by Elinor Jolly
"Tali" 10" x 9" colored pencil drawing of a collie, my first colored pencil commission.
For as long as I can remember as a child I was always drawing, even during a stay in hospital whilst on traction when I was five years old I was constantly drawing and coloring until one day the hospital staff asked my mother to take my coloring pens from me as they were going through the paper onto the bed clothes resulting in the sheets having to be washed daily. Art was my favorite subject throughout school days particularly drawing and to this day regret not taking my art teacher's advice to go to art college and then pursue a career in art, it has always been eating away at me, I felt that I had let myself down, so much so that I refused to draw or do any kind of art for many years, in fact over 25 years!
My working life was spent mainly doing office work until after having my third child at which point I was diagnosed with having Limb Girdle Muscular Dystrophy which is a muscle wasting disease affecting my limbs, heart and breathing muscles, it is a progressive muscle wasting condition causing pain, weakness and fatigue and as a result I have to constantly adapt to changes - my normal is ever-changing. My life since then has been filled with hospital appointments and a life of constant battling to keep going and doing low impact exercises when possible in order to keep mobile. After a while I was so fatigued with all the various exercises that I realized that I had no life, everything revolved around my condition and I was too tired to do anything else. That is when I decided to do things differently and started to do a lot of walking with my dogs so that I was exercising in a more sociable and enjoyable way and at the same time I could appreciate nature and the beauty of the countryside all around - at last I had found some kind of balance.
I was given an opportunity to do a graphic design course from home through a neuromuscular centre that help people with Muscular Dystrophy and it was at this point that my love for art was re-ignited again, although I thoroughly enjoyed the course I knew that my interest in creativity was of the traditional kind. Around seven years ago I attended a local pastel painting workshop, I had admired the artist's work after seeing it at a local exhibition and was interested in knowing how she could achieve such detail in her landscape paintings, I had never used pastels before but really liked them. I started to do the occasional painting of local scenes inspired whilst walking the dogs and decided to join a couple of local art societies, this gave me the opportunity to exhibit my work and also resulted in some sales and commissions. In 2015 I plucked up the courage to enter a painting into The Artist and Leisure Painter open art competition at Patchings Art Centre in Nottingham and was thrilled when I found out that it was an Award winner.
"Hafod" 21" x 26" soft pastel painting of a bridge that can be seen on a walk at the Hafod Estate, Ceredigion.
Although I enjoyed painting landscapes I really wanted to draw animals too and in 2016 I again entered the Patchings competition but this time it was a graphite pencil drawing of a dog and it was highly commended, the following year in 2017 I entered a graphite pencil drawing of my daughter's Jack Russell Terrier into the Patchings exhibition and again was thrilled that it was accepted for exhibition. In time I was asked if I did color drawings as commissions and knew this was something I wanted to do. I decided to do a colored pencil tutorial to learn and gain confidence and went on to do my first colored pencil commission, it was a drawing of a rescue collie dog named Tali and will always be very special to me as it was chosen to be published in a colored pencil book, this was a great honor for me and a real confidence boost.
A lesson that I learned in school all those years ago was to always imagine and feel the subject that you are drawing in your mind and the subject in question at the time was a chair, it may seem a strange idea to some but somehow I immediately got this and if you can feel and be a chair in your thoughts then you can certainly feel the emotion, energy and spirit of an animal - there is a lot of me that goes into my portraits.
"Patch" 14" x 17" Graphite pencil drawing of my daughter's Jack Russell Terrier.
Since taking up art again I still did not take it seriously, I constantly battled with my condition and it is only recently that I have accepted my situation and that I cannot change it therefore I no longer fight it and have decided to make better use of my energy and do what I enjoy most which is drawing. I want to dedicate as much time as possible on improving my artwork, I absolutely love the level of detail and realism that can be achieved with colored pencils and want to learn as much as possible about using them, there are so many incredibly talented colored pencil artists whose work I admire and I learn so much by seeing their work. Although I am very much an amateur artist, my aim is to one day be a full time professional artist, I believe that everything in life happens for a reason and things come to us at the right time and when it comes to my art I believe that the right time for me is NOW.
Elinor has always loved art from a young age and after a long break she was gradually pushed back into art due to a life changing medical condition, finding strength from her weakness she has found her way back onto her true life path. She is a published artist and regularly exhibits her work.
See more here: https://www.facebook.com/jollyfineart/