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Introducing Charlotte Gridley

Driven to create the most breathtakingly beautiful photorealistic portraits in oils, this gifted and incredibly talented young artist’s work will be on display for all to experience and enjoy in her first exhibition at the prestigious Iona House Gallery in Woodstock, Oxfordshire from 28th March until 10th May.

Phil Strachan of Strangebrew introduces us to yet another of his far from bland and highly talented friends – on this occasion, the 21 year old daughter of ex Rally Driver and Motivational/Keynote Speaker Penny Mallory who featured in the last issue of B4.

Charlotte Gridley is one of the UK’s most gifted young photorealistic Wildlife and Animal Portrait artists, painting for individuals, galleries and interior designers using fine brushes and smooth surface panels to create hyper realistic paintings. She specialises in oil paintings of animals, working either from favourite photographs supplied by the owners in the case of pets or as is most often the case with respect to wildlife, photographs taken by herself.

When Penny first introduced me to Charlotte’s work, I was absolutely blown away by the attention to detail and her ability to capture each and every strand of hair and glint in the eye and unique personality of every subject with her highly detailed style of painting.

Charlotte’s art journey began at the age of 12 when she was offered an Art Scholarship during secondary education. Since then she has been fortunate enough to be commissioned to undertake many portraits which have greatly expanded her portfolio.

Charlotte, You must be very pleased that your work will soon be on show in such a well established and highly respected Oxfordshire Gallery with a reputation for showcasing high quality affordable art.

Yes Phil. I am absolutely thrilled to have been chosen to exhibit my work at the Iona House Gallery in Woodstock. I am so excited because this will be my first gallery exhibition and this article will give everyone some idea of what to expect if they decide to visit it.
That is true Charlotte, the accompanying photographs do go some way to showing the high level of detail and quality of your work but as I myself know from experience, they really do have to be seen in the flesh to be fully appreciated. Seeing really is believing!
For this article, I have deliberately selected and shown here a broad cross section of my work covering pets, wildlife and still life but most of my work involves animals, either beloved family pets or wildlife of all types as is increasingly the case.

Why have you chosen animals as your subjects. Charlotte, what is the fascination?

I love animals, Phil – and I always have done, to the point that I have been vegetarian since I was 8. What I like to do is to paint and capture animals in a human context. That is my passion and that is why my portraits take the form of head and shoulders shots with plain backgrounds. What I am trying to do is to capture and convey the individual personality and character of my subjects and this is especially important when I am commissioned to paint and almost bring to life a treasured family pet, a beloved and faithful companion. It has to be right. The good news is that animals are easier to work with than people!

Tell me a bit more about your journey to date

I started drawing animals at a very early age – I was only eight or nine. But it was at secondary school, when I was encouraged so much by a couple of teachers who saw my potential and encouraged me to paint rather than to just do pencil drawings, that I realised that this was what I wanted to do. I was lucky enough to be similarly encouraged at home and I was painting animals in particular, initially using acrylic paints. I got my first Pet Portrait commission when I was about 14 – to paint my friend’s dog and then others followed from other friends and neighbours as word spread.

As I understand it, you then went on to study art at University

Yes I did. I studied fine art at Leeds University but I soon found out that it was not for me and I was not for it! They did not like my style and I did not like what they were trying to make me do. So I made the brave decision, in the interest of my art, to drop out of University and to continue with my own style and to work more on Wildlife Portraits.

So, how long have you actually been painting full-time and what was your first Wildlife Portrait?

I have been painting full-time for just under a year and my first Wildlife Portrait was the Ram as featured in this article. Among other paintings, the Ram, along with the Leopard, the Highland Cattle and the Tiger shown here will be on display and will be for sale in my exhibition at The Iona House Gallery in Woodstock.

Tell me about your process – For example, how would someone commission you to do a portrait of their pet?

Ideally, I meet my Clients face to face and in order to create a highly detailed piece, I work directly from chosen photographs supplied by my Clients. The quality of the photograph is key for me to create an accurate likeness and I am always happy to receive a range of images and advise on which one to use. All images must be high resolution pictures of the head and chest taken from the pet’s head height and they must be sharp and in focus. The better the image quality is, the better the final painting will be and there is no need to worry about the background as I usually replace it with a plain background. Once the photograph to be used and the required size of the portrait is determined, a price is agreed for the commission and I request 50% of the agreed fee as deposit.

Charlotte, how long does a commission normally take from start to finish?

How long is a piece of string? It varies considerably depending on the size of the portrait being commissioned and the complexity of the detail in the subject. I work on one project at a time and, as a guide, it can be anything from 5 days to 4 or 5 weeks and I work full days for 5 days a week.

I understand – the complexity and level of detail of some of your creations is quite incredible. How do you get the final portraits to your Clients?

Once the commissioned portrait is completed, I send a photograph of it before delivery in case anything needs to be tweaked. Once I know my client is happy, I send my final Invoice for the remaining balance plus the delivery charge and once this is paid, their portrait will be despatched immediately. Some Clients prefer to save the delivery charge by arranging to collect their portrait themselves and I welcome this. I do love to meet the people I have created art for and to see their reactions when they see the final result.

Going forward, I believe that you want to focus more on Wildlife Portraits. How do you see this developing?

To date, my Wildlife Portraits are the result of photographs I have taken on visits to zoos (however, being an animal lover, I am not a fan of zoos), wildlife parks or the countryside but in future, I have other plans. In my ideal world, I would like to spend 2 or 3 months each year going on safaris and going to other exotic locations to photograph all types of wildlife in their natural environment and then come home and spend the rest of the year committing their images to canvas for others to enjoy. That is my dream!

Thank you Charlotte. I hope that your dreams really do come true but in the meantime, I wish you the very best and every success for your first gallery Exhibition of your work at the Iona House Gallery between 28th March and 10th May. Having seen your work first-hand I can thoroughly recommend B4 Members and readers to view and appreciate your work and your skills and talent for themselves.

Thank you, Phil. I just want people to enjoy my art as much as I enjoy creating it.

Anyone wishing to discuss a possible commission with charlotte or gallery exhibition of her work can contact her directly on 07884 066573 www.charlottegridley.com