw, especially to draw animals, I am realizing finally my dream to use my art to give voice to creatures in need.
When I create a portrait of an animal, whether that animal is a beloved family pet, an animal in the wild, or even a creature such as a bear that has been tortured by humans and now living now in a rescue sanctuary, I seek always to depict the animal’s true character. For a pet portrait commission, I sometimes am lucky enough to meet the model, spend time with the animal to learn about its nature, and watch the animal bond with its owner. The most difficult but sometimes most rewarding commission is to draw a pet that is no longer with us. Although sometimes truly draining emotionally, such a commission, especially when it captures not only the likeness of the pet but also the family’s love for and happiest memories of the animal, is intensely satisfying.
Except for “Jake” (not shown), I spent time with all of the dogs whose portraits appear above. The commission for “Jake” was executed in secret and, as in any circumstance when I cannot be introduced to the pet, I had to rely heavily on a third person’s story of the bond between the canine and its owner.
Of all the images above, the one that truly stands out, is the portrait of “Lucy,” who is one of my own rescued collies. As soon as I captured this image of her, I knew that I had found her pose. She lives for her tennis ball, and playtime would never end, if she had her way.
I immerse myself in each and every portrait I make, as I try to capture a moment, a memory, a connection, something so personal that sometimes it feels like a betrayal to share the final drawing with others. All of my clients, however, love that my portraits of their wonderful companions can be seen and appreciated by other animal lovers far and wide.
My wildlife artwork speaks not only for me but for animals across the globe whose lives are endangered—and for the humans who fight so hard for them.
About the Artist
Born in Cornwall in 1969, Lisa Ann Watkins only recently rekindled her interest in what have become the great twin passions of her life: creativity and love of animals.
A graduate of Cheltenham College of Art, where she majored in fashion design and textiles, Lisa Ann Watkins worked for years in the costume and bridal industry; then, realizing that the work had no real meaning for her, she stepped away. It was late 2012 before she took up her colored pencils again and set herself the challenge to pursue her true calling. By December 2012, having won two competitions organized by Colored Pencil magazine, she gained back her confidence and belief in her artistic talents.
First using her artwork to raise funds for the Snow Leopard Trust, Lisa Ann Watkins subsequently became an Artist Partner of the trust and then the subject of articles in a range of internationally distributed publications. She has licensed images of some of her work to a cross-stitch company in Australia and also has developed a line of her own merchandise featuring her images.
Based in the Forest of Dean, Lisa Ann Watkins currently works with the charities of her choice to promote awareness with her artwork; in addition, she operates a now well-established business in pet and wildlife portraiture, Animal Art by LAW.
Lisa Ann Watkins’s first solo exhibition took place in May 2014, following her initiatives on behalf of the world’s leading bear rescue organizations, including Animals Asia, Wildlife SOS, and Libearty Bear Sanctuary. Her visit to the latter in Romania in 2013 sparked her idea to use her art to tell the stories of endangered animals, which have no voice. That idea lies at the heart of all of Lisa Ann Watkins’s wildlife artwork and, she says, is on a par with creating the art itself.
Lisa Ann Watkins works mainly in graphite, colored pencils, and pastels but also is developing her oil techniques. Of all media, she acknowledges that colored pencils always seem to have the greater pull for her, perhaps because they allow her a control not achieved with her other tools. (She made the portrait Aussie, above, after a specialist colored pencil magazine asked her to create a step-by-step feature for its readers. She used wet pencils for the underpainting and up to 20 layers of dry pencil, built up to achieve the texture of the animal’s fur. Subsequently, Aussie was juried into the May 2015 UK Coloured Pencil Society (UKCPS) Open Exhibition at Menier Gallery in London.)
This year, in addition to the UKCPS exhibition, Lisa Ann Watkins has exhibited in “Nature in Art” as part of The Wildlife Art Society International (TWASI) annual exhibition, and she currently has work on display at Miners in Sling, among other venues. While preparing for her show in Monmouth this month, Lisa Ann Watkins is finalizing plans for a series of specialist art classes she’ll be offering.
Lisa Ann Watkins often receives People’s Choice awards in West Gloucestershire Art Society (WGAS) exhibitions in her home county of Gloucestershire.
Lisa Ann Watkins’s work most recently was on view (July 17-29) at Monmouth Shire Hall, Monmouth, South Wales. It may be seen through August 1 at Ross-on-Wye Library, Herefordshire, United Kingdom. This fall, Lisa Ann Watkins’s is exhibiting October 24-30 at Handel Protheroe Prize Competition at Bridges Community Centre, Monmouth.
See a related post, “Dog Days 2015“.