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Meet The Artist - Pollyanna Pickering

Published date: 04 December 2018

Back to Article Listing Pollyanna Pickering - dog notecards

Pollyanna Pickering has been a favourite artist of Calendar Club and its sister company Otter House, for many years. After she passed away in 2018 we decided to review an interview we had together, and the resulting answers are terrific. Pollyanna’s work is such a hit with our customers, we had a feeling you would enjoy getting a little bit of insight into her incredible work on animal conservation and her love of painting wildlife from around the world.

1. Your detailed work captures animals in all sorts of positions. What would you say is the hardest part of any animal to capture in a painting?

It is absolutely vital to capture the eyes correctly — they are always the key to conveying the character and spirit of any of my subjects. Luckily, I love painting the eyes of any animal! I don’t think there is any particular part of an animal I find difficult to paint — I think the biggest challenge is probably trying to sketch animals in motion, or birds in flight — and then to convey that movement in a finished painting.

2. In your years of travel abroad, what would be your most memorable experience with a wild animal?

I have had so many wonderful experiences — from bottle feeding a six-month baby panda in wildlife hospital in China, to sketching the rarest wolf in the world in the mountains of Ethiopia. However, I think that the most memorable was probably being charged by a huge male tiger while I was working in Corbett’s National Par in India. He was defending a recent kill — and I am very lucky to have survived to tell the tale! The memory of the blazing eyes and fangs bursting out of the undergrowth is absolutely burned on my mind — and that was the first painting I completed on my return to my studio.

3. Wolves, Tigers, Owls and British Wildlife all feature in your calendars for 2012 — what would be your favourite animal calendar to date? And, what animal would you love to feature in a future calendar?

It is almost impossible to choose a favourite! For fifteen years I ran a wildlife hospital, rehabilitating injured and orphaned birds and animals back in to the wild. We specialised in birds of prey, so many of the owls which feature in the calendar are patients which I cared for during this time — so that makes them extra special. Some years I did a ‘Safari’ calendar of African wildlife, and I was especially pleased with that one — so perhaps I would like to paint another of those in the future! 

4. How do you choose which images are used for each month on a calendar?

We try to select a good variety, and where relevant choose paintings which are relevant to the season — snow in winter pictures for example. We also try to place young animals in suitable Springtime months and use Autumnal settings of the British Wildlife in September and October. And of course, I always have to paint a robin for December for the British Bird calendar!

 5. We know that animal conservation is a cause close to your heart. What will future generations of artists have to do if wild animals aren’t protected? Do you think it necessary to see animals in the wild in order to portray them well?

I am very involved with wildlife conservation, and I do try and create awareness of conservation issues through my work — usually these messages are fairly indirect in the actual paintings, although evidently, I hope they will increase an awareness and respect for the natural world, and especially endangered species. Sometimes a single piece will make a more direct point — for example I found a hand carved frame in India which features a set of doors on the front with bars — I painted a tiger to fit the frame, with the message being that as long as tigers remained in the wild the bars of the cage would remain open.

In a more direct way, I have been very fortunate that my work allows me to collaborate with a lot of wildlife charities who commission work for cards etc., and I also work with several organisations as a patron or special ambassador, raising awareness of their work, as well as funds for their projects.

All the animals I paint I have studied and sketched in real life, and as far as possible in their natural habitats. With the type of work, I create it is important to be accurate as well as artistic! Also, if, for example, I hadn’t been up to the High Arctic to paint polar bears I don’t think I could ever have imagined their habitat correctly — it is like another world!

6. And something completely different to end with … who is your favourite artist?

At college I was most influenced by the classical great masters — Michelangelo and Leonardo Da Vinci! In wildlife art I love the work of the Canadian artist Robert Bateman, and a Dutch artist (who sadly passed away a few years ago) called Rien Poortvliet. His work is beautiful — and you can tell by looking at his sketches how much he loved what he did!

The time, love and energy that goes into producing Pollyanna’s wonderful calendars is reflected in the images of every month. Our thanks go to Pollyanna Pickering and her daughter Anna-Louise for participating in the interview.

If you love Pollyanna’s work and want to see more then just click here.





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