Tell us a little bit about your business and how you got started?
It’s quite a heartwarming story I’d say. When I was in my early 20s I began to suffer with anxiety and low moods – there were days when I wouldn’t leave the house and it was becoming quite concerning.
I decided to seek help and part of my recovery was to take up a hobby which allowed my mind to totally switch off. I picked up my watercolour set for the first time in years.
I remember the painting well… it was a little fox sitting beside its mum, nothing special but I felt very proud of it and so decided to share the image on Facebook.
One of my friends asked if I’d paint one for her, so I did, then a friend of hers asked if I’d paint a portrait of her pet.
Not thinking anything would come of it, I set up a Facebook page ‘JEM illustrations’ and one commission would lead into another… five years later, here I am having painted over 500 dogs!
Can you tell us about the process of creating one of your masterpieces?
Each piece is entirely unique, as no two pooches are the same. People send me a selection of photos, I then help them decide which will make the best piece.
From there I start with a basic outline in pencil then I get to work with my trusty paints and brushes.
What’s your favourite portrait you’ve created?
Last year I had the opportunity to paint Jeremy Hackett’s (of Hackett London) two Sussex Spaniels, they are a very rare breed of Gundog that I’d been longing to paint, so I was delighted when the commission fell into my hands.
I’m working my way through the entire list of dog breeds, but I must say, painting vulnerable breeds (Sealyhams, Field Spaniels, Clumber Spaniels) really gets me excited – it’s such a lovely chance to bring some awareness of the breeds to my followers.
Every piece is an honour to paint and I am forever humbled that people trust me to paint their beloved pets.
What’s next for JEM Illustrations?
Next month I am officially launching mini 4×4” portraits. They make such a sweet gift and aren’t too overwhelming when framed on your wall – I’m really pleased with them.
I’m also attending this year’s North East Dog Festival 3-4 September – it’s a fantastic weekend and such a lovely opportunity to meet my followers in person (and plenty of slobbery dog kisses too!).