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Toned Drawing - Animal portraits of Laura Wright
Laura Wright is one of our popular artists on social media, we love the work she creates on our Strathmore Toned Tan. We ask her about why she prefers our Toned Tan paper, to share a little about her technique and also how she monetises her drawings. Her success proves that what can start as a hobby can become a great business.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself? What your background is?
I've been drawing animals for as long as I can remember, I still have many drawings from my childhood, I keep them to remind me that every single piece is a journey and you learn something new every time you put pencil to paper. I also have been an animal lover since I was small. I've been a veterinary nurse for over 10 years now, my drawing started off as a hobby but has grown and now I have a growing art business and a lovely following of art/animal lovers alike.
When and how did you start artist career? Were you always drawing?
I started to see my love for drawing as something more than just a hobby just a few years ago, but only very recently have I really begun to value my skills properly and feel more confident with my ability. Within the last two years, I've really started evaluating the types of paper I use, experimenting with different techniques, pencils and tools and it's really made a difference to my work.
You say you use the Toned Tan for your drawings, what do you like about it? How does it enhance what you do? Can you describe what it’s like to use it? How it takes the pencil, what it feels like?
I think the first time I became aware of the Strathmore Toned Range it was following the Australian Artist Georgina Kreutzer, her use of colour on the toned paper is phenomenal and I was inspired to see how my portraits of dogs and cats would look on this paper. I have the large paper pads but I also use the artist tiles a lot for my 'mini pictures'. The paper takes on several layers of pencil with no issue, highlights have a significant impact as you can lay down white pencil directly on the paper, The paper has a beautiful smooth texture but equally has a real 'kraft' paper look to it with different flecks of colour within the grain of the paper.
The Fox and the Butterfly were drawn on Strathmore Toned Tan. It's tricky to settle on a reference that I absolutely love, I have a whole file of 'pending drawing pictures' these were from Pixabay and Wildlife Reference Photos. I'm incredibly happy with the Butterfly and how to colours Pop against the toned tan paper. The Fox was very much a learning process, looking at adding more interest to my pieces with the addition of objects such as the rock. I usually work on larger portraits so working small scale was a challenge to get in the detail. The Hare 'Harold' and the horse portrait were both drawn on the Toned grey paper, again, the warm tones of the fur and hair just jump out from this paper in a way like no other. I'm always experimenting with different paper types like Fabriano or Saunders Waterford paper, but time and time again I return to the Strathmore papers.
How have you found Etsy as a platform for helping commercialise and earn revenue from your work?
Etsy has really come into its own over the festive season, I started creating coasters printed with images of my work in 2018, and I sell greetings cards and prints of my work through my Etsy shop too, I'm still learning and wish I had more time to put into tutorials helping me to drive sales with my Etsy shop. Good images of your products make a huge difference to sales.
Does it peak at certain times? Any tips for other artists?
Generally, I am much busier over the festive season compared to the rest of the year, I do have to be ruthless and create a cut off date for commissions and Etsy shop sales as I also have two children so Christmas is a busy time already without the added worry of meeting commission deadlines, one thing I have learnt is not to be afraid to say no. Gift vouchers are often a good alternative to people who may have left present buying a little too late, have confidence that your artwork is worth waiting for.
You do training and workshops I saw, do you like doing them? Does it help with your own work or challenge you?
I've always been an admirer of hugely successful coloured pencil artists such as Paul Doyle, Jessica Lennox and Amie Howard, and I've been lucky enough to spend a small amount of time with Paul Doyle (several years ago) and have been a student of Amie Howard for the last year following her tutorials and gaining new skills and techniques which has challenged me and pushed my work to a new level. Following artists inspires me to be more experimental and to evaluate what I'm doing with each drawing. I love it when artists are open and happy to share their techniques, have advice about paper types, it's the best way to learn.
And finally, a fun question, if you were a Strathmore Paper which one would you be?
100% without hesitation Toned Tan! Everyone loves a tan! It makes you feel super healthy!
To see more of Laura's work, see these links below: