The pastel and colored pencil animal portraits of Debra Spence show the love she has for her subjects, and her amazing ability to bring them to life. Please visit her website to see more of her art.
I have been drawing since I was a child, and, whether I knew it then or not, my style has always been realism. I can remember meticulously copying the illustrations from storybooks, obsessing over every detail and infuriated if I couldn’t achieve a perfect reproduction.
In 2012, many years later, and after a busy career a million miles away from art, I decided to pick up a paintbrush for the first time. Starting with acrylics I began painting from my own photographs. I was soon getting positive feedback from family and friends and this encouraged me to develop my skills further. I moved on to experimenting with other media like soft pastels, graphite, tinted charcoal and colored pencils. I also started posting my pictures online; I set up a website to promote my work, joined several online art sites, started a Facebook page and joined Twitter.
In 2013, a little over a year later, I felt confident enough to enter my first gallery competition, The Lane Cove Art Awards. I was amazed and thrilled that my work “Contemplating” was awarded the People’s Choice Award.
I work mainly from reference photos. I have met some amazing wildlife photographers online who, as well as being extremely generous with their talent and time, are amazing artists in their own right.
Although I am still obsessed with detail, I like to think I’m not just reproducing a photo, but that I add another dimension. I try hard to achieve a realistic resemblance because I respect not only the subject, but the photographer’s skill in capturing the image.
Like many other who draw or paint wildlife, I love animals and I am constantly in awe of nature. I see inspiration everywhere and I have an almost endless wish list of potential subjects. My favourites are the primates, especially chimps and the great apes. I am drawn to their wonderfully expressive features, their eyes are especially mesmerizing.
My work is known for being emotive. I like to create pieces that move the viewer, stir some emotional response, and hopefully create empathy and awareness.
Looking to the future, I hope to be able to continue developing my skills by experimenting and practising my craft. I am a long way from earning a living from my art, but I am making the most of every day that I get to draw!
To have people choose to hang my work in their homes has given me the most amazing sense of achievement and pride.