When I look at a new canvas with nothing on it but a pencil sketch of what I have planned, and then I look across at one of my finished paintings, I can never quite believe the almost blank canvas in front of me is one day going to look like that.
It can still feel this way even after the first layer is on and all the canvas is covered. Then, as I begin to build up the layers; although it is still a one dimensional work, as the glazes are applied and the detail refined; it becomes something more.
Gradually claws spread out and grip the branch, or creases in skin begin to overlap each other, noses and open mouths have depth, tusks and ears stand away from the body; as if you could grip them, eyes have life. It is no longer a cardboard cut out on a background; it almost becomes a solid, living thing.
My style is realistic; but I'm not trying for photographic, I think a painting can give something more than a photograph; but I do want the animal to seem real. Animals are amazing, beautiful, living things; so for me in a wildlife painting, the animal has to have life.
I have to admit to a bit of my love of animals being a childlike feeling - a wanting to push your fingers through the fence and stroke them kind of feeling. My husband always says that where nature is concerned I always have to touch; I can't just look.
So for me, in order to achieve the realism I am looking for in my work, that feeling of being able to reach out and touch it has to be there. So when you walk into a room and see one of my paintings, I want you to appreciate the life, beauty and character of the animal I am portraying. But as you move closer I don't want that realism to be lost. From inches away I want you to get a sense of the wispy fur in a leopard's ears, the velvety softness of a giraffe's nose, or the thick skin of a rhino's back; I want you to see what you would see if you had the chance to be that close to that animal.