Animals were the first subjects I decided to draw the first time I picked up a pencil as a child, and nothing much has changed since! Over the years I have established a unique style which combines realism with an occasional touch of fantasy.
Of course, being a passionate animal lover myself, I understand the place our pets enjoy in our hearts: each dog is an individual; each cat is unique; each rabbit mischievous. I aim to capture this in watercolour and occasionally take commissions from private individuals who want a special image of their beloved pets to cherish forever.
The gallery below shows some of my previous work. For my current availability and prints please see my Etsy shop. For commissions please e-mail me via the 'contact' page.
A small portrait in watercolour of a friend's spaniel, Millie.
A friend of mine asked for a miniature watercolour portrait of her new partner’s dog for Christmas. He’s a cute little border terrier called Rusty who loves to pose for the camera. As usual I got Christmas fever and used my own initiative to make it into a festive portrait. There’s even a miniature version of Rusty hanging on the tree!
When I found out my good friend’s ginger cat, Flynn, had passed away just before Christmas, I decided to paint a miniature portrait of him as a present. I only had two afternoons to finish it but I was very pleased with the result and I hope it will provide some comfort to my friend. Dimensions: H: 10.2cm x W: 6.7cm
My beloved cat Jemima features in this portrait. 'Singer' refers not only to the sewing machine and my love of sewing, but also to my love of singing, so this was a highly personal portrait for me. I stopped counting after 100+ hours of painting. Part of me didn't want to sell it, but it did so at a Lakes' Artists' Society Summer Exhibition. The fabric is called 'Pondicherry'. Dimensions: H: 270mm x W: 406mm
‘HMV’ is the second watercolour painting in my ‘Antique Cats’ series. It features Benja Blue, one of the cats I grew up with and this website's namesake. He was actually born on the same day as me, but in the year 2000. He died aged nearly 16. The actual painting time was 148 hours and 40 minutes, but I worked on it for well over a year. Dimensions: H:558mm x W:762mm
I met this Alsation, Cally, outside a pub in Eskdale. She had a look of wistful longing, but in reality she was probably just bored and waiting for her owners to finish their pints! I painted Cally during a particularly long winter and her emotions seemed to capture what I felt at the time: that I was simply waiting for spring. Dimensions: H:380mm x W:295mm
Isla (black) is the older of these two 'cockapoodledoos' and is obsessed by balls (hence the red ball in the painting), whereas Belle (cream) is younger and still has a lot to learn! They are beautiful, friendly bears with lovely personalities. I especially enjoyed tackling the variations in their fur. Isla has tighter curls whereas Belle has a looser texture to her coat. They live on the coast in Cumbria and spend all their time on the sandy beaches of St Bees.
A commission for a couple's very old birman cat who spent most of his later life snuggled in their airing cupboard! Pepe's pedigree name was 'Myrtle Manors Spring Topper', hence the sprig of myrtle at his feet. ‘Kelly painted a beautiful picture of our cat, Pepe. She has captured the personality and essence of our much loved pet. We are delighted.’ Dimensions: H:320mm x W:320mm
This still life painting is one of my personal favourites. I had the photo of the vase of crysanthemums and carnations (taken in Cartmel Fell Church) for a long time. Sometimes an idea takes a while to formulate and so it was with this painting. Once I had taken the right photo of a sparrow it all came together. The title comes from a song which relates that even the smallest and weakest among us should be looked after and cherished.
Meet Joey, a beautiful greyhound. Yes, his ears and feet are really that big! I received an excellent photo with beautiful lighting to work from. Joey’s human ‘auntie’ said: ‘Wow Kelly, it’s amazing! Thank you so much. My sister will absolutely love it I’m sure!’ H:350mm x W:335mm
Mr Darcy and Jess are beautiful sibling moggies I was asked to paint for their owner’s birthday. Darcy is definitely the more outgoing cat and I was able to get some photos of him. However Jess is very timid and I managed to capture just one shot of her peeping around the sofa. I amalgamated the photos for this painting, as I often do, to get a better composition. Dimensions: H: 160mm x W: 163mm
This portrait features Jemima, and the beautiful peach-coloured shrub surrounding her is Chaenomeles ‘Geisha Girl’. I was so pleased that Geisha Girl won the 2012 Rheged Award for the best figurative painting by an artist under 35 years of age in the Lakes' Artists Summer Exhibition.
A personal painting of my beloved cat Jemima Blue. We lived in a house with a staircase wrapped around a tree trunk and I believe it was the biggest cat scratching post in the world! Here she is watching us from the windowsill. H:330mm x W:260mm
Sammi was a friend’s beloved springer spaniel. I didn’t get the chance to meet her, but worked on a commission from a lovely photo. Here she is retrieving her ball after having a dip in the sea. I received this kind message from Sammi’s owner: ‘Kelly, I just wanted to let you know how absolutely amazing your painting of my special Sammi was. I cried as soon as I saw the finished picture and couldn’t believe it was a painting. You captured her beauty amazingly.’ H:145mm x W:175mm
One of my rabbits, Briar Rose, snuggled in a Victorian curio box with a garland of 'briar rose' flowers. H:285mm x W:360mm
Jemima is once again the subject of this painting. We all know that cats love boxes, right? H:230mm x W:220mm
A wedding present miniature featuring the hardy Herdwick sheep breed, who live on the high fells through the worst the weather can throw at them. They are ‘hefted’ to a fell, which means they remember which fells they ‘belong’ to and generally stay in the same area. ‘Tup’ is the local word for a ram, while the female ‘ewe’ has been corrupted into ‘yow’ in the local dialect. The fells in the background are seen from the Wasdale Valley.
An illustration featuring a robin and wild snowdrops. I used a dip pen for the ink work which I rather enjoy using, though at times it can be a little unpredictable!
A small painting I did as a wedding gift for my Bosnian friend. I think to me dog roses represent nature, wild and unrepentant. They grow almost anywhere and scramble and claw their way towards the light. They are survivors. Their trunks and branches are covered with violent thorns, yet their flowers entice you in with delicate beauty. H:100mm x W:100mm
I keep coming back to this image and have done a couple of versions so far. Lady Mistletoe was one of my previous guinea pigs and I just love curling mistletoe around her.
A painting I did a long time ago featuring native UK birds on a Christmas wreath. I always enjoy creating folds in fabric and I remember I spent an inordinate amount of time on the ribbon! H:230mm x W:200mm
This is an early commission of two beautiful old greyhounds, Toby and Gem, and their handsome ginger feline companion, Buddy. They all live together on a houseboat with their owner, so I named this painting ‘Wheelhouse Dogs’ as a working title. Gem, Toby and Buddy’s owner kindly said: ‘My painting arrived and I absolutely love it! Thank you! H:400mm x W:260mm
Dianthus, which includes old-fashioned garden pinks, are one of my favourite flowers because of their scent, their hardiness and their colours. This particular dianthus has ‘angel wing’ markings on each purple/pink petal. It often remarkable how few colours are needed: all of the flower was rendered in mixes of alizarin crimson, French ultramarine and a little bit of lamp black. Dimensions: H:170mm x W:195mm
Meet Lady Mistletoe, my albino guinea pig who has sadly passed away. She was pretty wild and the only time I ever got near her was when I had to clip her nails. I was happy for her to live her life unburdened by humans and she made her home with Frederick Fudge, my other guinea pig at the time. This was a bit of an experiment and it will remain in my own personal collection as a reminder of a beautiful little lady. H:220mm x W:220mm
I met this little chap and his mate in the Gambia, both members of the species Tockus erythrorhynchus, or red-billed hornbills. They had a fondness for cashew nuts and followed me around for them. They are beautiful, inquisitive little birds, and I enjoyed making his feathers look like you could reach out and touch their softness. Red-billed hornbills are large birds at around 42cms, but are one of the smaller hornbills. H:380mm x W:295mm
I include this painting of Benja Blue as one of the first paintings that really made me think seriously about painting pet portraits. I hope I have improved since I created this painting many years ago and I can see obvious flaws, but I still love it and it means a lot to me. H:355mm x W:460mm