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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, we weren’t taught 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 embroidery kits in the 1990s. My chosen technique was counted thread work, which involved working on a square grid. This limited the realism I could achieve.

My first online lesson

It wasn’t until my early fifties that I was drawn back to art. Realising that my skills needed brushing up, I decided to gift 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. After just one class I realised just 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

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 main 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). 

Me in a bird hide at Rutland Water. (Photo Credit to Mel Parsons)

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

I have always had an interest in birds, especially raptors, so it was inevitable that 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.

In addition to 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?