Monday, 8 June 2009

Karen Coulson in final of the BBC Wildlife Artist of the Year

Siberian Eagle Owl
33cm width x 24cms depth unframed; Caran d'Ache Prismalo coloured pencils on mountboard
copyright Karen Coulson

Karen Coulson has had her drawing in coloured pencils of a Siberian Eagle Owl accepted in the competition to find the BBC Wildlife Artist of the Year.

We asked Karen for an interview and this is what she had to say.

What's your approach to wildlife art? Why are you interested in it?

I love the detail and challenge of drawing fur or feathers. I try to capture the essence of the animal in the eye. I prefer to draw a portrait rather than the whole animal or a scene. I do a lot of domestic animal portraits for commission. I enjoy human life drawing aswell but have no desire to complete a human portrait.

How do you generate your reference photos?

I like to go on photographic days with other artists. This year I have been to Port Lympne Zoo in Kent with the Marwell International Wildlife Art Society (MIWAS) and to the British Wildlife Centre in Sussex with a fellow artist. Although these days cost a bit more than normal zoo entry fees you can spend more time up close with the animals and hopefully get better quality pictures.

What's the story behind your piece and why did you choose to enter this one?

I photographed this Siberian Eagle Owl, called Sugarpuff, at Liberty's Rapture and Reptile Centre in Ringwood, Hampshire.

I originally drew him to exhibit at MIWAS Exhibition 08. I entered him into the World Birds behaviour and portrait category because I felt he fitted into the portrait section rather well. I thought his bright orange eye would make an impact. Sometimes you can draw a fabulous picture for a competition, but if it does meet the requirements of what they are looking for, it will not get into the next round regardless of how good it is.

What pencils and support did you use for your artwork and why did you choose them?

I used Caran D’ache Prismalo pencils. They are very hard and sharpen to a fine point. They are also water soluble.To get the intense black feathers I added water to an initial layer of dark brown. Then I applied black over the top. Also, I used a fine brush to pick up some colour to apply some of the feather textures in the body and to define the fluffy feathers around the beak. For my support I used mount board. It will take small quantities of water without sustaining any damage.

Tell us a bit about yourself and your background as an artist

I've always enjoyed art and crafts and went to Art College to study fashion and design. Marriage and three sons followed. As the boys have got older - they're now teenagers - I've been able to return to my art and recently was able to give up my part time job to concentrate solely on my artwork.

I've just qualified to be a tutor in adult education through gaining my Level 4 Certificate in Teaching in the Lifelong Learning Sector.

I will be demonstrating Derwent products for 2 days and then running a 1 day workshop at the Cumberland Pencil Museum Keswick in July, plus I will be running one day workshops at my local secondary school.

Note: BBC Wildlife Artist of the Year Competition
The competition is new this year, is open to both professional and amateur artists and is free to enter. It has 14 different categories. Each category will have a winner chosen by our panel of expert judges, and their artwork will be displayed with the annual exhibition of the Marwell International Wildlife Art Society and published in BBC Wildlife in August 2009. Plus, the overall winner will be awarded the title ‘BBC Wildlife Artist of the Year 2009’ and will win a place on the 2010 Festival of Wildlife in Brazil (see far right).

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