Last month I was privileged to interview three amazing, up-and-coming wildlife artists about their work. In previous posts, Milly Formby and Kate Cranney talked about their art. This week’s post features the beautiful drawings of Rachel Hollis.
The wildlife here is just so varied and colorful. Seeing it through British eyes was amazing. I loved it. In the cities here, the wildlife is almost on your doorstep, you don’t have to go far to get to a National Park. Whereas, you know London – nature seems to be squeezed out of it.
Rachel: I’m really pleased when I’ve drawn something that has a real likeness to what I am trying to illustrate but, at the same time, I’m not trying to get a photo-realist picture.
I want to create something that lets you see the character of what I’m drawing and something that triggers an emotional response in people: something they’ve seen before or that reminds them of their childhood or where they used to live.
Sometimes I think a drawing looks finished but I just know there’s something left that needs to be done. I’ll leave it there for a day or two and I’ll keep looking at it, and then suddenly I’ll think, “hang on, that needs to be changed.” It’ll just stand out.
It’s a feeling. You’ve got to give it a few days to realize it, but once those final details are in, then I know: that’s it.
I’m from the UK originally and we lived in Spain before we came to Australia. I’ve always had a love for art and nature, but my wildlife drawings didn’t really come to life until I’d traveled more and had been to some stunning places and seen different species of birds and animals. Those experiences really encouraged me to start connecting the two: the wildlife and my art.
It’s only this year that I’ve started drawing wildlife, it’s still quite new for me. Before I moved to Australia I mostly painted people in watercolor. My wildlife work is mainly in pencil and I haven’t tried wildlife in watercolour yet.
You never stop learning as an artist. You always try new techniques and different types of inspiration. I’m still learning.
When I’ve drawn something that I’m really happy with, I tend to put a little bit more extra time and love into it as well. Whereas if I’m struggling with a piece – I’m enjoying the process but maybe I don’t put as much emotional energy into it. And I think people can see that.
I’d encourage new artists to get out in nature and to find something they really enjoy – whether its birds or insects or anything – something specific that really touches them and moves them, and to use that in their art.
“When you put a lot of love and time into something, it works out better.
All illustrations are by Rachel Hollis, used with permission. You can view more of Rachel’s work at her web site. Many thanks to all three artists for their enthusiastic conversation. The original transcript has been edited and condensed to improve readability.