How I Became A Wildlife Artist

How I Became A Wildlife Artist

by Frederique Horton

Six years ago I started my coloured pencil journey, one that has now led me to be a finalist in different competitions and being exhibited. But more on that soon!

Looking At You, 12 x 18 inches

Let's go back to when it started, when a chance encounter with someone - who is now a very close friend - introduced me to coloured pencils. I had no idea about this medium (other than when I used to use them in school). I had no background in art, and certainly none in coloured pencils, so how did I fall in love with this medium and want to draw animals? I would say through sheer determination, dedication, passion, and a thirst to learn. As soon as I had a pencil in my hand something happened and I felt the desire to know more and study the medium. So I bought books, watched videos and went on online classes. At first, I thought I wanted to go the landscape or botanical route. Animals seemed very daunting to draw and I didn't think I would be able to tackle fur or feathers, so I was shying away from it.

But one day, a friend asked me to draw her cat as a commission, and though I accepted, I was really nervous about the outcome. I shouldn't have been—she loved it! So I thought: maybe I could draw animals? Couldn't I?

These days, wildlife is at the forefront of what I love creating. With furry animals, I try to capture the spirit, the essence that emanates from them, starting with their eyes and expressions: “What are they thinking?” For birds, it's all about the feathers! I like to draw colourful birds, and it's good to use all those bright colours that you can't use in fur.

In The Pink, 12 x 18 inches

I pay very close attention to detail. Starting with base layers to block in the colours, adding more and more layers, I usually then use an odourless solvent to mix those colours; but what I love the most is the final stage, when I put in all the details. It seems to come naturally to me, cramming the tiniest of details to create thick dense fur, or fine feathers. To achieve the best results for my drawings I use mainly Polychromos (Faber-Castell) and Luminance (Caran d'ache) as they are both lightfast: these are my go-to pencils. Others include Derwent Lightfast, Pablos, Holbein and Prismacolor. As for the paper, it will be either Fabriano Artistico HP, or Pastelmat Board. I have found out over the years that I like a sturdy surface, so I will opt for Fabriano 640g.

“Passion, and a thirst to learn”

To support wildlife, I have entered competitions such as “Wildlife Artist of the Year”, where I was a finalist in 2021, and “Sketch for Survival” (Explorers Against Extinction), where I was highly commended in 2022 and a finalist in 2023, which resulted in being exhibited in the Oxo Gallery in London. That was a very proud moment. Saying that, I don't really like art competitions: I think artists should support each other, not compete against each other. But these competitions are for a good cause, as they raise money and all the proceeds go to wildlife conservation. I feel then that my art is actually making a difference, as small as it is!

Brothers, 16 x 11 inches

Animals speak to me and through my drawings I hope that I give them a voice too. The plight of endangered species due to loss of habitat or poaching is very dear to my heart, so raising money to help wildlife conservation gets my vote! There are hundreds of animals I still want to draw and I will carry on for as long as I can, holding a pencil in my hand and giving life on paper.

“I feel then that my art is actually
making a difference...”

Drawing animals with coloured pencils has been a learning curve, and things didn't always go according to plan, but it seems to have paid off, certainly with the joy it gives me to create wildlife. I look up to artists who have inspired me along the way (Rosa Bonheur, John Banovitch, Robert Bateman, to name a few). Everybody has their own style, and this is what makes each drawing unique.

Wildlife is my niche, and always will be.


Frederique is a wildlife artist originally from Paris, France, and living in south Wales, UK. She specialises in all kinds of animals, big and small. She has been exhibited as a finalist in galleries in various competitions and published in several magazines. Wildlife is at the heart of all her drawings.

Website: Frederique Horton Art

Comments (5)

Frederique is one of the most talented artists I’ve ever seen

linda rowlands - Mar 17, 2024

I love Fred’s work and her passion for her art. It’s unusual for a self-taught artist to reach this level of professionalism. She never ceases to amaze me

Deborah Sarjant - Mar 17, 2024

I love Fred’s work and her passion for her art. It’s unusual for a self-taught artist to reach this level of professionalism. She never ceases to amaze me

Deborah Sarjant - Mar 17, 2024

Fred is so talented. Amazing work. I love all the Animals and Birds. Well done.

Patricia Flood - Mar 17, 2024

Thank you for sharing….. Both your love of the subjects and your commitment show in your work. I look forward to more of your paintings in the months to come.

Kitty Dodd - Mar 17, 2024

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