We speak to Norfolk based pet portrait artist Alan Farrell
We speak to pet portrait artist, Alan Farrell about how he started out, and his soft spot for Spaniels and Labradoodles.
"I started drawing at school, more years ago than I care to admit. I was always interested in art and started drawing horses amongst other things – I even managed to sell a few portraits to friends and from a shop on Canvey Island where I was living at the time. My parents moved to Norfolk shortly after I’d started college which gave me an opportunity to change from academic courses to studying Art & Design at King’s Lynn College of Arts and Technology. I did well enough to get a place at the Norwich School of Art on a Fine Art degree course but, to my lasting regret, never took it up, choosing instead to get a “proper” job. I kept up with the art side of things though and did a lot of painting on leather jackets (all the rage in the 80’s alternative scene) and various drawings.
I’m now based in a little village called Longham in mid-Norfolk with my wife, our two Labradoodles, Ruby and Willow and a cat called Boris (who treats the house like a B&B). It was in 2011 that I really got back into drawing with Graphite and Ruby, our first Labradoodle pup, was the inspiration. After drawing her I did a portrait for a friend in America who had lost his dog a couple of years prior and things kind of took off from there. All of the commissions I’ve done since have been purely by word of mouth and my Facebook page – I don’t have a specific webpage of my own at the moment but will have by the end of the year. I went part time at work in May of last year to try and dedicate more time to drawing but it’s tricky to make things work with only two days a week to concentrate on drawing. I ended up taking on a new full time role at work in January and have let things die down a little since then. However, I have plans to go full time with my art in Autumn as I still have demand for dog portraits and I’m currently learning to Tattoo as well :D. I’m never 100% happy with any of my drawings but I think that’s a good thing, it’s how you push yourself to improve and refine a technique.
I love drawing any kind of dog really but have a soft spot for Spaniels and Labradoodles. I’m often asked whether it’s harder to draw dark or light dogs – dark ones are more time consuming as it involves putting more graphite down on the paper, but from a technical point of view they’re both about the same. My favourite part to draw is the nose closely followed by the eyes, these are the parts that really make the character and bring a drawing to life. I also love being able to meet the dogs before I draw them as one can get a little insight into their character.