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Carol Leather - my artist story

I inherited my artistic genes from my mother. She had the rare talent of being able to take a pen or pencil and the back of an old envelope, then conjure up a drawing of a horse from her imagination. 

I loved drawing, but lacked her skills. I had to have a model or a photograph to work from in order to get the proportions correct. This didn’t stop me trying, though. I passed my school art exam with flying colours. 

However, my school did not teach representational drawing, in fact that was frowned upon. It was important back in the 1970s to be “inventive” and experimental!

I found an outlet for my drawing in R.E. instead, illustrating my work with imagined scenes from the bible, based on the people around me. 

After becoming a parent, art took a back seat, until I incorporated it into my love of needlework and began designing counted embroidery kits in the 1990s, which involved working on a square grid. This limited the realism I could achieve.

It wasn’t until my early fifties that art drew me back. Realising that my skills needed brushing up, I gifted myself on my birthday 5 years ago and signed up with the world famous Master David Dooley where I fell in love with coloured pencils. Just one class made me realise what this medium was capable of!

So I enrolled in Sandra Angelo's Coloured Pencil College where I spent several years perfecting my art. You can find her programs at www.LearnToDrawFAST.com.

She coached me in her Atelier program until I was producing commissioned portraits of children and pets in black and white. Eventually she encouraged me back to coloured pencils, and I fell in love all over again. Gradually I moved from people to animals, as my principal subjects. 

I continued to improve my skills with the help of other well-known artists, including John Middick, Bonny Snowdon and Lisa Ann Watkins. I am also a member of the UKCPS (UK Coloured Pencil Society) and the CPSA (Colored Pencil Society of America). 

As a keen wildlife photographer and rambler, it wasn't long before the creatures living around me in our rural Cambridgeshire village appeared in my artwork.

I have always had an interest in birds, especially raptors, so inevitably, they would end up as models for my drawings, along with the comical puffin. Garden birds have also posed for me in the past. I have even created a "bird playground" in my front garden, adding branches between the bird bath and bird table to provide naturalistic settings for my photos.

Besides wildlife, I also love creating lasting memories of people's pets of all types - dogs, cats, horses, and smaller animals. I take special care to capture both the markings and character of these precious members of the family, who sadly never get to share our lives for long enough. 

One of my ambitions is to have drawn ALL the dog breeds found in the UK. I have a long way to go! Perhaps you can help me here?

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