All my life I have felt a strong empathy with animals. I wanted to work with them from an early age, but was unsure which path was the right one. As a child I learned to ride in a centre that was a dealing yard as well as a riding school, a real baptism of fire. Those years gave me the ability to sit on all sorts of horses and taught me the skills to read them. I learned the importance of interpretation of their expressions and body language, an essential tool to understand problems, but more importantly to understand a horse’s boundaries. When still at school I would spend my weekends working with horses, and the weekdays drawing them. They were my life then, and still are now.

My further education was a family priority, and on leaving school, I was accepted for Art College. I graduated from Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art in Dundee with an Honours degree in Illustration and a Post-Graduate Diploma in Printmaking.

After college, I was torn between pursuing a life riding and working with horses, or a life of drawing and painting them. I had found it difficult being without my horses for those five years of education, so over the next decade I spent the majority of my time competing and training horses, and painting in any free moments I could find.

Through my contacts from event riding, I was asked to create a picture, called PRIDE OF SCOTLAND, for the ILPH (now the World Horse Welfare organisation), which helped raise their profile, but also brought interest in my work from abroad.

A commission to do a portrait of the last eight Hong Kong Derby winners, to be auctioned for charity at the Racehorse Owners Association in Hong Kong, followed. The piece raised HK$300,000. This led to travelling and working internationally, and the realisation that the balance of my professional future was changing forever. I outgrew my living and working space, and with the increase in my equine and canine dependants, a totally rural lifestyle seemed more appropriate.

A departure to the Scottish Borders allowed me the facility to fulfil both parts of my life. I trained and competed my own horses as a hobby, whilst my creativity had an outlet through my drawing and painting, but now as my career. I settled there for another ten years, surrounded by my dogs and my horses, but as ever time moved on, change again beckoned, and I began to search broader horizons for my future.

I moved to France in the November of 2005, seduced by clement weather and the opportunity to purchase an awe-inspiring stone built farm in the Dordogne, in a landscape not unlike the rolling hills I had left behind. The huge barns offer fantastic potential to both develop superb studio space and accommodate my horses and dogs. The light is wonderful and the setting peaceful and inspiring. I eventually plan to run a holiday painting school from here.

Throughout my life I have always tried to support charities working for animal welfare. Soon after arriving in France, I donated a portrait to raise money for a small animal rescue charity based in France.

In 2007, my eyes were opened to the horrors of the unmonitored trafficking of unwanted equines at the bottom end of the continental horsemeat trade when I took on a frightened little Portuguese gelding. He had suffered dreadful neglect and cruelty, as had the other horses and donkeys rescued by like-minded people from the same premises. Unfortunately, this is not uncommon due to the lack of implementation of the welfare laws across Europe.

As a result of this I was asked to help form an association to raise awareness of the plight of these horses in France. I did so willingly, and ERF was set up with the founding principals echoing those of the WHW. How strange that my life now involves both extremes of the welfare spectrum, the unwanted of the horse world and those cherished and cosseted.

I am very lucky to have had the opportunity to meet some exceptional horses through my work. Each has an aura that is hard to define, but exists nonetheless. These equine superstars know they are special, and on occasion can be difficult to photograph as attitude often runs hand in hand with incredible talent. I consider it an honour to have been asked to portray some of the legends of the horse world, but ultimately, my pleasure is derived from successfully creating a portrait with as true a likeness as possible. For me, as an artist, the celebrity status is immaterial. Every individual is different, with an exclusive personality that must jump from the page. The integrity of my work is what drives me, as I endeavour above all else to capture the character, the familiar expression and the soul shining from the eyes.

If you are interested in an original portrait of your animal please visit my COMMISSIONS page.





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