We are now halfway through August, and therefore halfway through our Summer Art Club! This week we have been speaking to Harriet Lowther about her canine creations...
Harriet is a Wiltshire based artist and illustrator, working in a variety of mediums, from ceramics to watercolours. We adore Harriet's work and wanted to find out more about what inspires her.
What inspired you to create artwork featuring animals?
I am in a band called The Zoots. We have been lucky enough to perform all over the world, which meant many hours at airports and not being home long enough to have a dog of our own. I am not ashamed to admit I am a bit dog (and animal) mad. One day I found myself sketching dogs on the backs of boarding passes, and it kind of took off from there. That was in 2016. My work has changed considerably since then. It was a journey, most of it was not great but there was the occasional piece of work which I was really excited about which encouraged me to keep going.
Do you have a favourite animal subject matter?
I of course love love LOVE drawing and painting dogs, but I have also captured cats, bears, the occasional wolf, birds, lots of Australian animals to raise funds and awareness following the Australian bush fires. More recently, I have been studying a whole host of African animals following my trip to Kenya in 2019. I have always been very drawn to the greyhound, galgo, and any pointy nosed sighthound. There's lots of fun to be had with their long snoots, long legs, their speed, and their ability to sleep most of the day.
What medium do you work in?
I really do use a range of different materials, partly to keep it fresh and also to be able to have different materials to suit each subject. Each material comes with its own advantages and its own challenges. If I want to work quickly, then pencil crayons are great. If I have more time, watercolour or gouache might be great. My current favourite materials are brush pens, gouache (a type of paint), pencil crayons and water soluble pastels. When working on commissions, I tend to use watercolour as I work in layers so I can watch the painting progress. I also work with ceramics, using underglazes to illustrate directly onto fired clay. Occasionally I hand build little dogs, bears and bowls, but find it very hard to part with these.
What is your favourite time of day to create?
Ooh this is a great question! I am a bit totally guilty of going with the flow and being creative when the moment strikes, and working on admin and other areas when it doesn't. It could be 7am or midnight, there's really no rhyme or reason.
Do you have a favourite animal-themed artwork by another artist?
What advice would you give to amateur artists wanting to work with animal subjects?
Capturing animals can be tricky, it took me a long time until I was happy with what I was making. I would do some close up studies and parts of animals, patterns on their fur, studies of shape, figure, movement. Use single lines to capture outlines, block colours to mark out shapes, Experiment and have fun. I would suggest drawing, sketching and painting every single day. Work in a sketchbook, just for you, and create create create. Try out different materials, see what you like, what you don't. layer materials, stick stuff on, cut stuff out. Look around, go to galleries, go outside, look at other artists. What colours do you like, what textures do you like? Any you don't like? Don't be disheartened if your work isn't what you want it to be right away. That is the journey. I don't know any artist who loves everything they make. Don't be deceived by the perfect final pieces you see on social media, there are hours and hours and sketchbooks full of mistakes, trials and disasters which you won't be seeing. See if artists you like have a Patreon where you can follow, and learn from them.