Fortunately, there has never been a time when I haven't had animals in my life and even when I had a flat in my twenties I kept two goldfish in a tank! Except for rats, reptiles and sheep I can't think of a farm or domestic animal I haven't shared my life with at some point.
I live just outside Maldon in Essex and am married to a farmer. I stayed and helped on the farm whilst the family were growing up but, when they were older and I had celebrated my fortieth birthday, I decided I needed a new challenge in life. I was very fortunate to get a place as a working pupil in a large riding school/livery yard managed by Daphne Jiggins and, under her expert tuition and guidance, I took and passed British Horse Society exams and achieved my goal of becoming a riding instructor. The BHS exams required you to have knowledge of the muscular and skeletal systems of the horse and this has proved invaluable to me when painting horse portraits.
When I retired from teaching and riding horses, and after a brief spell working in an office, I decided a new challenge was called for. My friends in dog rescue had been most supportive and encouraging of my efforts to paint dog portraits, so I enrolled with The London Art College and took their Pet Portraits Diploma Course tutored by Melanie Phillips whose work I much admire. This is an intensive pet portrait course covering the drawing and painting of all types of pets in a variety of mediums (graphite, coloured pencil, pastel, acrylic and oil) and on completion I was delighted to receive my pet portrait diploma with a distinction. So my life has changed direction yet again and I am currently thoroughly enjoying this new challenge which combines my love for animals with my love of art.