INTERVIEW WITH ARTIST LOUISE WHEEL
Your drawings are amazing. When did you realise you had a talent for sketching pets? Did you study art or are you self taught?
Thank you. I started drawing pets about seven years ago when I drew one of my friend's pets as a present. This lead me onto doing commissions for friends of my friends and it grew from there. I've never studied art, I teach myself as I go along. I started drawing wild animals just as a hobby about thirteen years ago. It was quite a surprise to me that I could draw.
Do you use any other medium besides pencils and how long does it take you to complete a drawing of a cat, for instance?
I only use graphite pencils. I feel that this is my best medium so I stick to what I'm good at. I'd love to use colour but I haven't the aptitude for painting. I've tried watercolour but it's so difficult. A drawing of a cat can take a few days to a couple of weeks.
There are many pet illustrators out there, what do you feel makes your work unique to others and truly your own?
I think my drawings are a simple capture of a pets character. Their personality shows mostly through their eyes which I hope I portray.
Do you face any challenges being an artist?
It's a challenge for me to be completely happy with any drawing I've done, there's always so much room for improvement but I have to stop myself from overdoing it with a drawing and possibly ruining it.
How do you start the creative process?
If I'm drawing someone's pet I study all the photos I've received and I eventually choose the one I feel shows the animal's true character. A certain expression that jumps out, it can be just the one of many photo's. When I draw wild animals I will just have an inclination one day to draw say an elephant or a serval cat. I will then look at some photos online or in books and find one that I'm drawn to.
Which drawing are you most proud of and why?
I think the one of my friends cat Sancha. It was the first pet I had done and I thinks it's quite striking as Sancha is looking directly at you with big clear eyes. My friend loved it thankfully.
Who are your favourite artists and do you draw inspiration from their work?
Gary Hodges is amazing. His work is breathtaking, so captivating and inspirational. Jamie Boots is a wonderful pencil artist too.
A lot of your sketches are of wildlife. Are these from a particular holiday you took?...
I lived in Cape Town in South Africa for a while and visited Botswana a couple of times, also Kruger National Park and I started sketching wild animals when I was living there. Whilst being within the vicinity of these magnificent wild creatures, I just felt the urge to draw them.
Tell us a bit about your cats and have you sketched them yet?
Lily is a pretty black and white Arabian Mau cat who I rescued when I was living in Muscat. Marmaduke is a ginger boy who turned up three years ago as a tiny kitten in a box in my garage. Lily is such a graceful, dainty cat with a wild streak. Marmaduke is quite a character. He looks like a prince but he's a ragamuffin underneath his regal exterior and very cheeky with it. Yes I have drawn them both.