Search

Islington artist launches pet portrait career

12:56 05 January 2013

Animal artist Susannah Peel, 25, at work on her latest portrait

Animal artist Susannah Peel, 25, at work on her latest portrait

Dieter Perry

They say the job of a portrait artist is to capture something of the subject’s personality on canvas.

Animal artist Susannah Peel, 25, with her dog SabbyAnimal artist Susannah Peel, 25, with her dog Sabby

Yet for one Islington painter forging a career in this most skilled of professions, it’s mostly about getting the fur coat and tail right.

Susannah Peel is a fledgling portrait artist dedicated to painting pets – be they dogs in drag or even gorillas – and has produced hundreds of works at her home in Barnsbury Street, in the “studio” which doubles as her bedroom.

From this humble workspace, the 25-year-old’s paintings travel far and wide, with more and more of them winding up on the other side of the Atlantic.

Ms Peel, who also volunteers at Islington homelessness charity The Pilion Trust, said: “I don’t have an art background, but I’ve been doing little sketches of animals since childhood.

“I was fixated on animals, but I didn’t live in the countryside and there weren’t many around. So I just drew them instead.”

She says the wackiest commission was to paint a huge toy gorilla in the driver’s seat of a convertible sports car, but more often than not she does dogs.

Her burgeoning career started as a hobby, but quickly became more as her client base expanded through word of mouth on social network Facebook, where her pictures have become a big hit with animal lovers in the US and Canada.

She said: “Most of my clients are in north America, although I’ve also sent paintings to Norway, Australia and Brazil.

“A few years ago I discovered a community of dog and cat owners on Facebook and I did paintings for free and paid to post them to America myself.

“I started getting real commissions and began doing it as pure enterprise. I also give half my profits to The Pilion Trust.”

The former pupil of Canonbury Primary School in Canonbury Road, Canonbury, works from photographs and charges £50 plus postage for an A3 acrylic paint-on-watercolour paper piece.

“Quite a lot of the time, people’s pets have passed on and they want a memorial of them. Lots of the Americans also do these costume shows with their pets, and often they want pictures of them in their outfits.

“I usually speak to the owners and there are some interesting characters, I must admit.

“My most recent portrait was of a chihuahua in a pink feather outfit at a dog show – the owner told me it was a male in drag.”

While she has no formal artistic training, her background in zoology comes in handy.

“I studied zoology at university and it helps with the observational skills,” she said. “We had to do lots of diagrams and it helps when the photos aren’t too clear, because I know what’s there and can make a guess of what it should look like.”

Ms Peel devotes several hours to each work, before reviewing it with fresh eyes the next morning to make any adjustments.

Much like a painter of people, she emphasises how important it is to get the eyes right to really capture the subject.

She added: “It’s been a hobby, but is hopefully becoming something I can earn a living from.”

Visit www.suzyspaniel.com for more information.

0 comments

Latest Islington News Stories

Tracey Palmer, Macmillan information and support manager at The Whittington Hospital, and Angel Bellot, the hospital's PALS and complaints manager (Picture: Eve Harris)

Two brave Whittington workers will swap the wards for the sky (and then, hopefully, the ground) when they jump out of a plane for charity this weekend.

Yesterday, 18:39
MP Andy Burnham visited the New River Green Childrens Centre, in Ramsey Walk in 2013

Parents have just hours left to respond to Islington Council’s cost-cutting plans for its early childhood service, which many fear could have a damaging effect.

Yesterday, 10:05
Service user Anna (L) with Celia from St Martin of Tours Islington (Picture: Islington Council)

What better way to enjoy the glorious sunshine than with a spot of gardening?

Thu, 11:53
Whitehall Park School has been in temporary blocks since opening in 2014. (Picture: Nigel Sutton).

Children at Islington’s £10million first free school will spend next term in a college after being forced out of their portacabins before the new building is ready.

Wed, 17:03
Adrian Carpenter

A man who stabbed a teenager to death on a Finsbury Park basketball court has been found guilty of his murder.

Wed, 15:58
Members of the Britannia Squash Club outside the the Sobell Leisure Centre. From left Richard Noble, Tim Denis, Tony Lewis, Carlos Lopez Barillas and Adam O'Brien. (Picture: Polly Hancock)

Dozens of squash players went on strike for a month after frustrations with a leisure centre boiled over.

Wed, 12:41
Leo Whittaker of Besant Court, Newington Green. Picture: Polly Hancock

Big changes have been mooted for Newington Green’s Besant Court estate, with one block facing demolition. Tenants yesterday reflected on their memories with James Morris.

Wed, 08:55
New Scotland Yard

A 23-year-old man was arrested in Finsbury Park yesterday on suspicion of funding terrorism.

Education and Training

cover

Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now

Newsletter Sign Up

Most read news

Competitions

Which book character do you share cleaning habits with?

Whether you have more in common with put-upon Cinderella, emotionally turbulent Jane Eyre, or easily distracted Mole, you’re sure to appreciate four sessions of free cleaning. Enter our quiz for your chance to win. All entrants can get £10 off their first clean when making a repeat booking.

£15k prize bundle

Imagine having the opportunity to win an incredible £15,000 bundle of some of the most amazing prizes available. Well, for one lucky contest entrant that dream could soon become a reality because we at MyOffers are offering an incredible free prize bundle that will make even the most hardened person wild with excitement.

Digital Edition

cover

Enjoy the
Islington Gazette
e-edition today

Subscribe

Education and Training

cover

Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now