News, Reviews and Interviews

Denise Wood (Pencil Paws) Talks the Talk with 1stAngel

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Founder of 1stAngel Arts Magazine Social Area Manager on Fine Art America An oil painter by profession, it is actually my digital work which has been exhibited. I enjoy bringing art to non artists and artists to other artists. I have interviews on my magazine from all kinds of artist, writer and musician. I hope you enjoy them and my site as much as I do

When did you first become interested in art?

At school I loved to draw, art was by far my favourite subject. I almost went the route of going to Art College because I was very interested in interior design, however back then it seemed not a very stable career path, of course now times have changed and if I could go back that is the path I would choose.


What style of art do you use most?


Has your style changed from when you first began as an artist?

Yes it has changed a lot. I believe it takes time to find your own individual style and preferred subject matter. My style now is very much focused on one image (always an animal) with maximum detail and no background to distract from the subject.

Sandy ©Denise Wood (Pencil Paws)
Sandy ©Denise Wood (Pencil Paws)

What medium do you use?

I use pencil and charcoal.

What made you choose that medium?

When I first started out I was working in pastel, for a control freak like me who also hates mess, pastel was quite a challenge. I do love the effects that can be created with pastel but I am much happier now using graphite, I can do very precise work, need minimal equipment and also love monochrome.

Do your ideas come from life or imagination?

They always come from life, I specialise in pet portraits and wildlife art.

How do you choose your images and colours?

As animals don’t like to sit still for too long, my artwork is based on reference photographs. I often take over 100 photographs of one subject before I get a set of photographs I am really happy to work from. A cute pose from a cat, a race horse galloping by, or a dog with unusual markings, all make me want to create and capture the essence of that animal.

Do you work in a studio?

I have a studio at home where I work, my cats are always there supervising!

My Studio
My Studio

Who is your favourite artist?

J.D Hillberry, his work is truly amazing.

What is your favourite piece of work by yourself?

My favourite piece is a portrait of a cat called Hobbs. It was a commission for a British couple who live in Kuwait. I loved the reference photograph from the minute I saw it, the composition just worked perfectly. You can see how it was created step by step on my website:

Hobbs  ©Denise Wood (Pencil Paws)
Hobbs ©Denise Wood (Pencil Paws)

How much time (on average) does it take to complete a work?

I have never timed a drawing exactly, however I do spend a number of weeks on just a small single head portrait, it really depends on how large and complex it is.

How well do you take criticism?

Truthfully not that well because it dents my confidence in my ability, which is always pretty fragile. However as my belief in my work grows, I am better able to deal with criticism and learn from it.

Mr Camel ©Denise Wood (Pencil Paws)
Mr Camel ©Denise Wood (Pencil Paws)

What do you do to overcome a ‘block’?

I don’t often have a block, as my inspiration comes from nature I am motivated to create by the beauty I see around me, a cute kitten will definitely send me running for the camera to take reference photographs.

How do you know something is ‘finished’? Is it easy to walk away?

No I never find it easy to walk away; I always can see something I could improve. I have been known to take out a framed supposedly finished piece because I have noticed something else that I feel I could improve. I am a perfectionist, so unfortunately for me nothing is ever quite good enough. My husband is a great help because he views my work and gives his honest opinion, always good to have another fresh set of eyes.

Hanging On ©Denise Wood (Pencil Paws)
Hanging On ©Denise Wood (Pencil Paws)

Have you had exhibits in galleries?

I mainly work by commission, so find it difficult to accumulate enough pieces for an exhibition. Whilst living in Abu Dhabi I did exhibit with the Abu Dhabi art group, which worked well as we all exhibited a few pieces.

Have you any exhibits in galleries planned for the future?

We recently moved to Kuwait, so at the moment am just finding my way round the art scene. Have talked to one gallery, so maybe there is a possibility after the summer.

What are you currently working on?

I am currently working on a head study of a giraffe. I took the reference photographs at Singapore zoo, it is a wildlife artist dream there and I spent the whole day happily snapping with my camera.

White Tiger ©Denise Wood (Pencil Paws)
White Tiger ©Denise Wood (Pencil Paws)

What are your plans for the future?

At the moment having just moved to Kuwait, I am seeing what opportunities are available here. Thanks to one bazaar I took part in, I have already been really busy with Pet Portraits in Kuwait; I am also completing orders for clients in Dubai. My long-term aim is to develop my wildlife drawings and move more into prints because each original is very time consuming.

What was the best advice given to you as an artist?

Marketing skills! Marketing and selling is not my forte; I prefer to just stay behind the scenes and create the art. I now have a website and try to regularly post on Facebook.

What advice would you give new artists?

Draw what you love not what you think is commercial and might sell. Your passion will show in your work.

Have you done any courses to help you?

Yes I took a Pet Portraiture course at the London College of Art. Part of the course was to complete portraits in various different mediums, which was when I discovered how much I loved to work in pencil.

What do you do to market your work?

I have artwork for sale at a veterinary clinic in Kuwait where I donate a percentage of sales to animal welfare, also at the British Ladies Society premises. Online I have my own website and sell prints through Fine Art America (

The Racing Game ©Denise Wood (Pencil Paws)
The Racing Game ©Denise Wood (Pencil Paws)

Do you use social networking in your day to day life?

Facebook –!/pages/Pencil-Paws/157185004317702
Twitter –

Are you available for commissions?

Yes I do Pet Portrait commissions for clients worldwide.

Have you got hobbies?

I love to ride horses, make jewellery and dance.

Where are you based?

I will be based for the next year in Kuwait but after that you just never know! I am originally from the UK but move around the world due to my husbands work.

© 2013, Isabella Francesca Abigail Shores. All rights reserved.

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