“In every walk with nature one receives far more than one seeks.”  John Muir

As a child, I watched in fascination the animals, insects, and birds around me. I adored wildlife and dogs, and also thoroughly enjoyed drawing the plants and animals that I saw. My love of art and my unceasing care and concern for our fellow creatures has been with me throughout the following years.

Over the years, whilst sketching and studying my surroundings; I have also always enjoyed using as reference the items collected whilst out walking. Feathers, leaves, discarded eggshells, skulls, and bones are all included on my ‘nature table’.

In the mid-1980s, I met Dusty, a lover of Great Danes, and immediately fell in love with one of his dogs: a lovely gentle, handsome old boy. Dusty gave me a small photo of him and as I’d always enjoyed drawing, I decided I would try to portray him and a few weeks later was encouraged to show my 5″ x 7″ drawing to Dusty.  I did so, reluctantly, and to my great surprise Dusty immediately said he wished to purchase it.

I didn’t realise the significance at the time, but this lovely old Great Dane was my very first Pet Portrait sale. I earned the grand sum of £20. I thought it was very kind of Dusty, but didn’t think anymore of it until a few days later when I received a call from him asking if I would produce an oil painting of another of his Great Danes. Thanks to Dusty, I never looked back. More commissions arrived on my doorstep purely through recommendations and I was now a self-employed Pet Portrait Artist.

Self-taught and working from home, in 1989 I entered a Dorset Art Magazine art competition and was awarded First Prize for my  ‘Dandie Dinmont Terrier’ pencil drawing.  Concentrating on painting Wildlife and Pet Portraits, a year later I exhibited an artwork alongside many well-known artists at the Mall Galleries in London, and also exhibited in galleries in the South.

In 1989, I also moved to the Larmer Tree Gardens in the village of Tollard Royal, Wiltshire, and began to establish my reputation as a self-employed artist. The Larmer Tree Victorian Gardens, created by General Pitt Rivers in 1880, contain a wonderful collection of ornate buildings, majestic trees, and intimate arbours. It was a lovely environment in which to have my home and studio. In 2020, I moved my studio to Rushmore Park, situated in the middle of Cranborne Chase and surrounded by woodland walks and stunning scenery. I have always felt privileged at being able to live and work in such beautiful surroundings.

After working as a self-taught artist for a number of years, I was delighted when, in 1994, I was accepted on a Natural History Illustration course at Bournemouth and Poole College of Art and Design. Whenever possible during the course, I would incorporate my concern for endangered species within my artwork, and in 1998 graduated with an HND qualification in ‘Natural History Illustration’.

Whilst at college I practiced using various mediums and different artistic approaches to painting. Life drawing lessons in particular gave me the confidence to express myself more freely, and is, I believe, an important exercise in the process of learning to draw.

Lectures on the History of Art, reading about the lives, travels, and techniques of the Old Masters, as well as learning about modern-day artists, opened a whole new world to me. The work of Constable, Monet, H.H. La Thangue, and Durer are just a few of my favourites and I also very much admire the work of the internationally renowned wildlife artists: Ray Harris Ching, Robert Bateman, and Carl Brenders.

My love of nature is reflected in my artwork; my choice of subjects is varied and my paintings and fine art prints can be found in private collections throughout the world: including the U.K, United States, Czechoslovakia, Indonesia, India, Saudia Arabia, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, China, Africa, Germany, and Sweden.

Capturing the character of each subject and using a variety of media including oil, pastel, pencil, acrylic, and gouache, my original artworks and illustrations are also available as greetings cards, fine art prints, bone china mugs, cushions, and a variety of designer gifts.

Wildlife Artist Susan Shimeld drawing at Larmer Tree Studio
Larmer Tree Studio at Springtime with Cherry Blossom tree
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